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By: John W. Buckley
Kyler Murray is finally back from injury… and he looked pretty good last week. But there are still questions about whether he is a true franchise QB. What can Kyler do to answer those questions for good over the rest of the season?
This Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals take on the Houston Texans in matchup that was looking like a Tank Bowl before the season. But the Texans are better than anyone expected this year, and the Cardinals’ first win since Week 3 saw them fall out of the projected top three picks in the 2024 draft.
So instead of eyes being on the draft standings this weekend, eyes will instead be on the quarterbacks taking the field. Rookie C.J. Stroud has been a revelation for the Texans under first-year coach DeMeco Ryans. He’s the prohibitive OROY favorite and is a dark-horse MVP candidate. The Texans look like they’ve found their QB for the next decade.
It might be tempting for Cardinals fans to look across the field at Stroud this Sunday and dream about someone like Caleb Williams or Drake Maye taking the league by storm in a Cardinals uniform next season. (Although we sadly wouldn’t be able to draft one of them with the Texans pick now.)
But… do the Cardinals even need to worry about drafting a QB this year? Do we already have our franchise QB in Kyler Murray? That might sound like a stupid question—he’s a former OROY, a two-time Pro Bowler, and, most importantly, is being paid like a franchise QB at $50M a year. (When his extension kicks in next year, anyway.)
Here’s another but. But… league observers have speculated that the Cardinals would take a QB in next year’s draft ever since Kyler’s ACL injury late last season. There are well-documented reports of friction between Kyler and team. (Albeit the old regime.) And there’s a vocal contingent of the fanbase that has been calling for the team to move on from Kyler since even before his injury, including here in the RotB comments.
There seems to be a good deal of uncertainty around whether Kyler Murray really is this team’s franchise QB, despite his credentials and contract. So the final seven games of the season would seem to be a test of sorts for Kyler to prove that he’s THE guy and that the Cardinals can spend their draft capital elsewhere and continue to build around him.
Today, we’ll take a quick look at the cases for and against Kyler being the team’s franchise QB and discuss what—if anything—he needs to do over the next seven games to put any doubts to rest. Let’s start with the case against.
The Brief Case Against Kyler
I’m going to do these in bullet-point format and just cover the big-picture themes. I’m not really going to address rumors or subjective things like his demeanor on the sidelines.
- His lack of prototypical franchise QB stature (he’s listed at 5’10” and 207 lbs.).
- Five games under .500 for his career (26-31-1).
- Zero divisional titles or playoff victories in his career.
- Consistent questions about his leadership abilities ever since he entered the league.
- Consistent questions about his ability to read defenses ever since he entered the league.
- The infamous “study clause” that was eventually removed from his contract extension.
- His major ACL injury suffered in December 2022.
The Brief Case for Kyler
Same as above—bullet points and big-picture items only. I won’t mention college achievements either.
- Won 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year.
- 2× Pro Bowler (2020, 2021).
- Led the Cardinals to their first playoff appearance in six years in his third season.
- Elite arm strength and proven dual-threat abilities as a runner.
- Over 14,000 passing yards, 84 passing TDs against 42 INTs, plus 2,200+ rushing yards and 24 TDs in 4+ seasons.
- Only player in NFL history with a passing TD and rushing TD in 5 consecutive games.
- Returned from ACL injury in less than 11 months and led a comeback victory in his first game back.
So… is Kyler Murray a true franchise QB? The point of this piece isn’t to come down on one side or the other, but to show more or less where we stand with Kyler at this point in the season. Those next seven games will ultimately help the team decide on one side or the other.
But to my eyes, last Sunday was a big step in the right direction for answering that question with a yes. He looked healthy, engaged, and fiery, willing the team to a win with his arm and his legs. It got me excited to imagine how he’ll look in another couple games once he’s gotten more reps in the offense and is back into true game shape. Or even further, imagining next year when GM Monti Ossenfort has added even more talent on the O-line and at the skill positions.
Again: The next seven games will tell a lot. Much more than just one game against a mediocre opponent. But, yeah, I’m thinking Kyler’s back. With a vengeance.
So what more does he need to do in those next seven games to prove beyond a doubt that he’s THE guy? Here are a handful of things.
- Stay healthy. Obviously.
- Make more “wow” plays like that amazing scramble for a first down on the game-winning drive.
- Pick up another 2-3 wins, ideally including an upset within the division or over the Eagles.
- Show that he’s a true leader on and off the field. (Subjective, I know.)
Your turn, RotBers. Do YOU think Kyler is our franchise QB moving forward? What does he need to do over the final seven games to prove to YOU that he’s the guy? Vote in the poll and make your case for or against him in the comments.
Originally posted on Revenge Of The Birds