What to do at QB for Arizona going into 2023? Well, that’s the question every new Head Coach getting interviewed is being asked right? But it doesn’t seem as transparent as we’d all like it to be. With the recent firing of Kliff Kingsbury, and Steve Keim “stepping away” from the team the Arizona Cardinals go into the 2023 off-season in full flux.
The Cardinals QB rotated between Kyler Murray, Colt McCoy, Trace McSorley, and David Blough all starting at some point in the season. The team also had Jarrett Guarantano, Carson Strong, and James Morgan on their roster at some point. The Arizona QB room totaled 3962 yards 663 attempts 17 TDs to 17 INTs enroute to 4-13 record. But the biggest question that the 2022 season left Cardinals fans is what is going on with Kyler Murray.
As we all know is that Kyler is dealing with a torn ACL and while some reports have stated that he could be back for week one, it doesn’t seem like that is the most realistic or the safest path for Murray or the Cardinals to take moving forward. It leaves the Cardinals in a bit of flux especially with uninspired QB play from Trace McSorley despite his athletic prowess and David Blough putting together what you’d expect from a QB4.
With the Cardinals in the hunt for a Head Coach the calls for Sean Payton have been loud and clear. Payton has stated he “loves” Murray and the Cardinals have been granted permission to interview him. So, in the land of hypotheticals if Payton does get what is the best plan of attack for him to “bridge the gap” until Kyler’s return.
Well, why not invite a couple old friends of Payton’s to help ease the pain of Kyler’s absence. Payton in 2019 and 2021, have utilized the services of two pending free agents Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston, both of whom thrusted into action and put together serviceable showcases. Jameis went 5-2 throwing for 1170 yards 14 TDs and 3 Ints in 2021 and Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 throwing for 1384 Yards 9 TDs and 2 INTs and Trevor Siemian threw for 1154 Yards 11 TDs and 3 Ints in four starts for Payton in a cluster of a 2021 final season. All three quarterbacks put together solid offensive outputs that were way above the production the Cardinals saw in 2022 and are set to be free agents.
So what to do with the current QB room?
This may be a bit controversial, but Blough did play well enough to earn another year in the league but could be the odd man out in 2023 for the Cardinals and may have find work elsewhere if Payton is the Head Coach. Payton coming into town means McSorley may have another year as the QB3 taking over as a Taysom Hill like player which makes sense regarding Payton’s career with a gadget QB.
The fear for the Cards then the QB2 is behind a Winston or Bridgewater as it’s been shown that McSorley cannot handle the load for a full game. Maybe that’s where a David Blough or Trevor Siemian can come in. As we stated Siemian did have success statistically when Jameis got knocked out and his one start in 2022 played half decent when dealing with an injury that landed him on IR for the Bears. By no means is Siemian a “sexy” option for the QB2/3 position but upon Kyler actually being healthy you could release him and bring him back on the Practice Squad and utilize the 3 elevations if Siemian is needed to come back if Kyler has snags on the road to recovery. Upon the return of Kyler, Jameis/Teddy goes back to Qb2 and McSorley remains a gadget player. Even bringing back Chris Streveler isn’t a crazy possibility as the want for a gadget QB especially with easing Kyler into the rushing attack needs to be managed strategically and McSorley or Streveler offer that option.
Now what if Kyler is healthy for Week 1
If Kyler’s healthy then as your franchise quarterback you’d have to expect him to start 16-17 games. If not, then the issues at QB are must larger than Payton’s ability to manage the situation for 2023 and concerns about durability of the diminutive Murray continue to echo in the media. You could bring back Blough as a QB2, but Winston would always be a safer bet. The key to this whole equation is Kyler’s health for 2023 and not “rushing” him back. If the Cards are competitive or the NFC west is less than stellar it could prompt Arizona to bring Kyler back a bit premature. Realistically if the Cards are 2-7 and the NFC West and a wild card spot is plus 4 games out the key is keeping Kyler healthy for 2024, and Cards fans should expect a revolving door at QB.
With a new regime inbound and Colt McCoy looking to retire it appears that 2023 is not a huge year for the franchise in transition but establishing a positive culture in Arizona. Payton’s experience in managing the Quarterback position and also mitigating injuries in 2019 and 2021 are exactly the type of leadership and direction the Cardinals need for 2023. Regardless of whoever is the Cardinals man for 2023 the position requires a lot of patience, and creativity to combat the Red Storm in 2023.
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