Is Kyler Murray a legitimate franchise quarterback for the Cardinals?

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Kyler Murray
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Kyler Murray /

Kyler Murray is good enough to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. But is he a legitimate franchise quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, or nothing more than a spot starter?

The Arizona Cardinals thought they were getting a future franchise quarterback in Kyler Murray when they drafted him number one overall in 2019. The Cardinals were so enamored with Murray they rightfully ended the ill-fated Josh Rosen experiment after just one season.

Murray won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2019 and has since become a two-time Pro Bowler. So what more could you ask for in a franchise quarterback in his third season?

On the surface, nothing. But Murray has yet to show in his young career he can bypass the infamous rookie wall. Sure, he’s just 24, but his performance in December 2021 looks eerily similar to that in 2020.

This isn’t just about Murray’s pedestrian numbers this month; it’s about his inability to elevate talent around him when players go down with injuries. It’s about his inability to win games and secure a playoff position on his own terms late in the season.

Okay, you may be screaming Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott had lean periods in 2021. Fair point. Only Mahomes has a League MVP award, two Super Bowl appearances, and a Super Bowl Championship on his resume. Prescott has made multiple playoff appearances and won 13 games in his rookie season.

They’re proven commodities. Murray isn’t. He’s an exciting dual-threat quarterback. Fun to watch. Makes mind-boggling plays. But none of that matters if he can’t win in December and, more importantly, January.

As mentioned, Murray‘s play stagnated in 2020. Sure, he played hurt as 2020 wore on, which we believed contributed to his inability to finish strong. It’s why he took time off in 2021 to heal an ankle sprain; to ensure the same thing wouldn’t happen. But here we are in late December, and Murray finished the month 1-3.

The Cardinals are heading to the playoffs for the first time in Murray’s career, but they needed help to get there. Something they should never have needed had they simply won one of their previous three games. One of which included a blowout loss to the Detroit Lions.

So far, Murray hasn’t looked like a franchise quarterback. Franchise quarterbacks elevate the talent of the players around them. Murray has yet to do this consistently. They win games with the season on the line. Murray has yet to do so.

Murray has a place in the NFL. He can win games. And he can make electrifying plays. But at the end of the day, he needs to elevate talent around him, win games in December, and finish a season strong.

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Until he accomplishes all of the above, Murray is a middle-of-the-road quarterback. And if he keeps playing the way he has, he’s nothing more than a glorified bridge quarterback.