Learning is a funny thing. Nobody is great at something the first time they try it, and if you are good at things the first time you try them, then I hope all the bad things in the world happen to you.
Anyway, failing is another way of learning, because it teaches us how not to do things. We can’t improve as people if we don’t try, and then fail at things.
The same goes for football players. New players can’t learn if they’re not given the opportunity to fail. Such was the case earlier in the season for Cincinnati Bengals first-round pick Myles Murphy.
Early in the season, Murphy had a hard time getting meaningful snaps as they were all soaked up by Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, and Joseph Ossai, but injuries forced Lou Anarumo’s hand in playing Murphy more starting around Week 10.
-Anarumo said that those run blitzes, which have been staples of the Bengals' defense, weren't working and were "driving me crazy." "Now, it's going again" and leading to TFLs— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) December 12, 2023
-The Bengals have been "trying to play Murphy more" and are giving him a bigger role.
Since then, Murphy has doubled the amount of snaps he plays in a game compared to what he averaged before. And it’s showing.
He has improved as a pass rusher, highlighted by his 13.3% pass rush win rate, which is third on the team. And if you want to get really technical, he’s actually second behind Trey Hendrickson when you account for players with over 100 pass-rushing snaps (ADG is first, but according to PFF, he only has six snaps where he rushed the passer).
Hendrickson is having a monster year. He already owns the Bengals single-season sack record (14 in 2021), and he’s only half a sack back from that mark with four games left to be played. He’s on pace to hit 18, and it’s not far-fetched for him to have 20 or more. Those numbers typically place players in the Defensive Player of the Year conversations. On top of all that, he’s now under contract until after the 2025 season.
Murphy will continue to improve, and if he can just polish some moves to get around the opposing lineman, the Bengals pass rush could be as scary as it’s ever been.
And it all starts with failing.
Luckily, the Bengals are letting him do just that.