TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals won’t have an ideal quarterback situation next season.
That’s a big reason why Drew Petzing was hired.
New Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon has asked Petzing to lead an offense that will eventually be built around franchise quarterback Kyler Murray. The problem is Murray is recovering from tearing the ACL in his right knee and probably won’t be available for at least the first few weeks next season.
This is the first offensive coordinator job for the 35-year-old Petzing.
“It creates some unique challenges, but that’s the nature of this league,” Petzing said. “No matter what year you’re going into, there’s going to be something you have to handle and deal with, so it’s something we’ll work to as a staff.”
Petzing spent the past three seasons with the Cleveland Browns and was the quarterbacks coach last season. It wasn’t an easy season: Backup Jacoby Brissett played the first 11 games before Deshaun Watson came back from his suspension.
Even so, the Browns quarterbacks were solid. Brissett started 11 games and threw for 2,608 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. His 63.9 percent completion rate and 88.9 passer rating were both career highs.
Watson started the final six games of the season and threw for 1,102 yards, seven TDs and five interceptions. The Browns finished with a 7-10 record and didn’t make the playoffs, but Gannon was impressed that the team maintained solid offensive production.
“Absolutely,” Gannon said. “We definitely talked about that and the process that was put in place in Cleveland.
“Arizona is different, but it was a good little bit of a blueprint to say ‘Hey, this is what we did with our guys in Cleveland and this is how we can proceed with Kyler.”
Petzing has a wide variety of experience on the offensive side of the ball, also coaching tight ends with the Browns and receivers for the Vikings. Gannon and Petzing worked together in Minnesota and would often discuss what they’d do if they ever got the chance to run a team together.
A few years later, the opportunity is here.
“A big part of our vision is adapting to the players on the field,” Petzing said. “Making sure we’re doing things to put them in position to be successful, to do things that tailor to their strengths, and to make it hard for the defenses we’re playing.”
Petzing has several offensive issues to deal with over the next several months. The Cardinals have to decide if they’re bringing back three-time All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who is under contract for two more seasons but could be moved to another team.
There will also be substantial turnover on the offensive line.
But there’s little doubt that the No. 1 issue is Murray’s knee injury and his recovery. Even though he’s had ups and downs during his four seasons in the NFL, Murray is still just 25 years old and is already a two-time Pro Bowl selection.
“He’s a really talented player,” Petzing said. “That was one of the appealing things about this job to me, being able to work with a quarterback of his caliber. But it’s about the entire offense and ultimately the entire team.”
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