When Kyler Murray was selected with the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, conventional wisdom was that he'd need a few seasons to develop into an NFL-level passer. The rookie has only needed a few weeks.
As Mike Jurecki pointed out on Twitter Tuesday, Murray was pedestrian through the first five weeks of the season, but he has been electric ever since.
Through the first five weeks, Murray completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 1,324 yards, with four touchdowns and four interceptions. That gave him a passer rating of 80.1. Over the next six weeks of the season, Murray smashed those numbers.
From Week 6 on, Murray completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 1,379 yards, with 10 touchdowns and just one interception. That put his passer rating at 102.8. That's a vast improvement over the start to the season. His efficiency has been fairly staggering. Murray isn't turning the ball over, and he's completed two-thirds of his passes in six of his last nine names, and two of those came against San Francisco's outstanding pass defense.
Overall as a rookie, Murray is completing 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,703 yards, with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. He's averaging 6.9 yards per attempt, has a passer rating of 91.2 and a his QBR of 62.8 ranks ninth in the NFL. On top of that, he's rushed for 418 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
Everyone expected Murray's legs to get him out of trouble at times as a rookie and for his ability to escape to hinder his development as a passer. Why would he stand in the pocket after a few reads when he could just escape and rack up yards? Well, that hasn't been the case. Murray has scrambled a decent amount this season, but he usually keeps his eyes downfield when doing so. He's topped 30 yards rushing six times this season, but hasn't relied on his legs as a crutch. Instead he's used his arm to make things happen. His ability to run and his speed in the open field make him incredibly dangerous, but he hasn't needed to rely on it so far as a rookie.
Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury's system has certainly helped Murray develop, as he has a number of options available to him at all times. It helps that the rookie signal-caller ran a similar offense under Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma. But Murray's improved accuracy and decision-making has come so quickly that the player himself deserves the credit. It's been a fairly wild transformation, especially when you consider Murray only started for one season in college.
The Cardinals have lost four straight games, so we shouldn't pretend everything is fixed in Arizona. But Murray has been so good over the past six weeks, it has to give fans something to be excited about.
If the Cardinals can secure a difference-making defender, some offensive line help and a long-term answer at wideout this offseason, they could be a team to reckon with in the NFC. They've already found their long-term answer at quarterback.