Former SCHS, Stanford standout reflects on rookie season
By Steve Breazeale
As a member of the Green Bay Packers, San Clemente native Kyle Murphy has enjoyed the last eight weeks of the NFL season. The team has been on a tear and is on a seven-game winning streak, which includes a convincing victory over the New York Giants in the wild-card round of the playoffs on Jan. 8.
In the first 11 weeks of the season, the Packers stumbled their way to a 4-6 record, but they now head into Sunday’s divisional round matchup against the Dallas Cowboys as one of the hottest teams in the league.
Murphy, a rookie offensive lineman who was drafted in the sixth round last year out of Stanford University, has spent the season learning the ropes and carving his own path up the depth charts. The San Clemente Times caught up with Murphy this week to get his thoughts on his first season in the league, what’s next for him, and how he feels the Packers match up with the Cowboys.
San Clemente Times: What was it like to experience your first playoff game as an NFL player?
Kyle Murphy: It was crazy. We’ve had sell-outs at Lambeau Field for the last 50 years so just that atmosphere, when playoffs come around and it’s do or die and there is no tomorrow, that sense of urgency and excitement goes up that much more.
SCT: And that was quite the statement you guys made against a solid defensive team.
KM: It was cool to rematch a team. The Giants have had success since we played them (on Oct. 16) … and they supposedly had the hottest defense over the last couple months of the season. It was intense. We had that slow start, it was kind of a lull, but things got going and it was a hell of a day.
SCT: It’s been an interesting year for the team. You started off slow but are now on a winning streak. What flipped for you guys along the way?
KM: Starting the season off, we had high expectations … but we had some injuries at key spots and that kind of made us change some things on the fly. It gave us some adversity. … A lot of (media) wrote us off. But we turned it around.
Throughout the year we didn’t really change our process. We were having that funk and a lot of times it’s easy for people to say ‘We need to change this, we need to change that,’ but I think we all had the confidence in each other that eventually things would come together for us, and they did, so everything’s been working ever since.
SCT: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your rookie season?
KM: The biggest thing I learned was just kind of staying the course and trusting the process. Trust that everyone on your team—the coaching staff, the support staff—will get their job done and not worrying so much about the big picture.
SCT: You’re behind some former and current Pro Bowl linemen on the depth chart. What’s it like working with guys who are the best in the business at what they do?
KM: I’ve learned the importance of being a pro. Those older guys have been in the league for six, seven, eight years that have had success and signed these big contracts. They’re showing up multiple hours in the morning before they need to be there getting the extra treatment, the extra stretching, the extra ice tub in.
We’re really looking at it as, ‘This is my job; this is what I get paid to do.’ At the same time, you have to prepare that way because it will make it that much more fun when you’re prepared, confident and ready to go. It kind of all works together in that way.
SCT: How do you like living and working in Green Bay?
KM: The cold was something to get used to (laughs). But it’s a little bit different world out here how people view football. I’ve come to enjoy that every day when I pull into the facility, there are at least five or six people waiting outside the gate area asking for autographs or trying to get a moment with us no matter who you are, whether you’re a big-time player or just a rookie trying to contribute in any way.
Obviously Green Bay isn’t the biggest city in the world and Lambeau is the biggest structure in the area, but I kind of like that small-town lifestyle. There aren’t a ton of things to distract you and everyone is super kind and welcoming. I kind of like this pace of living.
SCT: Thoughts on Sunday’s game?
KM: I think our defense will come out to play and try and neutralize (Dallas’) playmakers. We’ve been taking care of the ball well and we’ve been super-efficient with everything. I think if we stay the course, I’ve got the utmost confidence that we’ll be able to get the job done and be able to keep this thing going week by week.