A dog can wait: Cardinals' Colt McCoy embraces return for 14th season

Quarterback Colt McCoy appears in line to start Week 1 if Kyler Murray isn't ready. AP Photo/Matt York

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Colt McCoy committed a cardinal sin as a dad.

He told his kids they could get a dog but there was one condition: They had to wait until the Arizona Cardinals' backup quarterback retires.

Ever since, his daughters have been drawing pictures of different dogs and leaving them on their dad’s sink and his oldest son, the third of four McCoy children, has been asking the same question on repeat.

“From the moment I've said that, my son, every day, is like, ‘So, are you going to retire or are you going to play?’” McCoy said. “I was like, ‘What do you want me to do?’ [He’s like] ‘Well, I want you to play.’ ‘Well, then we'll wait for a dog.’ [He’s like] ‘Ahh, I kinda want a dog.’ He goes back and forth. It's a funny joke at home.”

It’s safe to say the McCoys aren’t getting a dog any time soon. And it’s not because McCoy doesn’t believe his kids when they say they’ll clean up after it.

It’s because McCoy isn’t done playing.

As he spends the next few weeks ramping up toward his 14th NFL season, McCoy is fully leaning into the chance to continue playing under new coach Jonathan Gannon and offensive coordinator Drew Petzing.

“I think I told you guys last year, like, opportunities to play in this league don't grow on trees, and I understand the situation that we're in and I still want to play,” McCoy said. “I still feel confident that I can play and we're working really hard to learn this new system.”

The 36-year-old McCoy took some time this offseason to consider his playing future. Ultimately, thanks in part to a repaired elbow and a quick recovery from a concussion late last season, he decided to lace them up for his eighth head coach.

As of now, McCoy is in line to start Week 1 for the first time since 2011. With Kyler Murray’s status for the season still in limbo while he recovers from an ACL tear in his right knee, McCoy is expected to be the starter until Murray returns from surgery.

Even without a time frame for Murray’s 2023 debut, McCoy’s approach to this coming season hasn’t changed from years past: Stay ready.

To do that during an offseason of transition, McCoy has had to keep his head in the playbook.

“I think for me, my No. 1 priority is learning the system,” McCoy said. “It's new, it's different. There's things as a quarterback that you got to know that other people don't have to know and you, ultimately, with the ball in your hands, make everything right.”

Then he added: “I don't know if Kyler is gonna be healthy or not. I think we all certainly hope that he is, but if he's not, I’m 100 percent going to be ready to go.”

And his teammates are confident in that idea.

“Colt handles everything like Colt McCoy,” left tackle D.J. Humphries said. “Every time, no matter what situation that he's in, he's QB1ing and that's just who he [is]. That's his personality, you know what I mean?

McCoy has 36 starts in 56 career games, including three last season. He started twice when Murray was out with a hamstring injury in November, passing for 456 yards, a touchdown and an interception during those games when the Cardinals went 1-1. He was then thrust into the starting role again after Murray suffered the season-ending injury in Week 14. That lasted a little more than a half, though. McCoy left the next game, Week 15 in Denver, 70 seconds into the third quarter after suffering a concussion. He didn’t play the rest of the season.

How long he plays this year is still to be determined but his experience was a benefit to Gannon during OTAs and minicamp.

“I learn a lot from Colt,” Gannon said. “Anytime you have an experienced quarterback that's played at a high level for that long, as a defensive guy, I'm constantly in his ear asking him things and I value that relationship.”

Wide receiver Marquise Brown summed it up succinctly: “He’s like a coach out there.”

The wait for the McCoy family dog continues for now, but it’s not easy. The questions will continue.

Which dog will the McCoys get when it’s time?

“I grew up with Labs,” McCoy said. “I love Labs.”