Nicknames are tricky things. They can come out of nowhere, like a tree branch in a hurricane, so obvious they seem to have always been there, so durable they last a lifetime.
So it is with Kyler Murray, who made the unfortunate choice earlier this week to attack his teammate Chandler Jones. While praising Jones, Murray said the linebacker’s fitness may not be quite ready for a modeling session, laughing that “he takes his shirt off and she doesn’t. didn’t look too good ”.
Jones, as you would expect from an All-Pro linebacker, responded with a devastating blow to the quarterback:
Baby Yoda! Oh, it’s gonna leave a mark.
Like Baby Yoda, Murray is undersized but powerful, with vast reserves of untapped potential. Like Baby Yoda, Murray is an outsider in a vast impersonal empire. And like Baby Yoda, Murray saved a franchise that seemed lost in the wilderness.
The Cardinals beat the Vikings 34-33 on Sunday – well, given Minnesota missed a winning shot from the field, “survive” might be a better word, but every win counts equally in the standings. Arizona are now 2-0 and Murray is rapidly moving up into guarded territory at every turn.
Thanks to two games – awarded, a small sample size – Murray ranks second in the NFL in passing distance, his 689 yards behind just Derek Carr. He throws it, placing fourth in yards per attempt and finding his mark, placing second in touchdowns behind Tom Brady. Plus, it does it in style; he boasts of the league to this day.
“It’s like coaching Patrick,” Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury said, referring to his former student, who now plays for Kansas City. “You give it the green light when you have a cat like that that can do this stuff.”
Sunday’s flagship play was not unlikely. It seemed inevitable. On his own 23, Murray took the snap, rolled to his 6 before rushing forward, straight into the teeth of the Viking defense. He then passed a pass to fellow under 6-foot titan Rondale Moore, who was so wide open in the Viking high school that he could have built and managed a Starbucks franchise. Bang, touchdown from 77 yards, highlight reel hit.
“It’s all reaction, instinct, get out of there,” Murray said after the game. “We’ve been working on scrambling exercises all week, so I’m glad it’s starting to pay off. “
Murray scored four touchdowns in all Sunday, three in the air and one on the ground. The latter ended with Murray celebrating in a classic sukhasana yoga pose – legs crossed, palms up – which fans of the world-starts-with-me have mistaken for a tribute to Baby Yoda.
“I got to my phone and saw people talking about ‘Baby Yoda’, and I had no idea what it was,” Murray said. “I’ve never watched Star Wars before. Too long.”
Unfortunately for Murray, Baby Yoda’s nickname is too perfect, too current, to go away. If counterfeit t-shirt vendors aren’t selling Murray / Baby Yoda merchandise by the time the Cardinals return to play in San Francisco in Week 5, someone’s gone slow.
A bigger picture, however: Murray is emerging as a true franchise quarterback, the one who leads in every element of the game. He has organized off-season practice, he has become more vocal in the caucus, he is remaking the game. team in its image.
“I really think he’s taken ownership of the whole organization,” Kingsbury told SI’s Albert Breer on Sunday. “He knows we’ll go as far as he takes us… I’ve seen a different work ethic, a different leadership style, a different approach on a daily basis. So, we just have to keep going like this.
Over the coming week, the Cardinals will secure the Jacksonville draw, which means Arizona should go 3-0 by the time they head to the division’s first round in October.
It’ll be a tough challenge for Arizona to upset their three division rivals, all of whom have stronger and newer Super Bowl pedigrees. But Baby Yoda expressed it best when he said… absolutely nothing. Baby Yoda doesn’t speak. He just looks good and gets the job done, a noble goal for Arizona this year.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at [email protected]