How much better did the Arizona Cardinals offense get when Kyler Murray returned in 2023?

The Arizona Cardinals offense was still turbulent when Kyler Murray returned, but they noticeably picked up as he mastered the new offense.

Dec 17, 2023; Glendale, Ariz, United States; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws
Dec 17, 2023; Glendale, Ariz, United States; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws / Michael Chow / USA TODAY NETWORK
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While the Arizona Cardinals won their first game with Kyler Murray this past season, they finished just 2-5 the rest of the way. But the overall win/loss record shouldn’t reflect what was otherwise a successful half-season in Glendale not just for Murray, but the Cardinals offense. 

In the nine games featuring Joshua Dobbs and Clayton Tune as the starting quarterbacks, the Cardinals offense achieved an average of 289.6 total yards per game, and 162.6 passing yards per. Shifting gears to Murray, the Cardinals offense averaged a much better 362.75 yards per game while they snagged exactly 210 passing yards per. 

When you look at these numbers, the Cardinals offense was more efficient by 73.15 yards per game on average, while their passing yards increased by 47.4 per contest. Based on total and passing yards, not only did the Cardinals offense improve, but it increased dramatically.

Arizona Cardinals production on offense flew high with Kyler Murray

When Dobbs and Tune played, “Big Red’s” average points per game sat at a meager 16.77, barely under two touchdowns (plus extra points) and a field goal. Under Murray, the Cardinals offense produced 22.37 points per game, a difference of 5.6 points. 

In eight starts, Murray was sacked 18 times, or 2.25 times per game, while the combo of Joshua Dobbs and Clayton Tune was taken down 24 times in nine games, or 2.66 per. To be fair, Dobbs was sacked just 17 times in eight starts, but it’s also worth wondering how much better he would have fared than Tune in Week 9 against a Cleveland Browns defense that logged 49 sacks on the year, or nearly three per contest. 

What’s even more amazing is the fact the Arizona Cardinals had no No. 1 receiver given Murray’s former college teammate, Marquise Brown, struggling throughout the 2023 campaign and ultimately missing the final three games. Murray and rookie receiver Michael Wilson also failed to click until the final two weeks of the season, and you must also account for a weak left side of the offensive line. 

It raises the question of how good the Cardinals offense will be in 2024 if they address the appropriate needs when the new league year kicks off. If their offense played halfway-decent ball while lacking in a few positions, then they will reach new heights next season. 

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(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)