Rookies Kyler Murray and Daniel Jones will face career-long comparisons after being the first two quarterbacks selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. Early on, it’s no contest.
Murray, benefiting from the fact that he was the starter when training camp opened, ranks ninth in the league with 1,664 passing yards. He has led Arizona on game-winning, fourth-quarter drives the last two weeks as the Cardinals (2-3-1) prepare to meet Jones and the New York Giants (2-4) on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.
“People take it for granted (but) he’s still a rookie,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said of Murray. “Everybody expected him to be Joe Montana since Day 1. It’s a process. He’s taken it full on. When you have a skill set like he has, you should shoot for the moon. And he does.”
Murray is the reigning NFC Player of the Week after passing for 340 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 32 yards and the game-clinching first down in a 34-33 victory over the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday. He entered that game as the first player in league history with at least 1,300 passing yards and 200 rushing yards in his first five games.
Jones, the sixth player taken in the draft, is 2-2 in four starts since supplanting Eli Manning as the starter. The Giants won his first two starts before falling to Minnesota and New England.
Jones passed for 336 yards and two touchdowns and had two touchdown runs in a 32-31 victory over Tampa Bay in his initial start Sept. 22, helping the Giants overcome an 18-point deficit. He threw for a season-low 161 yards and had season-high three interceptions in his last outing, a 35-14 loss against the Patriots on Oct. 10.
“I’ve been good and been bad,” Jones said. “There are certainly a lot of things to learn.”
The Murray/Jones matchup will be the ninth since the 1970 merger in which rookie quarterbacks drafted in the top 10 will meet. The higher pick is 5-3 in those games.
Either or both could step up Sunday. New York and Arizona are among the most susceptible defenses in the league, ranked 28th and 30th in yards allowed per game, respectively. The Cardinals are giving up 28.5 points a game. The Giants, 26.7. The Giants have committed a league-high 15 turnovers and are minus-7 in turnover ratio.
At the same time, both teams will have addition tools to work with. Arizona’s eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson is to make his first start after missing the first six games for violating the NFL performance-enhancing drug policy.
Giants running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and tight end Evan Engram (knee) were both cleared to play.
Barkley, who led the league with 2,208 yards from scrimmage a year ago, missed the last 3 1/2 games after suffering a sprained right ankle in the first half against Tampa Bay. But wide receiver Sterling Shepard remained in the league concussion protocol and will miss his second straight game and third of the season.
Arizona No. 2 receiver Christian Kirk (ankle) was limited in practice Wednesday after sitting out the previous two games. Running back David Johnson (back) did not practice, although he had limited practice time last week before getting 102 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, against Atlanta.
—Field Level Media