Cardinals roster questions, wild cards: Does QB Clayton Tune have shot to start?
Jul 10, 2023, 9:20 AM | Updated: Jul 14, 2023, 5:09 pm
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
The Arizona Cardinals look a whole lot different than they did this time a year ago.
And with a reset in culture, coaching staff and front office comes a reset in the roster.
Each position group has undergone change this offseason, from quarterback to special teams specialists.
There’s still plenty of time for personnel tweaks between now and training camp next month. But until then, let’s take a deeper dive into how the Cardinals’ roster is currently constructed.
First up, a quarterbacks position group featuring a crop of veterans and a young gun who could end up getting more run than we all think.
The Arizona Cardinals’ big roster questions: QB
1. When will Kyler Murray make his return?
Easily the biggest unknown in the room is when exactly Kyler Murray will return to the field as Arizona’s starting QB.
Still on the mend from a torn ACL in Week 14 of last season, the signal caller has been hard at work throughout the offseason. He’s been a constant presence at Arizona’s training facility and seems much more engaged with Jonathan Gannon’s coaching staff than what we saw last year under former head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Getting back to full strength isn’t the only thing on his mind, either, as he regularly chatted with offensive coordinator Drew Petzing and was a constant observer of his teammates during organized team activities and mandatory minicamp.
But for all the good we’re seeing out of the signal caller, the unknown of his return still lingers.
Gannon and first-year general manager Monti Ossenfort have remained tight-lipped on any sort of timeline on the signal caller outside of that he’s making progress.
Gannon has said numerous times that when Murray is “physically and mentally ready,” he’ll be back on the field.
When that is, though, is anyone’s guess.
2. Who the heck is going to start?
Let’s get this out of the way right now: It’s not going to be Murray.
There will be no rushing the signal caller’s injury return in what is expected to be a down season in the win-loss column.
That leaves Colt McCoy, David Blough, Jeff Driskel and rookie Clayton Tune as the four options to start the season opener against the Washington Commanders.
The obvious answer to the starter question at this point in time is McCoy.
A trusted voice within the organization, McCoy continues to be a leader on and off the field for rookies and veterans alike.
He’s also got experience as a starter in the desert, posting a 3-3 record over the past two seasons.
Blough and Driskel also bring some experience to the mix, with the former starting two games for the Cardinals last season and the latter posting 11 starts over his five-year career.
But while Driskel has had more time on task throughout his career (23 games compared to nine), Blough appeared to have the upper hand over his fellow quarterback before an injury sidelined him for the last part of minicamp.
And with how things are shaping up, the two could very realistically be playing for one spot on the active roster.
The wild Card
McCoy may be the clear choice to begin the season under center, but there’s another intriguing option for Gannon and the rest of the Cardinals could consider.
He goes by the name of Tune.
All signs point to McCoy getting the keys to the offense to start, but there’s a real possibility Tune is given a chance to run the offense.
It just all comes down to when he might be ready to take the reins.
“I would say I’m progressing pretty well,” Tune said during minicamp. “It’s just slow and steady each day, focusing on one thing and making sure each day that I’ve improved on that one thing that I set before practice.”
“I’m just here to do my job. If I get an opportunity, I’m going to go in and make the most of it,” he added.
The 2023 fifth-rounder is unlike his counterparts in that he presents a much more mobile option for Petzing to work with.
And with an offense that is going to be tailored around the elusive Murray, dropping in a quarterback that can run will give the OC a better look at how things might go when the franchise signal caller returns.
While Tune racked up 4,074 yards and 40 touchdowns on 67.3% passing as a senior at Houston, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder also showed off his ability as a runner behind 128 carries for 544 yards and five scores. In comparison, McCoy has rushed for 582 yards and two touchdowns on 175 carries across 12 NFL seasons.
Arizona must utilize Murray’s ability as a runner. It’s part of what makes him who he is. Giving Tune a look can help see what works and what doesn’t offensively while also allowing Petzing to experiment more with the rookie on the ground.