ESPN: NFL execs deem Cardinals’ Kyler Murray as ‘most improved’ QB

Oct 10, 2021, 9:15 AM | Updated: 9:17 am
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 03: Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals scrambles ...
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 03: Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals scrambles toward the side line in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

After a 4-0 start to the 2021 season and being the only undefeated team left in the NFL, everyone around the league is talking about the Arizona Cardinals.

And you can’t mention the NFC West’s top team without discussing MVP candidate quarterback Kyler Murray.

Through the first four games of the year, the third-year QB is averaging a statline of 26-for-34 (76%) for 318.25 yards, 2.25 passings touchdowns and one interception per game.

He has also totaled 109 rushing yards on 23 carries (4.74 per rush) to go along with three scores.

ESPN asked executives, coaches and scouts from around the NFL to come up with quarterback progress reports through the first month of the year.

And of the 12 signal callers included on the list, the verdict is that Murray has improved the most in a certain area: pass accuracy.

He has completed 76.1% of his passes as compared to 67.2% last year. Murray’s ball location, timing and chemistry with receivers have sparked Arizona’s 4-0 start. No one doubts Murray’s enormous skill set. But some around the league are still skeptical of an air raid-heavy attack lasting in the NFL, feeling the offense relies on throw-it-up plays too often.

“You always know Kyler is going to start hot because he’s immensely talented, but I think teams sort of catch up to what [the Cardinals] do later in the year,” an AFC scout said. “So, I’m curious to see how he adjusts.”

Scheme might not matter much given Murray’s Year 3 command — and wheels that pale only in comparison to Lamar Jackson under center. Murray and his cast of weapons can overcome any perceived shortcomings, at least for now.

Other quarterbacks on the list feature three of the four the Cardinals have played in the first four games of the 2021 season.

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was deemed to have had the hottest start to the year while Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Trevor Lawrence fell under the “most confusing start” category and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matt Stafford came in as the most vindicated.

However, following the Cardinals’ 37-20 win over their then-undefeated NFC West rival, Stafford’s NFL-best 82.9 QBR fell to 77.9 and dropped him to the No. 2 spot behind Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes (81.7).

Murray currently finds himself with the third-best QBR in the league at 74.3.

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