Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season is in the books, and a select few players have already distinguished themselves from the pack as far as their individual performance. It’s never too early to take a look at the MVP race, so let’s examine three quarterbacks who are standing out so far this season; Derek Carr, Tom Brady, and Kyler Murray.
The GOAT is at it again in the early going this year. First, leading a Week 1 comeback against the Dallas Cowboys and then carving up the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2. Brady has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looking like the favorites in the NFL. His connection with Rob Gronkowski has proved to be an unsolvable puzzle for opposing defenses.
Brady has 655 yards, nine touchdowns, and two picks through two games. He’s only been sacked three times as his offensive line is playing well, and the Bucs’ defense has become a premier unit. The Falcons and Saints don’t appear to be playoff contenders this year. That means that Brady’s performances against the Carolina Panthers in the upcoming weeks will mean a lot for his MVP candidacy. It will also be key in the Bucs’ playoff positioning.
The Cowboys and Falcons are two of the worst defenses in football and I suspect my aged grandmother could throw for a few touchdowns on them. So you could say that Brady has had it easy so far. He’ll be facing the Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, and Philadelphia Eagles in the next four weeks. So, we’ll see if his early-season success holds up against tougher competition.
The Arizona Cardinals are one of three NFC West teams standing at 2-0. Former number one overall pick Kyler Murray is a big part of the reason why. Murray is second in the NFL in passing yards at 689 yards, behind only the guy we’ll talk about next. Murray is completing over 73% of his passes. He’s benefitted from a stellar receiver group that includes DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, Christian Kirk, and former Bengals star AJ Green. If those receivers don’t beat a defense, Murray does damage with his legs. He’s rushed ten times for 51 yards and two scores so far. By doing so, Murray has proven to be one of the most electric runners from the quarterback position in the NFL.
Like Brady, Murray hasn’t faced the harshest competition so far, with a Week 1 demolition of the Tennessee Titans and a Week 2 victory over the lowly Vikings where Minnesota missed a potential game-winning field goal with no time left. What will Murray do against divisional opponents? That question will be answered soon, with games against the Rams and 49ers on the horizon.
If you ask most talking heads, they will tell you that Las Vegas Raiders signal-caller Derek Carr is the MVP frontrunner after two weeks. Carr leads the league in passing yardage with 817 yards: 128 yards ahead of second-place Murray. He’s completing two-thirds of his passes and has four passing touchdowns. Though he does have one unfortunate interception, taking place in overtime against the Ravens when the football went pinballing around the end zone. Carr is currently on pace to throw for over 6,900 yards in 2021. Carr has plenty of success whether or not the opponents blitz him. He sports a passer rating of 96 without a blitz but a rating of 120 with a blitz coming.
The most impressive part of Carr’s campaign thus far is that he has carved up two of the finest defenses in the NFL in Baltimore and Pittsburgh in succession without the aid of a functional running game. Star running back Josh Jacobs has struggled with a toe injury and, the entirety of the offensive attack has fallen on Carr’s shoulders. His mastery of Jon Gruden’s offense has shone through as he’s been able to march the Raiders down the field in clutch situations. None of what Carr is doing this season is out of character for him in his career, but the Raiders’ new and improved defense has helped the team hang on to the wins this season and made fans and media alike pay attention to Carr and what he can do. We are seeing him ascend to elite status before our eyes.
There’s still a lot of football left to be played…
The season is far from over, and with 17 games to play instead of 16, we are sure to see some eye-popping stats and broken records this year. Other players like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Russell Wilson will have their say in the MVP race before all is said and done. But at least for now, Carr is head and shoulders above the field.
*Top Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports