For the past eight weeks, the Arizona Cardinals offense has had to proceed without a first-rate option at quarterback. The organization got what it could out of journeyman Josh Dobbs, and then traded the 28-year old signal-caller to the Minnesota Vikings. With starter Kyler Murray now healthy, the services of Dobbs were no longer going to be needed.
Watching Dobbs struggle during the past four games tested the patience of Arizona fans. Things got so bad that even Murray's detractors were clamoring for him to return. The two-time Pro Bowler has reportedly looked great in practice, but the Cardinals have continued to keep Murray tucked safely away in bubble wrap.
Murray's absence is not the only thing that has impeded the progress of the Redbirds newly-implemented scoring attack. Running back James Conner, another two-time Pro Bowler, has also been stuck on the sidelines in street clothes. The 6 foot 1, 233 pounder hurt his knee during a Week 5 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, and has not played since.
First-year offensive coordinator Drew Petzing has surely missed Conner, the highly productive ball-carrier who flocked to the desert back in 2021. In his five starts this fall, the 28-year-old battering ram racked up 364 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and was averaging a robust 5.4 yards per carry for the Cards. Petzing's system revolves around a solid running game that has been a lot less effective without Conner on the injured-reserve list.
Arizona Cardinals offense should look much more formidable when they meet the Atlanta Falcons in Week 10
A tentative plan is in place for both Murray and Conner to be back with their teammates when Arizona takes on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 10. Actually, the team's hierarchy may have picked the perfect opponent for such an event. Despite possessing a respectable 4-4 record, the talent-level on the Falcons roster is really nothing for the Cardinals to be concerned about.
The matchup with Atlanta could be the first time this season that Las Vegas oddsmakers could look at the Cards as a favorite. In spite of denials by the Falcons coaching staff, second-year passer Desmond Ridder has been benched after an uneven eight starts in 2023. Taylor Heinicke, Ridder's replacement, is a journeyman who could struggle versus an aggressive Arizona pass rush on November 12th.
If you listen to the scuttlebutt, it appears that rookie Clayton Tune will be under center this coming Sunday when the Cards pay a visit to the Cleveland Browns. The odds that "Big Red" will emerge victorious with the 24-year-old Tune leading the charge are slim. A completely inexperienced youngster going up against the league's number-one defense in his first professional start has disaster written all over it.
While this coming weekend's clash with the Browns could also end in disappointment, most observers would agree that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Murray and Conner will soon be back on the playing field. Cardinals enthusiasts are counting the minutes until that highly-anticipated day arrives.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)