How open will Arizona Cardinals be to using Kyler Murray as a runner?
Nov 7, 2023, 2:48 PM | Updated: Nov 9, 2023, 11:54 am
TEMPE — The expected return of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray in Week 10 is a big positive for the signal caller and franchise as the team looks to get back into the win column.
With it, however, comes a handful of question marks, especially when it comes to Murray’s eagerness for running the rock nearly 11 months removed from tearing his ACL last December.
In the eyes of offensive coordinator Drew Petzing, the answer at least to that question is simple.
“If he’s healthy and ready to go, we’re going to put him in the best position to be successful,” the OC said Tuesday. “I think that’s always the nature when you have a franchise quarterback and you see that around the league. When they are very mobile, there’s an injury risk that’s associated with that.
“We have to manage that as all teams with elite quarterbacks have to do, but he’s going to put us in the best position to win the game.”
As we’ve all seen throughout the season, the added wrinkle of quarterbacks tucking and running can go a long way in the overall success of the offense.
Twice this year, a Cardinals quarterback has paced the run game. Most other times, they’ve still remained an important piece to the operation.
Just take a look at former Cardinals QB Joshua Dobbs during his time in the desert.
In eight starts, Dobbs totaled 47 rushing attempts for 258 yards and three touchdowns. That’s nearly six carries a game.
Even in Clayton Tune’s NFL debut against a stout Cleveland Browns defense, he ran it five times for 28 yards, though much of that was scrambling.
We’ve already seen Petzing experiment with QB-designed runs this season and find success. That should only increase with Murray — who brings a high level of talent to the ground game — despite coming off a severe knee injury. So should the overall communication from Petzing to his QB and vice versa.
“We’re not going to put him out there until he feels completely comfortable,” Petzing said. “Certainly health-wise he’s there, but there’s a mental aspect of that and that’s the communication piece that’s so important from him to us and back and forth.”
As for whether or not Petzing will be holding his breath the first time Murray gets tackled in 2023?
“Any time he runs and gets tackled no matter what the situation from now until the end of time, I think there’s always going to be like, ‘Hey, get up. He’s good,'” Petzing added.
“I think anytime you have a great player in that position you feel that way to some extent, but no, he’s so dynamic at it, he’s certainly done it at a high level and he’s going to get tackled. That’s a fact.”
What about Kyler Murray under center?
Another big Murray question has centered around Arizona’s implementation of a much more traditional NFL offense than what the QB has operated in since his arrival in 2019.
Among the biggest changes to the offense is the added work from under center, something that wasn’t called for often in Kliff Kingsbury’s air raid scheme.
But just because Murray hadn’t seen more than 56 snaps from under center in a given NFL season, doesn’t mean he can’t run the offense the way Petzing envisions.
“He’s been in the shotgun, but I wouldn’t say under center isn’t a strength of his,” Petzing said. “He was in an offense that didn’t put him under center by nature of the scheme, but I don’t think it was any limitation to his ability. … He could be under center the first snap of the game and I wouldn’t hesitate.”