Kyler Murray Or Lamar Jackson: Who Is The Better Quarterback?

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Kyler Murray Or Lamar Jackson: Who Is The Better Quarterback?

Football

Kyler Murray Or Lamar Jackson: Who Is The Better Quarterback?

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Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Two elite options at quarterback, two very different yet unique playstyles. One just got handed the bag, the other one continues to negotiate for the said bag. 

A topic of discussion during the 2022 NFL offseason has been the comparison of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Fans and analysts alike love to give their top quarterback lists and argue and debate about more than just the best quarterback. This conversation is often brought up because of how close they are when being ranked.

When comparing any players, especially quarterbacks, multiple things are debated. Stats, postseason success, and the team around the quarterbacks are among the three. 

Stat Comparison And Teams Around The Quarterbacks:

Statistically, it is a little harder compared to other quarterback conversations when comparing these two because of Jackson’s extensive run-game capabilities and how the Ravens have built an offense around his legs. While Murray still uses his dual-threat capabilities often, he is much more of a thrower and has exemplified that through his first three years compared to Jackson. 

All stats via Pro Football Reference

Kyler Murray Passing/Rushing Stats, 2021:

14 games, 9-5 record, 333-481 completions-attempts, 69.2% completion percentage, 3,787 pass yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 100.6 quarterback rating, 10 interceptions, 31 sacks, 88 rush attempts, 423 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns, 16 Overall AV (Overall Adjusted Value Score)

 

Lamar Jackson Passing/Rushing Stats, 2021:

12 games, 7-5 Record, 246-382 completions-attempts, 64.4% completion percentage, 2,882 pass yards, 16 passing touchdowns, 87.0 quarterback rating, 13 interceptions, 38 sacks, 133 rush attempts, 767 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, 11 Overall AV (Overall Adjusted Value Score)

Last season, it is unquestionably true that Kyler Murray was the better quarterback. 

Yes, he had two more games compared to Jackson, but taking away two of his best games does not make up for nearly 1,000 passing yards, 11 combined total touchdowns, and a 13 quarterback rating difference. Furthermore, he had seven fewer sacks and three fewer interceptions in two more games. Murray also had a much healthier team around him and started the season 7-0. The Ravens were, by far, the most injured team in 2021 and still managed to finish with eight wins.

Now, I want to make something clear about how I compare these next two season groupings. 

In Jackson’s 2019 MVP campaign, he was objectively the best quarterback in the league. A 25 Overall AV, First-Team All-Pro, runner up to win the Offensive Player of the Year, and a Pro Bowler. Kyler Murray was in his rookie season, figuring out NFL defenses and finding his way toward success. He still won Offensive Rookie of the Year, but his 48 sacks and the Cardinals’ 5-10-1 record prove Murray was not given much to work with in year one. 

Instead of comparing the three years that they were both in the league together (I will still do it at the end just for what it’s worth), I was going to compare their rookie seasons. But, because Jackson only started seven games as a rookie in 2018, I am going to compare just their campaigns between 2020 and 2021.

Kyler Murray Passing/Rushing Stats, 2020-2021:

30 games, 17-13 Record, 708-1039 completions-attempts, 68.1% completion percentage, 7,758 pass yards, 50 passing touchdowns, 97.2 quarterback rating, 22 interceptions, 58 sacks, 221 rushing attempts, 1,242 rushing yards, 16 rushing touchdowns, 32 Overall AV.

Lamar Jackson Passing/Rushing Stats, 2021-2021:

27 games, 18-9 Record, 488-758 completions-attempts, 64.4 completion percentage, 5,639 pass yards, 42 passing touchdowns, 93.1 quarterback rating, 22 interceptions, 67 sacks, 292 rushing attempts, 1,772 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns, 29 Overall AV.

As you can see, Murray drastically improved on his sack problem in the past three years with just 10 more sacks in years two and three compared to his rookie season. Despite playing three games less, Jackson has 500 more rushing yards and the same number of interceptions. But he also has nine more sacks, seven fewer rushing touchdowns, and his passing stats are far more inferior compared to Murray’s.

You absolutely cannot take away Jackson’s MVP season in any case. It was an elite year for the quarterback. But in the case of comparing him to Murray, comparing this type of season to a quarterback’s rookie season is not valid. Furthermore, Jackson’s production has declined since 2019. 

But, again, for the sake of argument:

Kyler Murray Passing/Rushing Stats, 2019-2021:

46 games, 22-23-1 Record, 1,057-1,581 completions-attempts, 66.9 completion percentage, 11,480 pass yards, 70 passing touchdowns, 93.9 quarterback rating, 34 interceptions, 106 sacks, 314 rushing attempts, 1,786 rushing yards, 20 rushing touchdowns, 46 Overall AV.

Lamar Jackson Passing/Rushing Stats, 2019-2021:

42 games, 31-11-0 Record, 753-1159 completions-attempts, 65.0 completion percentage, 8,766 pass yards, 78 passing touchdowns, 100.1 quarterback rating, 28 interceptions, 90 sacks, 468 rushing attempts, 2,978 rushing yards, 16 rushing touchdowns, 54 Overall AV.

 

Playoff Success Comparison and Teams Around the Quarterback (Part Two):

This is where I start to develop an opinion about the debate. Everyone loves to harp on Kyler Murray for not being able to get the Cardinals past the first round of the playoffs. Or for not having any postseason success even though he is JUST THREE YEARS INTO HIS CAREER. 

 

Murray got his first taste of the playoffs last season and got trampled by the eventual Super Bowl champions. It certainly was not the first experience Murray wanted, but it won’t be his last. Furthermore, it was really the Cardinals’ first or second time that they fielded a team around Murray that could get them to the playoffs and beyond. 

Lamar Jackson is 1-3 in the playoffs with some not-so-great performances. In his rookie year in 2018, Jackson and the Ravens went 10-6 only to put up just 17 points in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. He went 14-29 with 194 yards, two-one touchdowns-interceptions, seven sacks, three fumbles, and just 54 rushing yards.

In 2019, his MVP season, and the year that the Ravens went 14-2 in the regular season, Jackson lost again to Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and the Tennessee Titans after a first-round bye in the Divisional Round. 

A 2019 offense that ended an offensive drive with a score 51.8% of the time, averaging 33 points per game, put up just 12 points at home against the Titans. Jackson went 31-59 with 365 yards, one-two touchdowns-interceptions, a fumble, four sacks, and 143 rushing yards.

In 2020, Jackson got his first playoff win getting revenge at Tennessee, but put up just three points against the Buffalo Bills in a 17-3 loss. In two playoff games, Jackson was 31-48 with one total touchdown, eight sacks, 371 pass yards, 170 rushing yards, and two interceptions. These numbers show Jackson has not done much better in the postseason. Which drives the question about who the better quarterback is? 

 

Teams Around the Quarterback (Part Three):

Another argument that is loved to be made, especially by Ravens fans, is the weapons Jackson has had compared to Murray. While this can be a compelling argument, you have to ask the question: What high-level wide receivers would want to play with a quarterback or in an offensive system that is run-based? Elite pass catchers surely don’t want to go to a team where they have to run block on the outside more than they can run routes. 

Marquise Brown was a very solid option for years coming out of Oklahoma for Jackson, but never got the production he wanted and requested a trade to get what he wants. Mark Andrews is one of the better tight ends in the league and has been one of Jackson’s best targets since he was drafted in 2018. 

While Murray has had DeAndre Hopkins for the same amount of time that Jackson has had Devin Duvernay (since 2020), the Cardinals’ weapons haven’t been that much better for the amount of time being compared. Christian Kirk was never a 1,000-plus yard receiver in his four years in Arizona, and never even eclipsed six touchdowns. A.J. Green has been at Murray’s disposal for just one season, and Zach Ertz for just half of a season.

 

The Answer: Kyler Murray or Lamar Jackson?

Before doing research for this article, I was completely undecided on the question. We debated this on the TWSN Show on Tuesday, July 26, in which I still had not done enough research, and multiple of my co-hosts said they would take Jackson.

But at the end of the day, I would take Kyler Murray. His passing is way better than Jackson’s, and even though Jackson’s legs are definitely better than Murray’s, the difference is not as vast. Furthermore, Murray has shown improvement in the last two seasons, whereas Jackson has not produced anywhere close to what he achieved in his 2019 season and arguably with better teams.

 

Anthony Ravasio is a writer for TWSN and a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He also works with Overtime doing digital content creation and more writing. In his downtime, you can find Anthony watching sports, enjoying his time with friends or family, or tracking his bets on Action (or all three at once). You can find TWSN on Twitter @TWSN___ and Instagram @twsn___. You can find Anthony on Twitter @anthonyravasio or Instagram @ravasiosports as well.

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