Cards OC McCoy hopeful of Fitz returning

FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2016, file photo, San Diego Chargers coach Mike McCoy argues a call during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C. McCoy has been hired as offensive coordinator by the Arizona Cardinals and Al Holcomb is following new Cardinals coach Steve Wilks from Carolina to be defensive coordinator. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone, File)

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) New Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said he will adjust his system to the abilities of whoever winds up being the team’s quarterback.

He also said he has reached out to Larry Fitzgerald and talked to the wide receiver – who ranks third all-time in NFL receptions – about the offense McCoy will bring.

Fitzgerald hasn’t publicly said he is returning for a 15th pro season but McCoy sure sounded like the receiver is a big part of the plans for the inaugural year under new Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks.

“It was great to talk to him,” McCoy said at an introductory news conference Monday. “He’s excited.”

McCoy, who served four seasons as head coach at San Diego, inherits an offense that has no quarterback on its roster. General manager Steve Keim and Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said they will be aggressive in finding one – or more – through free agency, trades and the draft.

“It’s a great challenge,” McCoy said, “I’m excited for it, come in here and figure out who that quarterback’s going to be and build the system around those players that we have here.”

The Cardinals were left without a quarterback when Carson Palmer announced his retirement, one day after head coach Bruce Arians also retired.

McCoy repeatedly said he would build the offense around the abilities of the players.

“The key thing I think as a coach and as the offensive coordinator is to find out what our players do best,” he said, “and we’ll adjust accordingly.”

McCoy said he wants a quarterback “that’s going to win a lot of games.”

“That’s one thing you always look at when you evaluate the quarterback position is his win-loss record or does he make a team better,” he said. “There are certain quarterbacks that are great quarterbacks, but aren’t on very good teams.”

The quarterback needs to be a leader and be tough.

“It’s all about winning,” McCoy said. “We want to get a guy that’s going to win a lot of games for us and be a leader, because they’re all different shapes and sizes. That doesn’t matter to me.”

Wilks, who was defensive coordinator at Carolina last season after five years as the Panthers’ secondary coach, said he felt a connection during the offensive coordinator’s job interview.

“I think it’s important that you have a coach that understands the vast range of players that he may have to coach,” Wilks said, “and most importantly understanding that we may teach a certain way but we have to communicate with these guys differently based off their talent level, the number of years they may have been in the league, whatever.”

McCoy was offensive coordinator in Denver from 2009 through 2012. He interviewed for the vacant Cardinals head coaching position in 2013 before taking the Chargers job. McCoy was fired by the Chargers after the 2016 season and spent last year as offensive coordinator with the Broncos again.

He will inherit one of the league’s best running backs in David Johnson, who broke his wrist in the opener and missed the rest of last season. Johnson led the NFL in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns in 2016.

McCoy said Fitzgerald reminded him that Johnson is more than a ball carrier.

“It’s not just going to be running it with him,” McCoy said. “When I talked to Larry the other day I made a comment and he said, `Coach, hold on now, this guy can run some routes for us, too, so let’s make sure we take advantage of that.'”

Wilks’ entire coaching background is on defense but McCoy said the two of them will always be in close communication, especially during games.

New defensive coordinator Al Holcomb and special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers are to meet with the media Tuesday.

AP NFL website: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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