ESPN’s Clark says Cards’ Kyler Murray could make the Josh Allen jump

Jun 10, 2021, 8:50 PM

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen began 2020 as a dark horse for the NFL’s MVP award.

He finished the season completing 69.2% of his passes for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns along with 10 interceptions. By the end of the year, he was runner-up, finishing second in the MVP voting behind Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

With that came a major improvement compared to his first two years in Buffalo in nearly every statistical category.

Josh Allen Comp% Yds TD Int RTG QBR
2018-19 52.8 2,074 10 12 67.9 49.8
2019-20 58.8 3,089 20 9 85.3 49.4
2020-21 69.2 4,544 37 10 107.2 81.7

This kind of jump is rare for young quarterbacks, though Patrick Mahomes and Allen have made sudden leaps into stardom over the past several seasons.

But ESPN’s Ryan Clark believes there is another quarterback who can make a Josh Allen-type jump in 2021.

“I’m gonna go with Kyler Murray,” Clark said Monday on ESPN’s Get Up.

“I was huge on Kyler Murray early on. Last season, he kind of got banged up. The wheels were down, and you saw that once his athleticism was gone. He didn’t really work the ball down the field like he wanted it to. I know they have A.J. Green on the outside, but it’s going to be about D-Hop. It’s going to be about what Christian Kirk can do. It’s also going to be about Kliff Kingsbury.”

That’s high praise for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise given Murray’s steady improvements from Year 1 to Year 2.

Kyler Murray Comp% Yds TD Int RTG QBR
2019-20 64.4 3,722 20 12 87.4 57.7
2020-21 67.2 3,971 26 12 94.3 68.9

Most of these improvements can be credited to the addition of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last offseason, but Murray still has to make the throws.

One of those throws was the “Hail Murray” in Week 10, when the quarterback connected on a 43-yard touchdown pass to Hopkins with 11 seconds remaining to defeat the Bills.

Maybe just as impressive was that Murray outdueled Allen in the Cardinals’ 32-20 victory. Murray finished the game with 245 yards passing, three total touchdowns and only one interception while Allen ended with 284 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Clark thinks that the Cardinals quarterback can have an MVP-type season in 2021 as long as Murray doesn’t hold on to the ball too long.

“How do you scheme up on-time plays for Kyler Murray to get the ball out of his hands, where it doesn’t matter how athletic he is and what his legs can do? If you get those things for Kliff Kingsbury, I think we see Kyler Murray in some of these MVP conversations,” Clark said.

What allowed Allen to make the jump that he did last season were weapons and scheme.

Along with a solid offensive line, he has receivers Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley to get the ball to quickly. Allen also has one the best offensive minds and play-callers in offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

Murray has Hopkins and Kirk, and the quarterback should be safer in the pocket and getting leadership help after Arizona added veteran center Rodney Hudson this offseason. Add that with Kingsburry’s creative playcalling, and there’s a case to be made for Murray as a dark horse for MVP this season.

According to VegasInsider, he currently has the ninth best odds to win the award, six spots behind Allen.

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