TEMPE, Ariz. — Drew Petzing knew it was coming.
It took all of two questions into Thursday’s news conference introducing him as the Arizona Cardinals’ new offensive coordinator for Petzing to be asked about quarterback Kyler Murray.
“It’s going to be a hot topic I hear,” Petzing said.
Petzing learned quickly that Murray will be the centerpiece of his job. His interview with new head coach Jonathan Gannon was focused largely on Murray.
“I structured everybody that I interviewed around Kyler,” Gannon said. “The questions I was asking about how, philosophically, we’re going to play on offense, what I think is really hard for defenses moving forward into 2023 and beyond, a lot of those had to do with Kyler.
“And ultimately, in my opinion, that’s one of the No. 1 job of the offensive coordinator is to maximize the skill set of the quarterback and the other positions, as well. But we know that’s the position that makes it go. So, that was very centric around all the interviews and I liked his answer.”
Petzing was ready.
When Petzing, who was quarterbacks coach last season for the Cleveland Browns, received a call shortly after the Super Bowl that he might be interviewed for the job, the first thing he did was watch tape on Murray and make calls to some of Murray’s former coaches and teammates. Petzing’s takeaway?
“That was one of the appealing things about this job to me was being able to work with a quarterback of his caliber,” Petzing said.
Once Petzing got to Arizona this week and met Murray, who is rehabbing from a torn ACL to his right knee that forced him to miss six games in 2022, he talked to the quarterback quite a bit. Petzing said Murray was “extremely engaged” in their conversations, which haven’t revolved around football, Petzing said.
“He’s been great,” Petzing said. “I think he’s really attacking the rehab. Really excited about what we got going on, so it’s been great to get to know him and I look forward to that continuing these next couple of days.”
Gannon said Murray was “right on schedule” with his rehab.
Petzing, a first-time offensive coordinator, wouldn’t reveal what his scheme will look like but said whatever his offense ends up being, it’ll start with his quarterback — just, as he pointed out, it does with every NFL team . Petzing said he has an idea of what his offense will look like but added it will be an “ever-evolving process.”
However, Petzing did say he will lean into Murray’s running ability (he averaged 6.2 yards per rush in 2022) whenever the fifth-year quarterback is fully healthy. Petzing said it’s no secret that Murray’s ability to run makes him “really dangerous to defend.”
“I think one of the things you hear us talk about is how we make things hard on the defence. And anytime you can utilize something that a player does well or above average like he does, um, it’s going to create that indecision of, ‘Hey, can I really call that defense? Can I take that chance knowing that if I miss it could be a big play?’” Petzing said. “So, certainly want to continue to see that be a big part of his game.”
Even though Murray likely won’t be on the practice field in a full capacity this offseason, Petzing said Murray will get a crash course in the new offense in the meeting room and through walk-throughs. There will be quizzes and film work to help keep Murray up to speed on the scheme, Petzing said.
Gannon plans on having all of the position meeting rooms be “very interactive” by putting players on “hot spots.” He doesn’t want them just regurgitating what they hear — he said he wants them to fully understand it.
“The meeting room, for us, will be a full-time job,” Gannon said. “So, even though he’s not on the field, he will be getting stressed out mentally, I know that.”
Petzing still expects Murray to be ready to play when healthy.
“I fully trust him to be able to grasp and understand the offense even though he’s not going to get the physical reps during training camp,” Petzing said.
With his relationship with Murray in its infancy, Petzing wants Murray to understand he has his best interest and that they share the same goals — and that Petzing will do what he can to help Murray reach those goals.
“And then it’s a personal relationship,” Petzing said, “where you genuinely care about the person outside of football and you take an interest in who they are and what they’re about and what they care about, and that they know and feel that, and that it’s genuine.
“I think that’s a really big piece of it.”
Gannon understands that it’ll take time for Petzing and Murray to get on that level together. Both Gannon and Petzing quickly noticed how much winning matters to him.
“He’s the franchise quarterback for a reason,” Gannon said. “He’s committed to doing his job so he does what he needs to do to put this team in a position to win and, ultimately, that’s what I’ve really noticed about him through a week-and-a-half now.
“But what keeps oozing through this guy is his competitiveness and that’s a different form of competing what he’s doing right now. Certain guys have been there, certain haven’t, but it’s a hard road and you have to have the right mindset to do that.
“And that’s what I’ve been impressed with so far is just the competitiveness he has in him, talking a little bit of football with him, the competitiveness he has, like, ‘We need to get this right because we need to do this to win.’ That’s what I like to hear from your quarterback.”