Kyler Murray was the Arizona Cardinals MVP of the 2023 season

Very rarely does a team’s Most Valuable Player only appear in eight games, but for the Arizona Cardinals, that was the case.
Dec 17, 2023; Glendale, Ariz, United States; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) escapes
Dec 17, 2023; Glendale, Ariz, United States; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) escapes / Michael Chow / USA TODAY NETWORK

When you look at Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray’s numbers and extend them across a 17-game season, they aren’t all-world. Murray’s eight-game sample size, when you do the math, had him on pace for 21 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions, and 3,822 passing yards. 

As a dual-threat quarterback, Murray also ran the ball well, and through 17 contests, he would have been on pace for 94 rushing attempts, 518 yards, six touchdowns, and 5.5 yards per carry. Therefore, his all-purpose numbers would have theoretically given him 27 touchdowns and 4,340 yards, which still aren’t top-tier, but they’re also more than serviceable.

But numbers aren’t the reason why Murray was the Team MVP - had that been the case, James Conner, Trey McBride, or Jalen Thompson would have gotten the honor. Instead, it’s because when Murray returned to the lineup, the Redbirds were a lowly 1-8, and the former number-one pick led them to a respectable 3-5 record in his eight starts.

Kyler Murray showed he can win games for the Arizona Cardinals

Yesterday, I talked about how Murray’s solid overall performance catapulted the quarterback unit into receiving a passing grade. But he not only stabilized the position - Murray also elevated the entire team and that was nonexistent in years past. Sure, he can do a better job at making what he has around him better, but there’s a reason Murray went 3-5 while the Joshua Dobbs/Clayton Tune combo finished 1-8 - one quarterback managed to take the team up a notch, the other two didn’t.

What’s even more amazing is the fact Murray pulled this off with a roster devoid of talent at the offensive line, receiver, defensive line, linebacker, and cornerback, yet he still led them to wins. In other words, Arizona Cardinals brass couldn’t have put Murray in a more hopeless situation heading into Week 10, and he still played adequately enough to lead them to wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles late in the year. 

For these reasons, he helped the team win more than James Conner or Trey McBride, and had the Cardinals shelved Murray all season, they may have finished 1-16 or 2-15. At that point, you would have seen a confirmed tank, but it didn’t happen, and Murray can now build on a successful eight games.


(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)