When asked last week about the pending return of starting quarterback Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon was coy. The 26-year-old Murray, a two-time Pro Bowler, will be eligible to return next week. One would think that Gannon would be anxious to get the club's franchise signal-caller back, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
""We'll get him going when he is physically and mentally ready to play. And knowing it will take some time and some weeks of practice to get comfortable with what he is doing. I'm not in a hurry with that. I'd love to have him out there, he's itching to be back, but we'll take that one day at a time.""- Jonathan Gannon
Source: Gannon 'Not In A Hurry' To Rush Kyler Murray Back On Field by Darren Urban, AZCardinals.com
Of course, Gannon could simply be trying to keep Arizona's future opponents guessing. Competitive advantage, if you will. It's worth noting, however, that Gannon's ambiguous comments about Murray's return to action came before something very unexpected happened with the Cardinals.
This past Sunday, backup signal-caller Josh Dobbs led the Redbirds to a stunning, 28-16 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. The journeyman passer was outstanding, completing an eye-popping 81% of his throws for 189 yards and a touchdown. Dobbs also contributed 55 yards on the ground, showing the kind of mobility that has made Murray such a dangerous weapon.
If Gannon had questions about throwing Murray back into the lineup before, the coach's reservations about doing so may have likely grown. Dobbs struggled a bit in the season-opener, losing a pair of fumbles during a 20-16 loss to the Washington Commanders. But in the last two matchups, the 28-year-old has been absolutely magnificent.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Dobbs began to elevate his play during a Week 2 defeat
Things seem to come together for Dobbs in Week 2, during the Cards' heart-wrenching, 31-28 setback against the New York Giants. The 6 foot 3, 216 pounder completed 21 out of his 31 passes, for 228 yards and a score. Dobbs also rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown, and catapulted his body into the air to complete a two-point conversion attempt in the third quarter.
While it's somewhat crazy to think that Arizona would prefer to play Dobbs over Murray, it may not be as outlandish as you think. The organization pursued Dobbs back in March, but the veteran elected to sign with the Cleveland Browns. Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort revisited the idea again in August, and ultimately got his man by working out a trade with the Browns.
It was the familiarity that Dobbs had with Cards offensive coordinator Drew Petzing that made him so attractive to the organization. Murray, on the other hand, has been forced to learn a brand-new system from the sidelines. There will surely be growing pains when and if the former first-overall pick of the NFL Draft is inserted into the starting lineup.
What we have is an old-fashioned quarterback controversy brewing in the desert. Many fans believe that Murray will be leading the Arizona scoring attack when the squad hosts a struggling Cincinnati Bengals squad in Week 5. Don't be surprised if Dobbs, and the "Big Red" coaching staff for that matter, has other ideas.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)