Cardinals QB Chris Streveler takes unique journey, fighting for unique role
Might the Arizona Cardinals take three quarterbacks into the 2020 regular season?
Kyler Murray is the future, and Brett Hundley is a valued backup with proven success running the offense. And there appears to be deep commitment by the Cardinals to see if third-string quarterback Chris Streveler can make the roster as a gadget quarterback in special packages.
“Very athletic, tough. He’s all about football and he has great energy each and every day,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He’s (a) smart, smart kid. Between all those things, he won up there in Canada so he knows how to do that.
“He attacks it each and every day … that makes it fun for a coach.”
Here are five items of note to get to know the Cardinals’ February signee who has taken a unique path before earning a shot to make an NFL roster.
Finding his unique role
Over two years playing Big Ten football at Minnesota, Streveler threw only 40 passes. A transfer to Missouri Valley Football Conference team South Dakota unlocked his potential.
His senior year in 2017, Streveler amassed 4,134 passing yards and 4,854 yards of total offense. He was responsible for 43 touchdowns – 32 passing and 11 rushing.
Afterward, the CFL came calling, but Streveler needed a little luck to begin catching NFL team’s eyes.
As a rookie in 2018, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ veteran backup retired. Streveler won that job but after starter Matt Nichols got hurt just as the season began, and he was thrust in as the starter while adjusting to the Canadian style, with its 12 men and constant pre-snap motions. He did well enough. The Blue Bombers kept him in the gameplan when Nichols returned.
As the quarterback of the “wedge package,” the Blue Bombers used him as an athletic rushing threat on second- or third-and-short plays.
Midway through his second year, he got another chance to start when Nichols got hurt again. And though Streveler himself got hurt at the end of the regular season, he’d put NFL teams on notice.
“I’m not really sure of where the NFL interest came into play because for me it was always, you know, I was so focused in what I had to do up there and just being locked in and winning a championship was my goal,” Streveler said Friday. “I wasn’t focused on making it to the NFL or anything like that.
“Heading into the playoffs, I heard from my agent there were some teams that were interested.”
Grey Cup history
In 2019, Streveler completed 66% of his 234 passes for 1,564 yards, eight scores and 14 picks.
He added 726 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 5.7 yards per carry.
Here is where Streveler’s athleticism could get interesting for a creative mind like Kingsbury: In the 107th Grey Cup, the CFL’s championship, the backup quarterback threw a touchdown pass, caught a touchdown pass and rushed for 30 yards.
The Blue Bombers won their first title in 29 years. And then Streveler wore this:
View this post on Instagram
“That is definitely not typical,” he said Friday. “That is post-Grey Cup type parade situation.”
Adapting to change
Streveler said he won’t have as much of an issue learning the NFL game compared to making the leap from FCS college football to the CFL.
As for his adapting to the weather, name a more stark change in living situations than moving from Winnipeg to the Phoenix area.
“I grew up in the Midwest — I grew up in Chicago, went to Minnesota, went to South Dakota, then Winnipeg, so the cold weather is nothing new to me. But I’ll tell you what, that cold weather in Winnipeg, it hits different,” Streveler said. “It is so cold up there, it’s snowy, it’s negative degrees all through the playoffs.
“When I ended up signing here, I moved out here kind of the middle of March. I think coming out here a couple months has gotten me more acclimated to the heat.”
Streveler has used his time in Winnipeg to bond with the Texas-born Kingsbury, whose playing career ended in the Canadian cold on a less positive note.
“I think I blacked that whole era of my life out,” Kingsbury said last year. “I retired immediately after my season there. I’ve never been that cold in my life. Great people, great football organization, and people were passionate about it, but I probably won’t be making any return trips.”
One thing Kingsbury did not black out: They both had the same favorite happy hour and sushi spot called Earl’s.
Putting in the work
Streveler put in the time to learn his new teammates before training camp officially began.
The quarterback was throwing often with the trio of Chase Edmonds, Trent Sherfield and Christian Kirk after arriving in Arizona. When he visited Minnesota, he got time in with Larry Fitzgerald this summer as well.
“Cool guy, I love Chris. Cool guy, calm, laid back, one of the bros. And he works his ass off,” Edmonds said. “He embraces that doing whatever it takes to make the team.”
Making the 53-man roster
Streveler would have to put together an unworldly performance in camp to unseat Hundley as Arizona’s backup quarterback. He will likely need to pull weight on special teams or be used in unique packages to be kept around as a quarterback.
How exactly that would look remains unclear.
However, he said the Cardinals and Kingsbury have not talked to him about changing positions. They continue to get looks at him playing special teams as well as quarterback.
“He’s a heck of an athlete, he’s a good leader,” special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers said this week. “He’s picked up on stuff quick — quarterbacks by nature are pretty smart people. It’s not figuring the stuff out, it’s just how many times has he used his hands to block somebody and how many times has he tackled people? It’s all new.”
Streveler’s attention is on whether he’ll make the roster. He is happy to soak in every physical and mental reps alongside Murray, Kingsbury and the special teams units. But he wants to make it.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes,” he said.