Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate PHNX Sports Community!

Joe Burrow's success turns pressure up on Kyler Murray

Johnny Venerable Avatar
January 31, 2022

Not all first overall picks are created equal. Some players are fortunate to end up with historically well-run organizations such as Eli Manning (Giants) and Andrew Luck (Colts). Others, however, are tagged with the label of “culture changer” for they bear the burden of landing with a team that has been riddled with failure.

Hence why they were saddled with the first overall pick to begin with.

That’s where the similarities parallel each other when it comes to Kyler Murray and Joe Burrow. Taken with the first overall pick in consecutive drafts (2019, 2020), Murray and Burrow went to Super Bowl-less organizations that were in the midst of complete tear downs. Murray’s Cardinals had just completed an abysmal 2018 campaign in which Arizona sported one of the worse offenses in modern NFL history. Burrow, meanwhile, went to a Bengals team that won a mere two games in 2020.

Fast-forward to the present, and despite a one year head start, Murray has officially fallen behind Joe Cool.

Even with two Pro Bowl berths and an Offensive Rookie of the Year award to his name, Kyler Murray’s Redbirds sport zero NFC West division titles during his three seasons in the league. Combine that with a brutal one-and-done appearance during this year’s postseason and the arms race against his fellow Heisman winner appears to be going sideways fast.

That’s because Joe Burrow is in the midst of perhaps the greatest regular season turnaround in recent memory. After seeing much of his rookie campaign washed away due to injury, Burrow has bounced back to complete a magical 2021 season. Despite being universally picked to finish last in the ultra competitive AFC North (sound familiar), Burrow’s Bengals won the division for the first time since 2015.

Speaking of 2015, that year also represents the last time the Arizona Cardinals won the NFC West.

After securing their illustrious division title, Burrow has made quick work of his AFC counterparts in securing the organizations’ first playoff win(s) since 1990 as well as their first AFC Championship since 1988. Despite a roster that two seasons ago was panned by the large majority of NFL critics, Burrow has elevated those around him in roughly 18 months to the cusp of the teams’ first ever Super Bowl trophy. If Burrow is able to seal the deal in two weeks against the vaunted LA Rams, he’ll be the first player in league history to secure a Heisman trophy, a College Football National Championship and a Super Bowl title.

Burrow is also the fastest number one overall pick to make his Super Bowl debut.

Coincidence? I think not.

Which brings us back to Kyler Murray who is currently watching a Rams team that knocked his Cardinals out of the playoffs compete for the Lombardi trophy. Like the Bengals, Murray’s Cardinals were in the midst of a stellar season before inexplicably collapsing at the finish line en route to a 1-5 finish. Unlike Burrow, however, Murray was unable to seal the deal for his Cardinals in the form of a division title. Yet the excuse making that was so prominently on display following Arizona’s collapse was no where to be found in Cincinnati.

Burrow and coach Zac Taylor didn’t whine or complain about their lack of postseason experience, rather took the opportunity slay demon after demon on their way to defeating the giant that was the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s AFC Championship game. That’s with an offensive line that likely entered the NFL postseason as the weakest amongst all teams, including the Cardinals. The Bengals don’t have an indoor practice facility, much less a fancy new team jet.

What they do have, however, is the ultimate leader at quarterback.

If it wasn’t clear already, Burrow’s elevation of the historically inept Bengals cranks the pressure up on Murray to do the same. Which means no more public displays of poor body language or foolish talk of offseason baseball aspirations. To match the greatness that is Joe Burrow, the Cardinals and their fans need Kyler Murray to be all football, all the time. That’s what it will take to emulate the success we’re seeing out of Cincinnati.

That’s what it will take for the Arizona Cardinals to finally win a Super Bowl.

Follow Johnny Venerable on Twitter

Get Arizona's Best Sports Content In Your Inbox!

Become a smarter Arizona sports fan with the latest game recaps, analysis and exclusive content from PHNX's writers and podcasters!

Just drop your email below!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?