The 2023 NFL campaign has been an awful one for the Arizona Cardinals. There's not much to be happy about when a squad has won just once in nine attempts. Sure, the Redbirds could be sitting in a much more enviable position a year from now, but that doesn't make what's going on at the present time any easier to digest.
Thankfully, this dreadful season is about to get much more entertaining. For the first time in 11 months, star quarterback Kyler Murray will be under center (literally at times) when the Cards play host to the Atlanta Falcons this coming weekend. The two-time Pro Bowler tore his ACL in December of 2022, and has helplessly stood by as his teammates participated in a brand-new offensive attack without him.
It's been hard to judge Drew Petzing in his first year as Arizona's offensive coordinator. For the first eight games, the 36-year-old assistant had to make do with Josh Dobbs, a journeyman signal-caller who didn't even join the organization until late August. Dobbs was then traded following a hot and cold stint with the team, and Petzing was forced to dial something up for a completely overmatched rookie named Clayton Tune in Week 9.
Murray's getting back on the playing field isn't the only good news surrounding the Cardinals franchise in Week 10. According to reports, running back James Conner will more than likely be activated for Sunday's clash with Atlanta. The offense's emotional leader and battering ram missed the previous four matchups with a bad knee, and his return will provide a tremendous lift for the entire team.
Arizona Cardinals could show significant improvement on offense during the season's final eight matchups
Rookie wide receiver Michael Wilson could also be back against the Falcons after a shoulder injury sidelined him last week. It will be interesting to see if the 23-year-old will succeed in developing a chemistry with Murray during the last eight games. Another youngster, tight end Trey McBride, will also continue in his attempts to build a rapport with the 26-year-old Murray.
The real offensive fireworks could come from Marquise Brown, the fifth-year wideout who'll be a free agent in 2024. Cards fans are well aware of the relationship that "Hollywood" has with Murray, his former University of Oklahoma teammate. It would not be surprising in the least if Murray throws a ton of passes in the direction of his contract-seeking buddy over the next two months.
Rondale Moore, another Arizona pass-catcher, could be extremely effective when utilized in the correct way. There's also Zach Ertz, the three-time Pro Bowl tight end who's currently shelved with a strained quadriceps muscle. The 33-year-old suffered from a case of the "dropsies" before the injury, but a strong finish for Ertz is entirely possible now that Murray is back in the saddle.
The one drawback for Petzing's unit at the present time is the Cardinals' banged-up offensive line. At the time of this writing, both left tackle D.J. Humphries and right guard Will Hernandez are highly-questionable for the meeting with Atlanta. With left guard Elijah Wilkinson already on injured-reserve, "Big Red" could be heading into this weekend's battle with just two of the unit's original starters in the lineup.
Even so, the excitement surrounding the Cards this week is has put a charge into the action-starved fanbase. Those of us who put our heart and soul into the club each and every Sunday need something to believe in. A well-armed Arizona scoring attack is now in place to generate some interest in the current campaign, and perhaps provide much-needed hope for the future as well.