Irresponsible journalists have turned good faith criticism into a farce with their recent coverage of the Cardinals quarterback.
Kyler Murray is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL today. I say that confidently, not just as a Cardinals fan, but as an objective observer of the game of football. This shouldn’t be the least bit controversial—let alone outright rejected—but, of course, it often is. In an offseason full of drama for the Arizona Cardinals, Murray has found himself at the center of a lot of it. This has, not surprisingly, been exacerbated by irresponsible reporting and bad Twitter takes.
The “independent study” clause in Murray’s new contract that was later removed. His apparent liking of video games. The persistent jokes about his height. All of this has surrounded him as well as the team as a whole throughout the offseason and training camp. It’s all ridiculous. It also follows a familiar pattern of the manner in which some NFL quarterbacks have been treated by bad journalists and corrupt organizations over the years.
It’s astonishing to me that quarterbacks like Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow are consistently being ranked higher than Murray at this time. Not only is he more versatile than Herbert and Burrow, his statistics in certain areas are better. It’s also striking to me that many of the same people who use the justification of Burrow’s getting to the Super Bowl as evidence of his superiority over Murray have no answer when you point out to them that Herbert has yet to even get to the playoffs.
Career Completion Percentage
- Murray: 66.9%
- Herbert: 66.2%
- Burrow: 68.2%
2021 Passer Rating Index
- Murray: 111
- Herbert: 107
- Burrow: 121
Regular Season QB Win %
- Murray: .489
- Herbert: .469
- Burrow: .48
To his credit, Murray does an excellent job of staying calm and maintaining a stoic persona in the face of the relentless taunting and criticism that comes his way. The most he’s ever done to contend with it head on is to state that he doesn’t play the quarterback in a conventional fashion. Again, this is something that should be evident and without any accompanying controversy. It isn’t, of course, and the crowd is quick to point out there have been plenty of scrambling quarterbacks in the NFL, as if this truism somehow disproves Murray’s comments.
Among other quarterbacks generally thought of as scramblers, only Cam Newton has rushed for more touchdowns in a regular season than Murray. Steve Grogan also rushed for 12 touchdowns in 1976, but his performance predates the “scrambler era” and is therefore less helpful in this context. As for Newton, he was never as versatile a quarterback as Murray is already. Jalen Hurts has also been unable to match Murray’s abilities through the passing game as of yet.
Career Average Touchdowns Per Season
- Murray: 23.3
- Hurts: 11
- Newton: 17.6
- Lamar Jackson: 21
The fact is that Murray does have a unique playing style at the quarterback position. This is true regardless of the fact that we’re living through an era of the NFL where quarterbacks who possess incredible running abilities are becoming more common than they used to be. He’s also not that much smaller than a couple of other quarterbacks who managed to have great deals of success in the league: Russell Wilson and Drew Brees.
But it’s the lack of preparation line of thinking that is the most egregious. The history of the NFL has been littered with similar so-called observations of black players, rarely, if ever, carrying even a single shred of credibility. Yet I can’t wrap my head around the idea that a football player who has made it all the way up the ranks through the most elite levels of NCAA competition and now is a perennial Pro Bowl selection and one of the best at his position could’ve done so with a lackluster effort when it comes to study and preparation.