Suddenly, this QB matchup Sunday between Kyler and C.J. Stroud feels like must-see TV. The mailbag is always must-see, of course. Don't forget to send a question for a future mailbag.
From Dori To:
"I know some people will think this is an overreaction, but we only needed one game to make sure Kyler is Kyler, and he is, so imma ask it: Do we have the best QB in the NFC? Or at least top two? The only other serious option is Jalen Hurts, who I'll admit can make an excellent case for himself. I don't think a lot of people would argue Dak or Geno or Purdy are better football players, even if occasionally they have a lot of production. Am I delusional?"
I mean, far be it for me to declare you delusional or not, Dori. We just met. But I just might ask you to slow the roll just a tad. Do I think Kyler Murray had about as good of a first game back as he could have? Yes. Do I think he's a finished product already? Definitely not. Does he deserve to be ranked as one of the best QBs in the NFC? I mean, Hurts has earned that title. Purdy had a couple of tough games, but mostly, he has been fantastic. He's earned the right to be put above Murray at this point. Kirk Cousins was playing very well when he got hurt. I'm not saying Kyler isn't talented enough to find a spot in that rarified air. But he's one game into this comeback. He has yet to throw a TD pass. Let's let this play out a bit.
From Rob S:
"That was a lot of shotgun. I was hoping that would decrease to typical NFL levels with Kingsbury's departure. Are we seeing Petzing ease Kyler Murray into his offense or are we seeing Kyler continue to be unable to operate under center?"
I don't see how you can say he was unable to do it when he had nine snaps under center. It's not a lot but if he couldn't do it, that number would be zero -- especially since Tune is going to be the short-yardage guy. Here's how I see the shotgun v under-center thing: the quarterback has to be able to do both, and you need to keep the defense honest, but there are multiple ways to get this done. I do not think Kyler is every going to be a majority-under-center guy. But I do think the number might increase some, and it will depend on the game plan too.
From Sebas Quiros:
"Very happy for the win. Offense looked a little clunky at times but that will get sorted with time I believe. However Darren, I do have two questions. What is going on with Marco Wilson? And why is Rondale still playing? This one is the most mind-boggling for me. Dortch is so much better in my opinion."
With Wilson, I don't think there is any question that he has struggled this season. I don't know how much of that is just a rough year or getting comfortable in the system. I will say this in defense of Wilson -- he has kind of fallen into the "No. 1 CB" role. When you take a guy in the fourth round I don't think you necessarily assume he'll be your top cover guy and clearly, that room is undergoing a transition. That said, he does need to play better. Certainly, the coaches feel like it makes sense to have him out there based on what they have in the room and what they see at practice every week. As for Moore and Dortch, it's the same thing. The word that coaches (on both staffs in Dortch's tenure) have brought up is consistency. They also have been used differently; if Dortch was being used on a lot of horizontal passes or screens, would he have had the success he's had in limited time?
From Matthew Stroh:
"Hey Darren, thank you for the mail bag you do such an amazing job. A lot of the people in the media said we should trade Murray. Or Murray should be benched for the rest of season or we should just get rid of Murray oh yeah whatever. Was he perfect you could say? No, but he was amazing coming off a major injury. What do you think the national media is going to argue about now? I feel that he proved in one single game that he is the leader."
Murray had a fantastic return, but it's one game and he needs to continue to do what he does the rest of the season. As for the national media, there is Dak and the Cowboys, the Jets and now Josh Allen and the Bills. They'll find stuff to say.
From Tyler G:
"This team has at least two rookies who seem to have a speech disorder and I love that we get to hear them speak. Is there something about the Cardinals leadership that makes it more than a coincidence? Maybe someone involved in these decisions has an above average understanding of speech disorders."
You are speaking of Paris Johnson and Dante Stills, and both have an impressive handle on their public personas. I don't think the Cardinals are making picks based on that, but I do think people that have been able to work through such issues show the kind of character the Cardinals seek on the roster.
From Jayson Wing:
"Happy Thanksgiving Darren to you and your family. I thought we traded Joshua Dobbs and the a seventh-round pick in 2024 for a Vikings sixth-round pick in 2024. Now l heard or read the compensation can be higher as Dobbs continues to have success. Can the pick be higher than the sixth round?"
No, the pick can't be higher than a sixth. But the Cardinals could recoup the seventh they sent in the deal if Dobbs continues to do well, and it sure looks like that is going to happen. If that were to happen, the Cardinals will have ultimately traded a fifth in 2024 (which was the Eagles fifth-rounder, so later in the round) for half a season of Dobbs, a Vikings' sixth-rounder and the Browns' seventh-rounder.
From Glenn Q:
"Hi Darren. I'm doubling down with my 'told ya so's this morning. Trey McBride did not get his shot at No. 1 TE because the coaches saw the talent and development. He only got his shot because Zach Ertz got hurt. So nobody should tell us fans the 'coaches know better.' No they don't. Coaches are defensive and stuck in their ways. As much as we all loved BA, a big drawback of his personality was that he was stubborn and ran a good ole boys club. Despite the lament of the fans to fire special teams coach Amos Jones, BA never would. You couldn't tell him anything. We've been calling for Trey to get a shot at for awhile now, but Ertz was blocking him? Why?"
McBride looked very good Sunday. I agree he should be ahead of Ertz at this point. But I'm curious why you want to turn this into a sweeping indictment of coaches. I have no idea what you do for a job, but I do know that you probably have a better idea how to do it than someone from the outside specifically because the person on the outside doesn't have all the information that goes into every decision. I'm not saying coaches don't make mistakes. I do think BA stuck with Jones too long. But you lose credibility on a fair point about McBride by making it about everything across the board, and that's just ridiculous.
From Dhruvraj Parmar:
"Hey Darren thanks for the mailbag. Absolutely stoked to see Kyler and JC back and playing the way they used to play. Emergence of Trey McBride also looks promising. My question is while it was correct decision to trade Dobbs what do you think is the reason he is playing way better in Minnesota he played here? Are there any post-mortem analysis done by the team. I am guessing talent on receiving corps, teams he has played against in Minnesota and O-line all play a factor. Do you think the coaching schematics there just fit him better than one in Arizona?"
If you look at the numbers Dobbs' showing the last two games with the Vikings, while impressive, was about the same level he was playing at after the first month with the Cardinals, especially the three game stretch against the Giants, Cowboys and 49ers. Everything fits into it -- his roster might be a little better (but still without Justin Jefferson) and the Vikings are playing for a postseason spot. Dobbs' AZ issues also kicked in hard after James Conner went down. But again, let's see this over eight or 10 games. Does Dobbs stay at this level? Does he come back to earth like he did in Arizona?
From Tom Cowley:
"Hi Darren. Who in your opinion is our current RB2? I'm concerned about Conner's health and his major performance record. I don't see a RB2 performing much. Thanks."
The No. 2 running back is Emari Demercado, but a toe injury has sidelined him for two games.
From John Turilli:
"It's got to be tough being a Cardinals media man answering question for a 2-8 team. We ask impossible-to-answer questions sometimes and I know that must be tough. If I'm not mistaken we were 1-13 since Kyler got hurt. I'll tell you and everyone who writes in please put yourself in Darren's job and try to be as positive as he has been reporting on a 2-13 team over the last year. I personally thank you for this opportunity and to everyone please keep the comments coming as that is a great addition to all the articles."
Thanks John, but let me make clear, I get it. I get some of the questions and why people ask them and why they are frustrated. That's part of the deal. I would never ask anyone to be positive if they aren't feeling it (although I will say there are some out there who work hard to be negative all the time -- their lives must be exhausting.) This franchise is trying to rebuild. Kyler's return hopefully jump-starts that faster, but I've been doing this a long time, and this is part of the gig, just like a 10-6 season would be.