Cardinals’ Murray to make season debut vs. Atlanta

Barring a setback at practice this week, Arizona plans to start quarterback Kyler Murray in Sunday’s home game vs. Atlanta, head coach Jonathan Gannon said Monday.

Meanwhile, Atlanta (4-5 straight up, 2-7 against the spread) head coach Arthur Smith announced this morning that Taylor Heinicke will make his second straight start for the Falcons.

Arizona gave rookie QB Clayton Tune his first career NFL start this past week, and it didn’t go well for the University of Houston product. The Cardinals generated only seven first downs and merely 58 yards of total offense in a 27-0 loss at Cleveland as 13-point road underdogs.

Tune was sacked seven times, threw a pair of interceptions and lost one fumble. He completed 11-of-20 throws for 58 yards.

Murray tore the ACL in his right knee in Week 14 last season. Arizona’s plan is to activate Murray to the 53-man roster on Wednesday, which is the final day of his window to be promoted after coming off the PUP list.

In 2022, Murray completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 2,368 yards with a 14/7 touchdown-interception ratio in 11 games. He also had 418 rushing yards, three TDs and a 6.2 yards-per-carry average.

In 57 career regular-season games, Murray has connected on 66.8 percent of his throws for 13,848 yards with an 84/41 TD-INT ratio. He also has 2,204 career rushing yards, 23 TDs and a 5.8 YPC average.

As of early Monday evening, most books had Atlanta at Arizona (1-8 SU, 4-4-1 ATS) as a pick ’em with a total of 43 points.

The Falcons have lost back-to-back games at Tennessee (28-23) and vs. Minnesota (31-28), and they’re mired in a 1-3 slump both SU and ATS. When Arthur Smith’s team went to Nashville, it was facing a rookie quarterback in Will Levis who was making his NFL debut. Nevertheless, he torched Atlanta for four touchdown passes without an interception.

One week after star QB Kirk Cousins was lost to a season-ending injury, the Vikings started rookie QB Jaren Hall at Atlanta. But when a concussion forced Hall to leave the game, Minnesota was forced to put in backup QB Josh Dobbs, who had been acquired in a trade with Arizona in the middle of the week.

Dobbs didn’t practice once and didn’t even know many of his teammate’s names. He was seen on the sidelines working with Minnesota’s center on his cadence as other members of the offensive line listened and observed.

After being tackled in the end zone for a safety and coughing up a fumble deep in his own team’s territory, Dobbs was off to a rough start in his Minnesota debut. He would settle in, though, and orchestrate a 31-28 comeback win.

Dobbs completed 20-of-30 passes for 158 yards and two TDs without an interception. He also ran for a team-high 66 rushing yards and one TD on just seven attempts.

Heinicke connected on 21-of-38 throws for 268 yards with one TD and one interception. He also had 20 rushing yards on three attempts.

Smith continued to display his utter incompetence as a head coach. Despite playing in the NFL’s weakest division, Smith’s career record fell to 18-25.

How Smith wasn’t fired before lunch today is incomprehensible, but the Falcons have their open date after their trip to Arizona. If Murray can lead Arizona to victory, you would think that Arthur Blank would have zero choice but to pink slip Smith at that point.