Cardinals OC Drew Petzing’s creativity on display in win over Cowboys

Sep 24, 2023, 6:53 PM | Updated: Sep 26, 2023, 10:13 am

GLENDALE — You would have thought Halloween came early with the amount of offensive tricks Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Drew Petzing had up his sleeve against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

That or maybe Christmas in September as the Cardinals turned in their first complete game of the Jonathan Gannon era for a 28-16 victory over the Cowboys.

Throughout Arizona’s first win under the new regime, Petzing showed off his creativity from a play-calling standpoint.

But above all else, he dialed up a game plan that pestered the Dallas defense on top of keeping the foot on the gas as Arizona put up 400 yards of total offense and scored on each of its first five possessions. That latter stat hadn’t been done since 2021 in a game former head coach and play caller Kliff Kingsbury was sidelined for due to COVID-19.

Those wrinkles paid dividends early and often, especially when looking at Rondale Moore’s line of work.

His receiving numbers didn’t jump off the page by any means — four catches for eight yards on six targets. His rushing numbers, though, are a different story.

Totaling 54 yards on three carries, the wideout did most of his damage on a single second-quarter carry.

Facing second and two near midfield, Petzing presented the Cowboys defense with a different look lining Moore up in the backfield before the wideout did the rest on the 45-yard touchdown run to push Arizona’s lead to 12.

“We did a really good job mixing up personnels and so we caught them communicating,” quarterback Joshua Dobbs said postgame. “When you catch them short on the box count with an explosive player back there, for me, it’s get the ball in his hands as quickly as possible.

“I was hoping he wouldn’t get caught by the linebacker, because he wouldn’t have lived that one down, but it was good to see him get in the end zone for us. That was a big, big possession for us.”

Petzing’s creativity got a mighty boost of publicity from the score, but it was far from the only change or tweak the offensive coordinator had in the victory.

Looking to find pay dirt midway through the fourth quarter, the Cardinals turned to old reliable in tight end Zach Ertz, albeit with a twist, deep in the red zone.

Instead of tossing one up in the end zone for Ertz to wrangle, Dobbs fired a quick shovel pass right at the line of scrimmage.

The five-yard play didn’t result in a touchdown, but it did set up Arizona for an easy two-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Hollywood Brown.

Shockingly enough, that would be one of Ertz’s only targets on the afternoon, another switch-up from what had been seen the past two weeks.

The veteran had just one more catch throughout the victory, recording two receptions for six yards. Entering the matchup, Ertz was first on the team in catches (12) and second in receiving yards (77).

With Dallas down star cornerback Trevon Diggs, it’s not surprising Arizona looked down the field more with Brown and rookie Michael Wilson, who may have had the biggest non-touchdown play of the game with a wide-open 69-yard catch in the fourth quarter. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how those targets divvy up next week on the road against another tough defense in the San Francisco 49ers.

But for all the positives Petzing and Co. saw on Sunday, one play in particular probably should be ripped out of the playbook altogether.

Diving back into their bag of tricks in the third quarter, Moore went into motion before getting the handoff from Dobbs. From there, the wideout pitched it back to Wilson, who in turn gave it back to Dobbs. The signal caller then went back to Moore on the pass attempt, but the speedster was instantly bottled up for a five-yard loss.

That one might need to be left on the cutting room floor next week.

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Western Governors University
Joshua Dobbs (Felisa Cárdenas/Arizona Sports) Jonathan Gannon (Felisa Cárdenas/Arizona Sports) Krys Barnes (51) tackles Dallas Cowboys running back Rico Dowdle. (Felisa Cárdenas/Arizona Sports) Marquise Brown (Felisa Cárdenas/Arizona Sports) Dante Stills (Felisa Cárdenas/Arizona Sports) James Conner (Felisa Cárdenas/Arizona Sports) Michael Wilson (Felisa Cárdenas/Arizona Sports) Matt Prater (Felisa Cárdenas/Arizona Sports) Rondale Moore (Felisa Cárdenas/Arizona Sports) Zaven Collins (Felisa Cárdenas/Arizona Sports)

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