Wins are the ultimate litmus test in the NFL.
But it isn’t just “wins,” it’s the way the game’s played. The fashion in which the job gets done.
For rookies, especially quarterbacks, these first games can say a lot about a player and about a team.
It’s no different for Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray, who comes to the team that won just three games, with two victories coming off the struggling San Francisco 49ers last season.
While 2018 was an obvious disappointment, ending with a massive turnover of personnel, how can Murray turn the page for the franchise?
NFL Network’s Terrell Davis believes it’s about the “eyeball” test in year one, looking the part, staying consistent and stepping up in the moment.
Max Starks, however, believes it takes something that wasn’t seen last season.
“I think wins factor into this, but more specifically I need to see a signature win,” Starks said on NFL Total Access on Sunday. “That’s one of the things that was missing, and the reason why Steve Wilks is gone, why Josh Rosen is gone is because they didn’t have that signature victory.
“For the Cardinals and Kyler Murray, I need to see the signature win, a come-from-behind victory against a good team.”
Starks went as far as even providing an example as to what that signature win would have looked like for Wilks and Co. last season.
Remember Von Miller’s comments heading into Thursday Night Football against Arizona?
After starting 2-4 on the season, the Broncos linebacker came out saying Denver was “going to kick their [expletive].”
Instead of quieting the outside noise, the Cardinals played into it, suffering one of the worst losses of the year. The team fell 45-10 in their lone primetime appearance.
Rosen committed three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, and accounted for just 194 yards and a score.
“That would have been a perfect opportunity, Thursday Night Football, they didn’t get that, they didn’t get a signature division win.”
Wins weren’t the only important part of Murray’s success in 2019, according to the duo.
“Health for 16 games,” Starks said when discussing the rookie. “That will also correlate to those wins. Can he stay on the field and be healthy?”
“Especially with his size,” Davis added. “I think people are questioning how big he is and can he withstand an NFL schedule for a season. That would be important as well.”
Listed by the Cardinals at 5-foot-10, 207 pounds, Murray is not the typical NFL QB you’ve seen on the field over the years.
If he can stay healthy, however, that in itself could pay dividends for a rookie trying to find his footing in the NFL and a team looking to escape the basement of the NFL.