Tag Archives: Larry Fitzgerald

Kyler Murray: The NFL’s Next MVP

Kyler Murray will be the Most Valuable Player in the NFL in 2020. Yes, we are months out from training camp, let alone the regular season. So much can change from basic cuts and trades to devastating injuries. But the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 is uniquely outfitted to bring the award to the desert.

Sure, this sounds crazy now. The Arizona Cardinals just finished a 5-10-1 season. It was their fourth-straight losing season, and seventh in the past decade. But there were some mitigating factors (on top of Murray’s inexperience) that played a large part in that. Not the least of which is the defense that allowed the fourth-most points in team history.

Since this is about the MVP, an individual award, we can (somewhat) take his team’s success with a grain of salt and focus on Murray and why he makes sense for 2020 MVP.

Kyler Murray Will Be the Next MVP

History

Before we get into the numbers that Murray put up himself, let’s do a quick skim of the history of the MVP in the NFL. And we don’t even have to look too deep to recognize the pattern that has developed over the years. One that has shown a clear bias towards who will and won’t win the most-coveted individual award in the League.

Established in 1957 (yes, the award pre-dates the AFL-NFL merger of 1970), the MVP award has been awarded to the player thought to be the most indispensable to his team. That has usually been an offensive player.  More often than not, that has meant awarding a quarterback. More specifically, 38 quarterbacks have been named MVP compared to just 16 running backs.

That pattern has through recent times as quarterbacks have won every MVP since Adrian Peterson won it back in 2012. Before him, it was Shaun Alexander (05) and LaDainian Tomlinson (06) winning back-to-back. But this isn’t the biggest historical factor leading to this proclamation. We only need to look at the past few years to find that.

The past two winners of the coveted award were Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. Aside from both sharing the NFL’s glamour position, they both won the award in their second season. Unlike either Jackson or Mahomes, however, Murray started every game of his rookie campaign, perhaps giving him a leg up in development.

His Story

Murray enjoyed a fantastic collegiate career at Oklahoma playing for Lincoln Riley. His dynamic skill set made him the perfect fit for Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid scheme and he proved it in 2019. It was an uneven start but it didn’t take long for the jitterbug passer to show what made him special.

The Cardinals quarterback threw the sixth-most passes (542) in for a rookie in NFL history and joined some notable company in doing so, including a Hall of Famer. He joined Cam Newton and became just the second rookie ever to throw for over 3700 yards and run for over 540 yards, and the ninth player overall to do so.

Arizona, as mentioned, was bad on the whole and the porous offensive line allowed the sixth-most sacks. But they still managed to rank 10th in rushing. That was thanks in no small part to Murray who finished 36th overall in rushing yards. His dual-threat abilities were on full display during a three-game stretch where he averaged 10 carries per game.

He did all this with the terrible blocking, yes. But he was also the victim of depleted weaponry. His All-Pro running back David Johnson has been reduced to a shell of his former self. He saw himself replaced by his backup Chase Edmonds and later (and for good) by Miami Dolphins castoff Kenyan Drake. His top receiver was the ageless Larry Fitzgerald. That’s not good.

The Sooner the Better

Murray finished the season 15th in passing yards and completion percentage despite all the shortcomings around him. He’s in a system that is geared towards his strengths, something else he has in common with Jackson and Mahomes. This system has never featured the run and the defense will still be bad next season. In other words, he’ll need to throw a lot.

An infusion of talent is on the horizon via free agency and the draft. Depending on how they feel about young pass-catchers Christian Kirk, Damiere Byrd, and KeeSean Johnson they could focus heavily on the offensive line. They could also focus on cornerback and pass rush help because they will want to at least try to stop their opponents.

The success of Mahomes has been the result of the perfect marriage of a great situation and superb individual talent. And he still sat for a season behind Alex Smith. Baltimore overhauled their coaching staff to implement a system that would best utilize Jackson’s abilities (a novel concept, right?). But only after his rookie season.

Murray will enter his sophomore campaign with far more experience than either of those two. He’ll also have a system in place that was seemingly designed for him and that he won’t have had to learn in one offseason. All this along with the organization assumedly having a better understanding of what pieces he needs around him only enhances his prospects.

Kyler Murray, 2020 MVP

This is speculating to the extreme. No one knows how anything in the offseason will play out. But Murray answered two very important questions last season. He proved he could play in the NFL and he proved he can survive a 16-game season at his size. The next step will be improving his consistency and turning drives into points. If he does that, he will certainly be the MVP in 2020.

NFL Week 15 Game Predictions

NFL Week 15 kicks off with a battle of gunslingers in the wild AFC West and ends with a battle for NFC South Supremacy.

Predicting NFL Week 15 Games

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

In a battle for AFC West supremacy, Philip Rivers‘ Chargers will need to rebuff history; he’s lost nine straight to KC. MVP front-running Mahomes, Chiefs look to keep rolling; Eric Berry‘s expected return couldn’t come at a better time. The game’s shootout potential is heightened by injuries to both backfields.
Prediction: 33-30 Chiefs

Houston Texans at New York Jets

On the opposite ends of the spectrum, these meet with different goals in this matchup. The Jets are in full evaluation mode, down their top running back and their quarterback of the future is dealing with a foot injury that caused him to miss three games. Houston just wants to make it out healthy, albeit with a win, of course. Guys will be playing for jobs, but New York doesn’t stand much of a chance against Houston.
Prediction: 24-14 Texans

Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos

Another game with two teams whose futures seem to be going opposite ways. The upstart Browns, fresh off a win against the Panthers, look to continue building confidence and momentum behind their future star QB, Baker Mayfield. Denver’s biggest issue since Peyton Manning retired has been QB, an odd twist with John Elway running things.
Prediction: 23-20 Browns

Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons

Two teams playing out the rest of their disappointing seasons. At least for Arizona that was to be expected. Losers of five straight, Atlanta is only two years removed from a title appearance. Last year the excuse was OC Steve Sarkisian. This year will likely be put in the injury to starting RB Devonta Freeman, but one man does not a season make…unless it’s a QB. Speaking of, aside from getting Josh Rosen live reps, this season is a major dud for the other Cardinals; namely David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.
Prediction: 21-17 Falcons

Detroit Lions at Buffalo Bills

In what is a running theme for the week, we get two sub-.500 teams simply filling out the slate at this point. The Lions traded away their best receiver, lost their second best to I.R., and had their promising rookie runner also go down with a knee issue. Jim Bob Cooter’s offense obviously regressed. Buffalo has Josh Allen and not much else. That is bad for Josh Allen. Hopefully, the team can put the right pieces around him before he’s ruined by having to do too much with too little.
Prediction: Bills 17-14

Green Bay Packers at Chicago  Bears

The Bears come in flying high after shutting down the Rams and a chance to take out a rival and clinch a playoff spot. They’d like to redeem themselves for a week one loss that could have gone the other way. Look for the defense to be fired up after recent comments by Aaron Rodgers. The Packers QB did not mince words when asked about the team’s rest-of-season outlook and has the ability to get it done. Whether the players around him hold up their end remains to be seen. They were a factor in the team’s performance thus far, after all.
Prediction: Bears 27-24

Oakland Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals

Building for 2019 and beyond since the preseason; ‘Oakland’ might not be where the Raiders play sooner than expected. Having parted ways with the GM, Jon Gruden now has free reign and a bevy of premium draft picks the next couple of years. Cincinnati has lost their Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and a bunch of games – a lot before either injury happened. Might the Marvin Lewis eon finally be coming to an end?
Prediction: 20-17 Raiders

Dallas Cowboys at Indianapolis Colts

Finally a matchup with dual playoff implications. Dallas comes in winners on five straight. The offense has really opened up since acquiring Amari Cooper, but Dak Prescott has been worse on the road and against Colts-favorite, zone defense. Indy has to be rejoicing over the return of Andrew Luck to form. Aside from a clunker loss against the woeful Jags, the Colts have won six of their last seven on Luck’s arm. He’ll need to be wary of a Dallas defense that has been playing lights out. Zeke is the deciding factor here.
Prediction: 24-21 Cowboys

Miami Dolphins at Minnesota Vikings

Last week’s final play Music City Miracle impression notwithstanding, Miami gets to trade celebrating on South Beach to trying to avoid a dip in the waters of Lake Minnetonka. The luster is wearing off Adam Gase, expect sweeping changes this off-season whether he stays or goes. Minnesota already fired their OC and some have speculated that Mike Zimmer might not be too safe either. It seems that $84 million investment in Kirk Cousins was bad for everybody involved, save for Cousins’ bank account, of course.
Prediction: 27-17 Vikings

Tennessee Titans at New York Giants

Derrick Henry set a Titans record last week against the Jaguars, gets his chance for an encore against the Giants. He won’t catch them off guard like the Jags, but it’ll be interesting to see if he can end the season strong. The Titans are very much alive in the playoff race and need quarterback Marcus Mariota to keep up his recent solid play. New York won without Odell Beckham Jr last week and Get to show if it was a fluke or if there is at least some credence to the idea that OBJ is the problem. The Titans are the latest team that gets to try stopping Saquon Barkley.
Prediction: 28-21 Giants

Washington Redskins at Jacksonville Jaguars

Not much to see here folks. Be it the devastating injuries suffered by Washington or the devastatingly bad play of Jacksonville, this game is disappointment personified. In fact, the most intriguing storylines surrounding these teams is the post-surgery infections of the Skins’ Alex Smith and Derrius Guice or the benching of Blake Bortles – fresh off a contract extension – for Cody Kessler. Unless you have to, it might be best to just check the box scores on this one.
Prediction: 14-10 Jaguars

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Baltimore Ravens

Tampa Bay has far too much talent offensively to have the record they do. The problem is their defense would suggest it should be much worse. Jameis Winston has been far steadier since being reinserted as the starter, committing just two turnovers. Baltimore will once again start Lamar Jackson under center, though he could lose snaps to Joe Flacco since the Ravens are still fighting for a playoff spot. This is really the Bucs offense against the Raven D, but Jackson gives it at least one other point of interest.
Prediction: 21-17 Ravens

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

Coming off a hard-fought victory over Minnesota, Russell Wilson leads playoff-hopeful Seattle against San Francisco for the second time in three weeks. The offense was brutal versus the Vikings so a struggling Niner defense should be a welcome sight. San Fran is another team whose season has been over. When Jimmy Garoppolo went down expectations went with him. Look for Seattle to rely heavily on the ground game to get what should be one of their easier wins of the season.
Prediction: 28-14 Seahawks

New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers

This is a matchup that has always produced a lot of drama, and the expectations should be for the same. His team in a tailspin recently, home is where Ben Roethlisberger plays his best ball. They’ll need him too with James Conner set to miss another game and the running game struggling last week. Tom Brady had the best game he’s ever played in Miami and still couldn’t shake his South Beach curse. Luckily for him, Pittsburgh is not Miami. The last team with the ball wins.
Prediction: 34-28 Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams

Not what the schedule makers had in mind when this matchup was set. Still, Los Angeles is surely happy to get this draw after the lockdown they suffered in Chicago. The offense should rebound nicely against an Eagles defense that is starting JV players in the secondary. Philly has not flown this year. Injuries have played a major role, and now it seems quarterback Carson Wentz faces the very real possibility of being shut down with a fracture in his back.
Prediction: Rams 34-10

New Orleans Saints at  Carolina Panthers

New Orleans shook off a slow start and beat Tampa Bay; significant because the Rams loss puts the Saints in the driver’s seat in the NFC – New Orleans beat Los Angeles in week nine giving the Saints the tiebreaker. Carolina is sliding fast amidst rumors that Cam Newton is dealing with an injury to his reconstructed right shoulder. Not insignificant for a right-handed quarterback. Christian McCaffrey is having a stellar season but New Orleans has been good against the run most of the year, minus the Dallas game.
Prediction: Saints 34-24

NFL Week 15 Game Picks

Week 15 in the NFL should be filled with tons of excitement and action. The postseason is right around the corner and teams are vying for top-seeds and, simply, the right to make the playoffs.

NFL Week 15