The 2020 Kyler Murray MVP hype train is officially in full swing.
Following a very successful rookie campaign in which he secured AP 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, many national analysts and media alike are labeling Murray as a “dark house” MVP candidate.
Furthermore, Caesars Sportsbook in Las Vegas just released their MVP odds with Kyler Murray holding court amongst some of the league’s most elite quarterbacks:
*Lamar Jackson 13-2
Dak Prescott 9-1
Russell Wilson 12-1
*Tom Brady 16-1
Kyler Murray 16-1
Drew Brees 20-1
*Brady, Mahomes and Jackson have all previously won the award.
Part of why so many believe Kyler Murray can make the critical jump in production is due to what has been done each of the last two seasons.
Both Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, entering their second year in the NFL, secured MVP trophies. Like Murray, both individuals were first round picks with crazy high upside given their abilities.
More specifically, their abilities to both throw and run with the football.
Murray, while similar in that respect, has a much daunting task ahead when compared to Mahomes and Jackson. While those two individuals were drafted into stable organizations led by likely Hall of Fame caliber coaches, Murray’s current situation is far different.
The Cardinals famously selected Murray first overall last spring. Patrick Mahomes, while selected 10th in 2017, was secured via a trade up by the already playoff savvy Chiefs. Jackson fell all the way to pick 32 before Baltimore snagged him.
Kyler Murray took his lickings year one even while securing rookie of the year honors, while Mahomes and Jackson played sparingly while sitting behind the likes of Alex Smith and Joe Flacco.
Lamar Jackson would go on to replace Flacco during the 2018 season due to lack of productivity before leading the Ravens back to the playoffs.
Sure, the Cardinals just gifted Murray All Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and RB Kenyan Drake is now in the fold for a full 16 game season.
However, the Cardinals play in a much more loaded division that sports a trio of head coaches (McVay, Carroll, Shanahan) that have at least reached the Super Bowl.
As much promise as Cardinal head coach Kliff Kingsbury showed a season ago, he’s still largely unproven. Combine that with the fact that Arizona’s offensive line is still relatively average and you’ve got at least some cause for concern.
Oh, and did I mention the fact that even in year two, Kyler Murray will still likely be carrying a team with a below average defense that is helmed by hot seat candidate Vance Joseph?
To secure an MVP trophy, the winner generally has to do one of two things:
A. Lead his team to a top seed in their respective conference while sporting elite level production in the process.
B. Have a historically great, individual season statiscally while also securing a playoff spot.
The most recent example of the latter is that of Adrian Peterson back in 2012, who coincidentally happens to be the last non-quarterback to secure the award.
Peterson helped the Minnesota Vikings earn a wild card birth that season, but it was his ridiculously great numbers (2097 yards rushing, 6.0 YPC, 12) that pushed him over the top for league MVP.
Peterson finished just eight yards shy of the single season rushing record.
The difference when it comes to Kyler Murray and the quarterback position is that generally if that individual has a historically great statistical season, it likely leads to more wins.
QB WINZ, if you will.
That is, if the defense can at least be marginal in the process. Remember, even when Patrick Mahomes was firing on all cylinders back in 2018, KC still managed to finish 24th in total defense.
This is your daily reminder that the Cardinals and Vance Joseph finished dead last in next to every major defensive category a season ago.
So can Kyler Murray, with the supporting cast in house, get this team to a top 2-3 seed in the NFC?
I have my doubts, specifically when it comes to Vance Joseph’s ability to elevate this defense to top 20 status.
The bottomline is that any Kyler Murray MVP campaign would likely need to be aided, at minimum, by double digit Arizona Cardinal victories.