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Kyler Murray Is Job One For Offensive Coordinator Drew Petzing

Cardinals new playcaller has to unlock team's franchise quarterback

Cardinals offensive coordinator Drew Petzing answers a question during a press conference on Thursday.
Cardinals offensive coordinator Drew Petzing answers a question during a press conference on Thursday.

As Jonathan Gannon interviewed candidates for the Cardinals' offensive coordinator position, there was a primary theme – Kyler Murray.

"I structured everybody that I interviewed around Kyler," Gannon said. "The questions I was asking, philosophically how we were going to play on offense, what I think is hard for defenses moving forward into 2023 and beyond, a lot of those had to do with Kyler.

"In my opinion, one of the number one jobs of the offensive coordinator is how to maximize the skillset of the quarterback. The other positions as well, but we know (QB) is the position that makes it go."

It was no surprise to anyone, including Drew Petzing, the former Browns quarterbacks coach (and worked on the same Minnesota Vikings staff with Gannon) who was introduced as the Cardinals offensive coordinator on Thursday.

Murray was brought up in the second question, and Petzing smiled. "It's going to be a hot topic, I hear."

Murray has been rehabbing at the Dignity Health Training Center, and Petzing said he's had a chance to talk to the QB already.

(A quick aside: Gannon told a story about leaving Tuesday night after 9 p.m. and seeing a "nice car" in the parking lot, only to go back inside to see whose it was. It turned out to be Murray's, with the QB doing an evening rehab session.)

Both coaches noted Murray's presence. While Petzing has studied Murray on tape, much of how the two work together can only be "based on our relationship," Petzing said.

Murray is talented, Petzing said, but "it's about the entire offense, and ultimately, the entire team."

There are challenges to Petzing's first season, with Murray sidelined through training camp and likely the start of the season after his ACL injury. But Petzing has been through something similar, having to juggle quarterbacks in Cleveland last season with Deshaun Watson's suspension and other injuries.

"You have to find a plan to make sure multiple people are ready to go," Petzing said. "That's the nature of the NFL business.

"The experience last year taught me a lot about how to do that."

Gannon said it was "great" for Murray to hear about how Petzing worked through the Browns situation. The head coach wasn't putting any timetable on Murray's return, but "he has been eager to attack his rehab the way he needs to attack it."

"He wanted to play me one-on-one today," Gannon said. "And I will beat him one-on-one."

Gannon also said backup Colt McCoy had a "minor procedure" after the season but didn't sound concerned. McCoy also challenged an incredulous Gannon, a prep hoops star, to one-on-one.

Murray's inability to be on the field figures to make the learning curve of a new playbook more steep, but Petzing is hoping Murray will at least take part in some walkthoughs.

"A lot of it will be more oriented to the classroom, whether it's quizzes or watching tape or asking questions," Petzing said. "He's been extremely engaged even in these couple days when we're not talking football. He's ready to go and champing at the bit. I fully trust him grasping the offense even though he's not getting physical reps."

Petzing, like defensive coordinator Nick Rallis the day before, did not get specific about offensive schemes. (Gannon in past interviews said he expected to mostly be in 11, 12, and 13 personnel.) Petzing said the offense will be ever-evolving, and at this point, he still needs to find out his personnel.

Murray's debut is in question. There is uncertainty if DeAndre Hopkins is traded. And four of the five starting offensive linemen are free agents.

As for Petzing's age – 35 – he shrugged it off as a major factor. Earning Murray's trust is the important thing, and Murray's production, as well as the offense's, is upon which Petzing will be judged.

"Experience is valuable no doubt about it," Petzing said. "But at the end of the day, I have to be good at my job. If I am good at it, my age doesn't matter. And if I'm bad at it, my age doesn't matter."