Russell Wilson, who has never once received even a vote for the NFL's Most Valuable Player, started off the 2020 season scalding hot. The last two weeks? Not so much. After tossing 13 touchdown passes in the first three games, Wilson has thrown only two touchdowns in the last two games with four interceptions in the same span. The Seahawks are on a two-game losing streak, and it feels like his chances to win MVP are quickly slipping away. He'll probably break that voteless streak, but Aaron Rodgers firmly holds the lead for the award at this point.
However, there is one Kyler Murray down in Arizona who would like to make his case before the season is out. Murray, who has thrown for 2,375 yards and 18 touchdowns to seven interceptions while running for 604 yards and 10 touchdowns so far this year, is coming off a huge win over the Buffalo Bills capped off by a ridiculous Hail Mary to secure the victory. Murray was a popular MVP darkhorse pick before the season began, and has made good progress in the race. He isn't the favorite by any means, but simply to be in the conversation as a second-year quarterback is a remarkable achievement.
These two quarterbacks will face off against each other tomorrow evening. It should be quite the event. Get Up discussed the matchup this morning, which led to Ryan Clark suggesting that at this point, Murray will probably win an MVP before Wilson. The claim was met with a round of agreement from his coworkers.
It's an interesting discussion. The ESPN crew is right to say that Murray is on a higher trajectory than Wilson was at his age. Wilson was a game manager for the first two or so years of his career, and only turned into the Wilson we now know near the end of his rookie deal. Murray is on pace to easily eclipse 4,000 yards passing in his sophomore season, a milestone Wilson first reached in his fourth year in the NFL. Murray is also a far more dangerous runner than Wilson ever was, even if that could be chalked up to more of a function of the offense than the gap in talent there.
But it still feels crazy to consider that Murray, who is playing great football but has yet to prove very much as a pro, could win MVP before Wilson, widely recognized as a top-five QB at worst in the NFL right now. This season's award belongs to Rodgers just past the halfway point. Wilson would need a stretch like he had to start the season to cover the gap between himself and the Packers QB at this point, and both him and Murray have the misfortune of playing in football's best division, where three of four teams in the NFC West are currently 6-3. Wins are a significant part of the MVP equation and Murray and Wilson aren't going to sleepwalk through their respective schedules with win following win because of the division.
In the future, though? Murray has the upper hand in terms of how much he can produce offensively. He's paired with offensive wiz Kliff Kingsbury. If Pete Carroll had his way, Wilson would still be handing the ball off more often than he threw it. Wilson is far and away the better passer, but Murray's production on the ground is absurd this year, with 10 rushing touchdowns in nine games. The biggest question is if the Cardinals can put together enough of a team around Murray to make him a winner, which is important for any MVP case.
The Cardinals really should be 5-4 right now and this probably wouldn't even be a discussion if not for DeAndre Hopkins and his dinner plate-sized hands. Their defense is not particularly good, although they have some good pieces like Budda Baker. Offensively, they already have a very good ensemble surrounding Murray led by Hopkins. But the defense remains a worry and Kingsbury has yet to be tested as an NFL head coach.
But Murray is 23-years-old and Kingsbury is in his second year as a head coach. Wilson is 31-years-old and Pete Carroll is nearing 70. Wilson probably still has another half-decade of elite play left in him (at least), but Murray is just getting started. It does ultimately feel more likely that Murray, in his physical prime, could put together a ridiculous statistical season and win MVP regardless of his team's success than Wilson doing the same in the next few years. Right now, the quality of supporting cast favors Murray.
Wilson is a great quarterback, and it looks like Murray is on track to be another one. But Wilson's MVP chances may have slipped away over the last two weeks, and it's hard to say it's likely he'll get another chance like that again. Murray will have a decade-plus to do just that.