So ... a lot's happened since we last had a mailbag. A bad loss against Denver. A change in offensive coordinators. Reports of trade requests, and statements that say such a trade won't happen. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are prepping for round two against the 49ers, their lone win of the season. As always, here is the link to send questions for next Tuesday's mailbag, and if you don't see your question here, I likely answered something similar.
From Malcolm Sloan via azcardinals.com:
"What reasons have been given for the failure to change, or at least modify, the base defensive 4-3 scheme at this point?"
Wilks said last week he still thinks the decision to go 4-3 was the right move. The funny thing is, they have basically played a 4-2-5 all season -- with Budda Baker as the nickel back in lieu of a third linebacker. In terms of changing it, I would assume you mean, what, go back to a 3-4? That's not going to happen after the entire offseason was spent installing this scheme. Wilks also addressed Monday how they are playing things against the run in particular.
"Why hasn't it been effective against the run?" Wilks said. "Guys aren't executing, consistently doing their job. That has nothing to do with scheme, nothing whatsoever, based off what teams are doing. And as I mentioned the other day, you start getting four or five different looks from the offensive side of the ball, guys spreading you out. They're trying to create matchups. As you look at what we try to do at times with David (Johnson), as well as Chase (Edmonds) being on the field, when teams get you in base, they're trying to find that matchup. By going nickel, you eliminate that."
I think it's going to be a little of both. Leftwich is still going to be operating with the same verbiage that they've used all season. I'm sure there will be plays that weren't available when McCoy was in place -- such as David Johnson getting split wide, or more runs outside. It will look different, I believe. But some of it has to do with when things are called, not just what is called.
From Justin Graff via azcardinals.com:
"The players, particularly on defense, were visibly frustrated and shaken Thursday night. It reminded a bit of that infamous Seattle game. Do you get a sense from defensive players that they've been galvanized a bit with the McCoy change? Do you see P2 getting an itch to move on? Or do you think he takes a more of a Fitz approach to winning specifically with AZ?
Well Justin, you sent in the question before the Peterson news Monday, so we will have to see on that. In terms of the defense overall, I don't know if a change in offensive coordinator is going to galvanize those players. I understand the concept of being frustrated that the offense can't score much and that puts a lot on the other side of the ball. But the defense has had its issues too, and if anything, the OC change, in my opinion, puts the spotlight over on the other side of the ball now.
The Cardinals say they aren't trading Peterson. I don't see it happening either. Like I said in my post, there are more reasons to keep P2 than let him go, in my opinion. This isn't the Raiders. The Cards have no desire to tear down everything, not with a young QB, cap room for next year, and the knowledge teams can turn things around in one year. They aren't moving Chandler Jones either. And Larry Fitzgerald? I feel like I've answered this a million times over the years. He won't be traded, he will never be traded.
From Benjamin Quesada via azcardinals.com:
"Has a move back to safety been considered for Deone Bucannon in this defense where he seems to be undersized for coach Wilks' tastes at LB?"
No, I don't think a move to safety has been considered. I'm not sure how Buc would work at safety now after all these years as a linebacker. He's not as good in coverage as Budda Baker, who is the nickel safety. And at this point, Antoine Bethea is a guy they trust at strong safety. So I'm not sure where he'd slot even if you wanted to do that.
From Mike Terlizzi via azcardinals.com:
"Has Robert Nkemdiche lost the coaches trust? Is he seeing less time because he isn't where he is supposed to be? Isn't this supposed to be a simple one -gap scheme where you are only responsible for your gap?"
The fact Wilks talked last week that he needed to put the guys out there that he knew would do what they were supposed to regardless of draft status, and then have Nkemdiche drop out of the starting lineup, certainly would indicate such. Yes, this is "simple one-gap scheme." Which is why the coaches have been so frustrated with that part of it.
From Eddie Bramble via azcardinals.com:
"With the way this season has gone I think one question exemplifies the Wilks Era in Arizona. Why do coaching staffs around the NFL continue to implement schemes that do not compliment the personnel on the roster? We have an All-Pro cover corner playing zone, a jump-cut running back pounding the ball up the middle and a talented first round Dollar LB/S on the bench. I know everyone is frustrated, including the coaching staff, but at what point do you take a step back and see the success they previously had with this talent and think, 'Maybe this scheme is wrong right now.' "
I'd take some umbrage with some of your analysis. Peterson is playing fine and I don't think the scheme has impacted him. Teams aren't throwing at him regardless of what scheme he is in. The Bucannon thing -- I don's see him as a safety and I'm not sure many teams would at this point. He is talented, yes. I don't know exactly why there has been a disconnect there, but clearly there is a lack of trust from the coaches. They definitely need to find ways to get him the ball in better spots.
But big picture, whether it was this coach or anyone else, one of the reasons they are hired is because of their success they had previous. Here's how I described it last week in the mailbag (since the question keeps getting asked.)
If I told you I wanted to hire you to do a job you'd been doing for 20 years, you had success in your previous jobs and you knew that was a big reason I was hiring you -- but then I told you you had to do the job the way the previous guy had done it (a way you had not done it in 20 years), how would you handle that?
It's not a simple answer, even though I realize plenty of fans think otherwise.