Analysis

Has Kyler Murray Earned His New Contract?

Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray warms up before an NFC wild-card game in January. Syndication Arizona Republic

The Arizona Cardinals recently signed quarterback Kyler Murray to a five-year contract worth $230.5m with an outstanding $160m guaranteed. However, some have questioned whether Murray has earned such a large contract.

The most important things for me are how effective a QB is in the most-crucial situations, for example in 2-minute drills, the 4th Quarter and the all-important games at the end of a season. Analytics can be used well in different situations, and it’s important before giving a contract as large as this, to consider how Murray stacks up against other well-paid NFL QBs.

Methodology

For the purpose of this article we are comparing Murray against five top-performing and well-paid NFL QBs in multiple metrics.

The quarterbacks we’re comparing Murray to are:

  • Patrick Mahomes
  • Tom Brady
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Josh Allen
  • Matthew Stafford

The stats used will be averages of the QBs’ performances from 2019 to 2021, and all “Garbage Time” stats are removed for fair analysis across players.

READ MORE: Has Murray’s Gaming Cost the Cardinals?

2 Minute Drill:

It is so important to be able to score late in either half. It can have a huge effect on momentum heading into half time, or the final result. Murray has the highest completion percentage of the six QBs, but this is due to the shorter average depth of target (ADOT). Within the last two minutes of the 2nd and 4th Quarters, he has an ADOT of 9.3 yards—a whole yard shorter than the next QB on the list. Murray therefore has the second-lowest “Big-Time Throw” percentage of his attempted passes in the 2 Minute Drill (5.3%), just above Mahomes–which may be surprising.

4th Quarter:

Games can be so easily won or lost in the last quarter of an NFL game. It’s important your QB makes the right decisions and puts his team in the right positions to win. Murray has had 406 passing attempts, with 16 TDs and 11 INTs. This puts his TD:INT ratio at 1.5 in the 4th Quarter. For comparison, the other QBs ranged between 3.1 (Mahomes) and 5.3 (Allen). A higher interception percentage would be plausible if Murray had thrown the ball further downfield, or taken more risks, but still he had the lowest ADOT (9.3 yds), and Big-Time Throw Percentage (3.9%). Yet, he also had the second-highest Turnover Worthy Play Percentage (3.5%)–again, just behind Mahomes.

3rd and 4th Down:

3rd and 4th Down are the two most-crucial downs on every drive, as they decide whether you stay on the field or if the offense stalls out. Murray actually performs very well in comparison to the other QBs on these two downs, with the second-highest Big Time Throw Percentage (8.7%) and the second-lowest Turnover Worth Play Percentage (2.6%).

READ MORE: Rich Gannon Says Murray Needs to Learn How an NFL QB Prepares

Second Half of the Season (Week 10 onwards):

No NFL team wins a championship at the halfway point of a season. Many teams can turn fortunes around in the back end of a season. So, how do Kyler’s stats stack up against the others during this period. Kyler has by far the worst TD:INT ratio: 1.4, whereas his competitors ranged between 2.2 (Stafford) and 6.9 (Rodgers). He still has the joint-lowest ADOT but is right in the middle of the pack for Big Time Throw and Turnover Worthy Play Percentages.

Analytics are a great to compare one player against his peers and how well they perform under specific circumstances, but it all comes down to whether you feel this player will lead you to success.

It boils down to the one question the leaders of an organization has to ask themselves: If he isn’t our guy, then who is?

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