The Arizona Cardinals are stocking up on weapons this offseason. Kyler Murray has a great chance of being 2020’s version of Lamar Jackson.
What Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson accomplished during the 2019 NFL season shouldn’t be diminished. Jackson broke several records en route to becoming just the second unanimous MVP in NFL history. While it’s highly unlikely that Kyler Murray will be the NFL’s unanimous MVP, he still has a chance to have a similar impact for the Arizona Cardinals.
Led by first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the Cardinals organization embraced a full rebuild in 2019. Despite selecting Josh Rosen in the first round of the 2018 draft, Arizona selected Murray first overall in the 2019 draft. The move paid off big time, as Murray was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
In his debut season, Murray threw for 3,722 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, including 544 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The Cardinals may have finished with a 5-10-1 record in Murray’s first season, but their record didn’t indicate their true talent, particularly on offense.
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A huge reason Arizona was so difficult for opposing defenses was due to Murray’s dual-threat ability. Like Jackson, Murray has the ability to scramble and extend plays when pass-protection breaks down. He also offers Kingsbury the freedom to call designed runs. In turn, this causes defensive coordinators to play more conservatively in calling blitzes and stacking the box.
Murray will enter his sophomore season in the NFL in 2020 and, like Jackson, will be much more equipped to handle an NFL workload. He’ll also have a full offseason to fully digest Kingsbury’s playbook.
The biggest reason Murray could have a similar impact that Jackson had, though, is because the Cardinals are adding the necessary tools to help him succeed. The team traded for star receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans, all while off-loading David Johnson‘s massive cap hit.
Additionally, the team applied the transition tag to running back Kenyan Drake, re-signed the legendary Larry Fitzgerald and left tackle D.J. Humphries signed a contract extension to remain in place for three more seasons.
The Cardinal’s offensive skill positions now consist of Murray, Drake, Hopkins, Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. Tight end will likely be a point of emphasis in April’s draft, though Maxx Williams is more than capable of being the No. 1 option at the position.
During the 2019 season, Drake, Hopkins, Fitzgerald and Kirk combined for 3,951 scrimmage yards. This bodes well for Murray, who should easily eclipse 4,000 passing yards this coming season in Kingsbury’s spread offensive scheme. Add in 1,000 rushing yards (Murray finished with 1,001 rushing yards in his senior season at Oklahoma), and we could be looking at an MVP-caliber season from the former Heisman winning quarterback.
The Cardinals still have some work to do in re-tooling their offensive line, but all the pieces are starting to fall in place. Nobody expected Jackson to have the season he had in 2019. This time we should see it coming. Don’t be surprised if we see similar production from Murray in 2020.