The Arizona Cardinals are off to a blistering start to begin the 2021 NFL season and are the last remaining undefeated team with a 4-0 record. A key component of that is the play of quarterback Kyler Murray, who has jumped out to an MVP-start and made Kliff Kingsbury smile bright.
The Cardinals defense has also held their own, and the addition of JJ Watt certainly helps in that regard. While Murray has been the talk of the team, and DeAndre Hopkins remains as one of the best receivers in the league, Arizona has had a couple of players make some surprises.
James Conner signed a one-year deal in the offseason and has been a nice addition, but one of the bigger aspects is the play of veteran wide receiver AJ Green, who is off to a hot start in his first year without a Cincinnati Bengals uniform on.
The Cardinals offense is clicking and AJ Green is reaping the benefits
The Cardinals signed Green in the offseason after the Bengals parted ways. In his nine-year tenure with Cincinnati, he made the Pro Bowl seven times and had six 1000-yard seasons. However, he played just nine games in 2018 and was ineffective in 2020 and the Bengals decided to part ways with the veteran.
Enter the Cardinals, who took a flier on him and are reaping the benefits thus far. Arizona’s offense sits first in points per game and yards per game, third in pass yards per game, and sixth in rushing yards per game. Every phase is working for Arizona and there are a ton of reasons for that.
Perhaps the biggest reason is the play of Murray, who has jumped to the front of the MVP ladder after the first month. Murray’s performance has helped Green, who has 15 catches for a team-high 248 yards and a pair of scores in a bit of a resurgence for him.
For some perspective, Green had just 523 yards in the entire 2020 season and 694 yards the year prior through nine games. If it keeps up, he should be able to blow by those numbers and revitalize his career in Arizona.
Murray’s MVP play is a huge reason for the Cardinals success
This pass from Murray to Green is a prime example of how the Cardinals quarterback is helping Green get back to his old ways. Moreover, the former first overall pick is making everybody on Arizona flourish.
Through four games, he has 1273 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. On top of that, Murray has rushed for 109 yards and three scores. Christian Kirk, Rondale Moore, Hopkins, and Green all have more than 200 yards on the year and tight end Maxx Williams is right behind with 179.
Everything is clicking for Arizona, and at this rate, Murray should run away with the MVP award especially if they can continue to win football games. But, there are some concerns after the Cardinals got off to a hot start in 2020 and diminished down the stretch.
Green is back and should continue to thrive with Murray’s performance
For years Green was the top option on the offense with the Bengals. Suddenly, Green is the second wide receiving option and could be the third or fourth player opposing defenses zero in on as Hopkins, Conner, and Chase Edmonds all have drawn attention, not to mention Moore.
The ball is being spread around in Arizona at a successful clip, and Murray is making terrific decisions time and time again and has Arizona as the talk of the NFL.
If they can continue playing like this, Murray should be the favorite for the MVP award, and Green and Hopkins could form one of the best receiving duos in the NFL.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference