Despite receiving two Pro Bowl nods and a Rookie of the Year award, Kyler Murray was disappointing in his first four seasons while other former number one overall picks like Baker Mayfield, Joe Burrow, and Trevor Lawrence at least won playoff games. But while the aforementioned players had a decent level of stability, Murray was forced to deal with the Kingsbury and Keim Show on the sidelines and in the front office.
And despite posting such marginal numbers last season and only taking the Cardinals so far, it’s not like Murray is a bust. Consider the following quote from Brad Spielberger of PFF, who is stressing for the Cardinals to keep building their team around Murray:
"“Fans are quick to forget that through Week 8 in 2021, before injuries, Murray’s 89.5 passing grade ranked fourth, his 9.0% big-time throw rate led the NFL and his 1.0% turnover-worthy play rate ranked second. Murray was also second in adjusted completion percentage over the span, at 81.4%, and his 8.9 yards per attempt ranked fourth.”"- Brad Spielberger
This year, such issues appear to have dissipated, with new general manager Monti Ossenfort taking charge and adding the proper short-term players to build an identity slated to better suit Murray. The effort became even more pronounced when Drew Petzing, a disciple of the run-first Kevin Stefanski, relocated from Cleveland to Arizona to be the team’s offensive coordinator.
PFF correct to see Murray as a piece for Arizona Cardinals to build around
With a new system in place better adapted to fit Murray, chances are he will be much more successful in it, even if a few of his teammates won’t be in the desert long-term like Kelvin Beachum, James Conner, and Zach Ertz. The Cards will be a run the ball down their opponents’ throats, throw when they need to type of team, and that will further highlight Murray’s strengths.
Further, given his natural talent, Murray has what it takes to reclaim a top 10, and perhaps even claim a top five ranking among the league’s starting quarterbacks. However, you can have all the talent in the world and still fall short if your coaches don’t properly utilize you, and that was a major issue under Kingsbury.
Now that Murray has a chance to play to his strengths, there is no telling of how successful he will be in this new offense. But as the quote in the above section outlined, Murray played well even when he was in a system that didn’t entirely fit him.
For these reasons, PFF is correct in picking Murray, along with Paris Johnson Jr. and Budda Baker, to be one of those cornerstones that the Arizona Cardinals should build around. And for those still counting Murray out, you will be glad the Redbirds stuck with him when he inevitably puts up some successful numbers.
Source: Three players to build around for every NFC team by Brad Spielberger, PFF.com