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Armando Salguero’s OutKick QB Talk: Kyler Murray Discusses Kingsbury-OU Rumor; Matt Ryan Addresses Slump; Tua’s Accuracy Manifests; Lamar Jackson Glutton For Punishment

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Kyler Murray is in the unique position of having played at Oklahoma, which is looking for a new head coach, and playing for Kliff Kingsbury, who is rumored to be a candidate to fill that coaching vacancy.

And Murray ain’t buying the Kingsbury to OU rumor:

“I know Kliff. I don’t really buy into it,” Murray said Wednesday. “If I’m him, I think he’s got a pretty good job right now.”

Murray isn’t thinking about who the next Sooners coach will be either.

“I don’t,” he said. “I don’t even know who’s up for it. I have no idea what’s going on.”

Let’s just say Murray is more mindful of what’s going on with his own personal status for Sunday’s game at the Chicago Bears. That’s because he hasn’t played since Oct. 28 when he injured his ankle on the final Cardinals’ play of a 24-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

“You play the play over and over again in your head and the way the game ended,” Murray said of the interception in the end zone he threw. “You wish you didn’t get hurt and, ‘How could I have not gotten hurt?’ All that stuff plays in your head until you get back on the field.

“It can eat at you, but I’m over it at this point. I’m in a good headspace, feel fine. We’re 9-2. We have the best record in the league. Obviously, none of that matters right now. Got to keep going. I’m excited for where we are as a team. The guys are happy to be back, refreshed after the bye, had a good Thanksgiving. I like where we’re at.”

Murray declined to give what percentage he feels his ankle is at after missing three games. But he did say he’s “hopeful” he’ll be back in the lineup Sunday.

Tua Tagovailoa accuracy is a real thing now

Have you looked at the NFL statistics lately?

The NFL’s most accurate quarterback is Murray, who has a 72.7 completion percentage. That’s not a surprise because Murray has been leading the league in this category for much of the season.

But the second-most accurate passer in the league now might surprise you: Tua Tagovailoa.

The Dolphins quarterback’s completion percentage is 70.5, which is a couple of tenths above New England’s Mac Jones at 70.3.

Tagovailoa’s elite trait has always been accuracy but now it’s manifesting in the NFL. And that means Tagovailoa’s natural gifts and understanding of different situations are combing to get him more connections.

“It’s always dependent,” Tagovailoa said. “If it’s man (coverage), you never want to put it behind them. You never want to put it on them. You always want to lead them. In zone, you’re really just trying to beat the defensive guys in spots when you’re throwing it. A lot of it has to do with timing.

“Really, the receivers in zone and in man, I feel like they’re our eyes as quarterbacks because they’re running to a spot where they want us to throw the ball. It gets hard when you’re looking in the front and trying to see who is in front of them and then try to look back at them and then try to make the throw. Sometimes you just never have enough time to do that, so you’re just trusting them.”

That still requires good ball placement, and Tagovailoa credits not his coaches but his father for that skill.

“Yeah, I would say working out with my dad, that was imperative. Just everything I had to do had to be to his liking. If the ball placement wasn’t where it should have been, then we do it again and we do it until we get it right. That goes with footwork and all of that.”

Matt Ryan addresses slump as Falcons chase playoff berth

That’s not a surprise because the Atlanta Falcons are among four teams — along with Washington, Minnesota and New Orleans — who have a 5-6 record and are vying for the final playoff spot in the NFC postseason chase.

And it stands to reason that if the Falcons are going to factor in that chase the final month of the season, then quarterback Matt Ryan needs to play well.

Which means he needs to play better because in the last three games, he’s thrown 1 touchdown … and 5 interceptions.

No bueno.

So Ryan was asked why he’s struggled over the last few weeks.

“I think we just haven’t been in a rhythm that much in the pass game, and I think a lot of it comes down to early just getting some momentum,” Ryan said, opting to answer in the plural for the entire offense when the question was about him specifically.

“I thought last week while the numbers weren’t great, we did a pretty good job converting third downs early, which is huge. We got the run game going, which we relied on heavy, but I think it’s just about rhythm, trying to put guys in position to make plays and continuing to make sure my footwork is in a really good spot to deliver the ball effectively, but I really do think it just comes down to a play here or there to get us into a rhythm.”

Footwork? Rhythm? Ryan would make for a terrible dancer the last couple of weeks.

But is the footwork issue a thing for a 36-year-old quarterback?

“I don’t think it’s huge,” Ryan said, “but you to you got to be in good position, and I think I can do a better job than I’ve done the last couple of weeks.”

Lamar Jackson punishes himself with memory of four interceptions

Lamar Jackson knows that the most remote places on Earth saw his four-interception outing last Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns, but he’s one of the few that watched it again and understands how poorly it made him look.

“Bad passes and inaccurate, underthrown passes – that’s all I’ve seen,” Jackson said. “Bad reads. I looked like a rookie. I looked like a rookie.”

The strange thing is Lamar Jackson has no intention of putting that performance behind him, as most athletes might when they have another game within a week.

He’s kind of allowing the game to remain in his mind and let the pain of that awful performance work on his behalf.

Yeah, weird. But whatever works for him.

“I let it fester. I need to feel it,” Jackson said. “I need to feel that pain. That’s pain right there. The defense is making great stops, and I’m putting my defense back out there right away. It was happening right away, and I’m looking at film … It was like, they stopped them, we get back out on the field, and interception.

“I’m like, ‘What the?’ I’m watching the film like it’s fate. So, yes, I let it fester for a couple days, and then I let it go and get prepared for the Steelers, for my next game, whoever it is.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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