Who Will Be the Arizona Cardinals’ Starting QB in 2023?

The Cardinals cut Colt McCoy and will keep Kyler Murray on the PUP list. Who will be Arizona's starting QB in Week 1?

The Arizona Cardinals made two significant quarterback decisions on Monday that will affect who is under center in Week 1.

Kyler Murray, still recovering from his late-season ACL tear, will remain on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list into the regular season, which means he’ll have to miss at least the first four games. An extended absence had always been likely once Murray went down in December.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals also announced that they’ve released veteran quarterback Colt McCoy, who looked like the favorite to fill in for Murray while he works his way back to the field.

With McCoy gone, who will start for Arizona in 2023?

Josh Dobbs Likely to Start for Arizona Cardinals

Now that Murray and McCoy are unavailable, the Cardinals have two options at quarterback: recent trade acquisition Josh Dobbs or fifth-round rookie Clayton Tune. Arizona picked up Dobbs from the Browns last week, sending a 2024 fifth-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Dobbs and a 2024 seventh.

He worked with current Cardinals offensive coordinator Drew Petzing when the latter was Cleveland’s quarterbacks coach in 2022, so he should be familiar with Arizona’s new offensive scheme.

That comfort with Petzing’s terminology should make him the favorite to start when the Cardinals face the Commanders in Week 1. Indeed, ESPN’s Adam Schefter identified Dobbs as Arizona’s most likely starter following McCoy’s release.

Starting an NFL game on extremely short notice would be nothing new for Dobbs. Last December, he started for the Titans just eight days after Tennessee signed him off Detroit’s practice squad.

He completed 20 of 39 attempts for 232 yards, one touchdown, and one interception and also started the Titans’ season finale the following week.

The Cardinals could also choose to roll with Tune, who has mostly worked with the second-team offense this summer but has received looks with the starters.

Tune posted video game-like numbers in college while starring in Houston‘s Air Raid offense. Over his last two seasons with the Cougars, Tune put up more than 7,500 yards through the air while tossing 70 touchdowns against 20 interceptions. He also handled 233 rushing attempts from 2021-22.

Over three preseason games, Tune took 70 dropbacks while completing 57.6% of his passes for 353 yards, one touchdown, and one pick.

In Arizona’s final exhibition game, Tune was up and down against the Vikings. He led a field goal drive but also absorbed a blindside hit on the Cardinals’ opening drive, leading to a fumble inside Arizona’s 5-yard line.

Tune has certainly flashed during the preseason, but the leap from orchestrating an Air Raid offense to diagnosing NFL defenses pre-snap and reacting post-snap is massive. He could probably use more development time before being thrust into a starting role.

For the Cardinals, the starting quarterback decision doesn’t exactly have much riding on it. Arizona might not admit they’re tanking in 2023, but they’re the odds-on favorite to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

MORE: Predicting the 32 Most Surprising NFL Roster Cuts

The Cards also own the Texans’ first-round pick in next year’s draft — if Houston struggles, Arizona might hold the first two selections next spring.

Dobbs remains the favorite to start in Week 1, but Tune will likely receive opportunities down the stretch, especially if the Cardinals decide to shut Murray down later in the season.

For his part, head coach Jonathan Gannon told reporters he doesn’t plan to name a starting quarterback, with the goal of maintaining a “competitive advantage” against Washington in Week 1.

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