Why Colt McCoy is starting for the Cardinals instead of Kyler Murray on ‘Monday Night Football’

By | November 21, 2022

For the second week in a row, the Arizona Cardinals will be without their No. 1 quarterback, as Kyler Murray will miss “Monday Night Football” in Mexico City against the 49ers with a hamstring injury.

The injury means Colt McCoy will start once again after leading the Cardinals to a win over the Rams last week, in which he threw for 238 yards and a touchdown. Ian Rapoport reported Monday morning Murray wouldn’t play, and the Cardinals confirmed it with their inactive list ahead of the game.

A veteran, McCoy is no stranger to being thrust in in a pinch. This marks the fifth straight season he’s started at least as a backup and the second straight season he’s started at least two for the Cardinals (he went 2-1 as a backup starter last season).

McCoy, 36, also dealt with a knee injury earlier in the week but he did not appear on the team’s final injury report.

MORE: Live score, updates & highlights from 49ers vs. Cardinals in Mexico City

Why is Colt McCoy starting for the Cardinals?

McCoy has been a serviceable backup for the Cardinals when Murray has been injured in recent seasons. Last week, the offense didn’t look overwhelming, but it did look efficient in the Cardinals’ 27-17 win over Los Angeles. 

With that in mind, the Cardinals will ride him against one of the top defenses in the NFL in the 49ers in the lofty altitude of Mexico City. 

Although the spot is Murray’s when he’s healthy — McCoy isn’t getting paid $46.1 million per season, after all — the Cardinals have shown confidence going to McCoy when it is necessary.

Player Comp. % Passing yards TDs INTs Rating Sacks
Colt McCoy 62.8% 140.2 0.6 0.5 80.8 1.9
Kyler Murray 66.8 248.1 1.5 0.7 92.8 2.4

As should be abundantly clear, it isn’t simply his contract that is keeping Murray on the field. He’s also by far the best performer on the Cardinals roster. Despite McCoy’s excellent game last week, it’s just incredibly difficult to replicate what Murray does on a week-to-week basis.

MORE: Where is the NFL Mexico game being played? What to know about Azteca Stadium

Kyler Murray injury update

Murray is continuing to deal with a hamstring injury sustained against the Seahawks.

The injury sidelined Murray last week against the Rams, and he has been limited in practice since Thursday. He was questionable on the final injury report, but ultimately the Cardinals didn’t feel comfortable playing him against the formidable 49ers defense.

Cardinals QB depth chart

1. Kyler Murray

Regardless of status, Murray is QB1. The Cardinals locked him up to a massive contract ahead of the season, and he’s their guy until further notice.

Murray’s dual-threat ability makes him one of the tougher quarterbacks to defend in the NFL, but that hasn’t translated to success for the Cardinals. They’re 4-6 on the season, 3-6 with Murray at the helm, and they haven’t kept up in the NFC West.

2. Colt McCoy

McCoy is a career backup, but don’t call him a journeyman. he’s been in four different cities, and he’s been seemingly loved in each one. From the Browns to the Commanders to the Cardinals (with a brief Giants pit stop in between), McCoy has been 4-2 over the past three seasons when called upon to start.

While that may not seem like much, spot-filling in the NFL is exceptionally difficult, so having a quarterback who is able to do so is valuable for the Cardinals to have on their roster.

MORE: Why is 49ers vs. Cardinals in Mexico City?

3. Trace McSorley

Yes, there is a third quarterback on the Arizona roster. Trace McSorley was “the guy” at Penn State before being picked up by the Ravens in 2019. He spent three years on the Baltimore roster before moving on.

After not seeing the field in 2021, the Cardinals picked up McSorley this offseason. He will act as the backup Monday with Murray out, so if McCoy goes down, McSorley will in fact see the field for Arizona.