You can feel it, right? That low rumble underneath your feet?
It’s not an earthquake, though you’d be forgiven for thinking so. No, that would be the groundswell of MVP buzz surrounding the electrified play of Kyler Murray just two weeks into the young NFL season.
The Arizona Cardinals quarterback was always expected to follow up last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign well, but an MVP run? That seemed a little far-fetched given that Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Russell “Mr. Unlimited” Wilson play football.
But then Bill O’Brien made a — how can I put this — a trade that could shutter a fantasy league, sending all-world wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for a too-often-hobbled David Johnson. That’s when Murray’s MVP stock first soared, immediately jumping from +2000 to +1250, per Sports Betting Dime.
As the season inched closer, his MVP odds naturally settled down to around pre-Hopkins numbers. But the media hype was just getting started.
Comparing Kyler Murray to reigning NFL MVP
After the trade, Fox’s Skip Bayless and ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky both said Murray was high on their list. Over the summer, an unnamed NFL offensive coordinator reportedly told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that he’d eventually be harder to stop than Lamar. The phrase “dark horse” was thrown around a lot. (Sportsnaut might’ve gotten in on the fun, too.)
And after Murray went up to San Francisco and ran all over the defending NFC champion 49ers in Week 1, things really kicked up a notch. Bleacher Report’s Adam Lefkoe said he thinks the 23-year-old “will be the leading MVP vote-getter at the quarter pole.” The gang over at Good Morning Football was equally bullish. They were far from the only ones.
Breaking down Kyler Murray’s MVP buzz
The thing about all the talk is that it’s kind of merited. Murray was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and grew noticeably with practically every game. There were bright spots all throughout his play, like how quickly he managed to read defenses and get the ball out to his receivers. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury routinely praised his rookie for his cool, calm demeanor. This from the guy who spotted up here on draft day.
Murray’s final tally of 3,700 yards, 20 touchdowns and more than 500 rushing yards only further forecasted a special career. And while his Oklahoma predecessor Baker Mayfield struggled as an NFL sophomore, Lamar and Mahomes each won their MVP hardware in their second seasons as starters. The blueprint was there.
So far, K1 has been up to the challenge. He connected with Hopkins 14 times in Week 1 and has a QBR of 84.1. He’s also straight up gashing defenses on the ground, and is the only quarterback in NFL history with 150-plus yards and three touchdowns through two games.
Not to mention his team is 2-0. After Arizona cruised to a 30-15 victory over the Washington Football Team on Sunday, the Cardinals now must have 5-0 in their sights. The team’s next three opponents — the Lions, Panthers and Jets — are a combined 0-6. That Murray MVP buzz? Yeah, it’s just the beginning.