The Cardinals are moving quickly to fill their coordinator positions. Shortly after he reported that Arizona was hiring 29-year-old Nick Rallis as its new DC, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network says that the club is hiring Browns quarterbacks coach Drew Petzing as its new OC (Twitter link).
Petzing, 35, landed his first NFL position when he became a football operations intern for Cleveland in 2013. Like Rallis and Gannon, Petzing spent a number of years working under former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer in Minnesota, serving on the Vikings’ offensive staff from 2014-2019 (Gannon was the Vikes’ assistant DBs coach from 2014-17, and Rallis was on the club’s defensive staff from 2018-20).
In 2020, Petzing returned to the Browns as the team’s tight ends coach, and he moved to the quarterbacks room last year, working with Jacoby Brissett and Deshaun Watson. Watson served an 11-game suspension to start the 2022 campaign, and when he returned to the field, he was clearly rusty. In six games, he compiled a 3-3 record, completed a meager 58.2% of his passes, and threw seven TDs against five interceptions. That amounted to a poor quarterback rating and QBR of 79.1 and 38.3, respectively.
On the other hand, Brissett delivered a solid performance as Watson’s placeholder for the first 11 games of the season, and it is clear that both Zimmer and Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski saw Petzing as a valuable offensive mind worth retaining. Of course, the relative youth and inexperience of Gannon, 40, and his new coordinators will be a major talking point in the desert, though Gannon has been quick to downplay the significance of such matters.
Noting that the Eagles enjoyed success with an inexperienced trio of Nick Sirianni at head coach, Shane Steichen at offensive coordinator, and himself at defensive coordinator, Gannon said, “You never really know until you do the job. Experience, yes, it’s a good thing, but if you’re convicted on somebody, you roll the dice and that’s what you go with” (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, who adds that Gannon and Petzing developed a strong friendship and working relationship during their time in Minnesota).
“We (the Eagles) had the youngest staff in the NFL,” Gannon added. “You need to hire the right people, not necessarily their resume. It’s what’s the right fit.”
Though Petzing will be calling offensive plays for the first time in his career, his most important duty will be getting quarterback Kyler Murray to return to form (when he is cleared to play, that is). After earning Pro Bowl acclaim in the 2020-21 campaigns, Murray regressed in all major passing categories last year, and he suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in December. That injury could keep him on the shelf until the halfway point of the 2023 season. Arizona might also part ways with star wideout DeAndre Hopkins in the coming months, adding another challenge for Petzing & Co. to overcome.
The Browns, meanwhile, could turn to receivers coach/passing game coordinator Chad O’Shea or tight ends coach T.C. McCartney to replace Petzing, as Cabot notes. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic suggests that Cleveland could also consider Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban, who may be allowed to make a lateral move to a different organization since Baltimore has a new OC in Todd Monken on the staff (Twitter links).