Read & React: Camp Questions - Arizona Cardinals
READ & REACT: CAMP QUESTIONS
By Michael Chasco
The 2023 season is quickly approaching, and fans are flocking to training camps facilities to get a glimpse of their favorite teams. The NFC West is one of the premier divisions in the NFL, as all four members have reached the Super Bowl at least once since 2002. The division is full of storylines and unanswered questions entering the new season, and we will take a look at each team as part of a four-part series at Fighting Chance Fantasy. This week we look at the Arizona Cardinals' new regime and what to expect from quarterback Kyler Murray.
Estimated read time: 8 minutes
Who Starts at Quarterback in Week 1?
What to Expect From Kyler Post-Kliff Kingsbury
Is Kyler Part of the Problem or the Solution?
Who Starts At Quarterback in Week 1
Depending on the health of Murray, veteran Colt McCoy is the presumed starter when Arizona travels to Washington, D.C., on September 10th. McCoy is entering his 14th season in the NFL and has an opportunity to start Week 1 for the first time since 2011. McCoy, 36, is saddled with learning a new system under new offensive coordinator Drew Petzing. For the second-consecutive season, McCoy will enter a season older than his position coach in Arizona. Last year's quarterback's coach, Cameron Turner, is ten months younger than the veteran quarterback, while Petzing is six months younger than McCoy.
Petzing will have to lean on McCoy's veteran presence in his first year calling plays in the NFL until Murray is ready to return - when that date arrives, nobody is sure. Murray is recovering from a January surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus injury in his knee. Murray could miss anywhere from three to five weeks into the regular season and could be the center of a hot topic of what Arizona should do when he's ready to return. Will Murray be more concerned about his reputation than the long-term success of the Cardinals?
What to expect from Kyler post-Kliff Kingsbury
Petzing brings a contrasting style from Cleveland compared to its previous coach Kliff Kingsbury. You can probably say that about whoever Arizona decided to bring in to run the offense this season. Kingsbury was not afraid to deviate from his college-style offense and ran 91% of his plays from the shotgun, according to PFF. Kingsbury tried to be a trendsetter during his four years in the NFL. The Cardinals ran 10-personnel (1RB, 0TE, 4WR) 19% of the time in that span, with Kingsbury calling plays. The league average is 1.8% in that same amount of time, according to John Kosko of PFF.
Kingsbury ignored the primary function of an NFL offense and opted not to use a huddle and called plays while the team was still in formation. On top of installing a new system, Petzing will have to bring the basic mechanics of an NFL huddle to the Cardinals - something Murray hasn't done since taken 1st overall in the 2019 Draft. Petzing will scheme an offense that is more under-center and features a wide-zone running style. The stretch runs with James Conner will be challenging, but the offense could succeed with the combination of Murray's athleticism in play actions and rollouts. Moving the pocket could benefit Murray and boost his passing efficiency with more accessible throwing and running lanes. Can Murray learn and be comfortable with a new system while not being able to play right away? Murray has the reputation of being an ultimate competitor, and once he's ready to go, we will find out sooner than later.
Is Kyler part of the problem or part of the solution?
As soon as NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the Cardinals inserted an "independent study" clause into Murray's new five-year contract extension last year, questions swirled about his growth and maturity. The clause, which was rescinded, required him to complete four hours of independent study outside of regular team activities. Unfortunately for Murray, that stain of embarrassment still exists and has led to questions about his leadership as the highest-paid player on the roster.
There are many questions only people inside the training facility have access to. What's Murray's work ethic look like? Is he on schedule with his rehab timeline? What is Murray's attention to detail when he is in meetings? Can Murray communicate with his teammates and elevate his team to playoff aspirations? General Manager Monti Ossenfort did not draft or extend Murray and could consider a fresh start with incoming talent in Caleb Williams or Drake Maye. According to overthecap.com, the Cardinals will have just over $48 million in cap room next season and six draft picks in the top 100 next April. It will have plenty of opportunities to reshape its roster, but will Murray be part of the plan?
Follow Michael Chasco at @ChascoFCF on X
Illustration by Dustin Watson via DarkWingArt.com