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You've Got Mail: A Week In Tennessee Week

Topics include Kyler's need for preseason snaps, cornerback concern, and the black helmets

Mailbag Kirklin 0823

The Cardinals are in Tennessee this week, practicing against the Titans on Wednesday before closing out the preseason schedule there. So here's the mailbag, apropos of nothing. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From Glenny Nguyen:

"Hi Darren, you knew this question was coming! Let it be me! Ahem .... so you're telling me that Kyler Murray is such a perfect finished product as an NFL quarterback that he doesn't need any preseason practice reps? Not one? Just MVP fresh out the gate game one? Hmmm? Run the footage back from the last time we saw him in a live NFL game and I think the receipts beg to differ."

Wow, you seem to have significant coaching experience. I don't recognize the name, so forgive me. Justin Herbert hasn't had as much success as Kyler in his career and he has never played in a preseason game. This will be the first preseason in which Kyler has not. I guess I'd be curious to know how much you think he should play. Is two series enough to help? I'm going to say no -- especially since none of the other key players are going to play. If someone significant gets hurt, then what. Finally, Murray played only a few snaps last year and he got off to a great start last season. You're saying his struggles at the end of the season were ... because he doesn't play enough in the preseason? Really?

From Bob Burton:

"I won't bother with the 'no disrespect' preface because this is an inherently disrespectful comment; but so be it because it's 100% true: our CB room is mind numbingly weak to the point where career No. 5 CB Anthony Hamilton is going to be a STARTER on our team this year. It's going to be a very very bad year in pass defense. What is Steve Keim thinking? Everyone (you included Darren) expected the team to sign a vet CB. Our CB group is weak with all starters present. Just imagine what's going to happen if someone gets hurt."

I still expect the addition of a cornerback, and likely of the veteran variety. Depth is a concern with any injuries, that I won't deny. The cornerback position isn't that much different than last year, save for Robert Alford. Let's see what the roster looks like Sept. 11.

From Chuck Riley:

"Hi Darren. You watch all of Cards practices. I noticed Hamilton as the No. 2 corner over Wilson. In practice, in your opinion, was the race for No. 2 close or Hamilton outright took that spot?"

I don't get to see everything that goes into the decision. But in practice, I definitely felt Hamilton outplayed Wilson. Kliff Kingsbury made too many comments as camp went along to think that shift wasn't possible, and here we are. Wilson is a young player. He's got room to grow. We'll see if this sparks something.

From Don Smith:

"Kingsbury said his starters 'will get almost all their preseason action in the joint practice with Tennessee.' Is this the new norm in the NFL? What are we really paying to see in the preseason games? Next year the Cardinals season tickets holders will be paying for TWO home preseason games that will not include any starters. Is there any chance we can see the stars actually play during the joint practices?"

The joint practices aren't open to the public; that will depend on where they hold them whenever they have them. And even in the practices the main guys are going to be protected from both sides. It's where the NFL is trending to be sure. Losing players to injury -- actually, preventing it if possible -- has become the No. 1 thing for many teams in camp, even moreso than losing any potential prep work.

From Domingo Castillo:

"Hey Darren, If I remember correctly, the Cardinals were one of the most penalized offenses in the NFL the last two years. Too often, during the game, they would make a great play, only to have it negated because of a penalty. That is heartbreaking and frustrating to the fans and the team. Coach kept saying, 'we need to get better' over and over. Have they addressed that issue? I've never read anything, anywhere, about Cardinals working on that issue. That's been my concern all year, not about them getting new uniforms, Kyler's studying habits, or if Hopkins is going to attend more practices."

You are correct in that the Cardinals were fourth in the league in penalties last season and had the most penalties in 2020. Do they want to get better? Yes. They had two last week in the preseason opener, and against the Ravens had five penalties, which wasn't too bad. But yes, they work on the issue. They did the last two years too. Doesn't mean it'll always translate. No team should be committing pre-snap penalties. The other ones, it happens.

From Collin M:

"Hi Darren, thanks in advance for everything you do. Just a couple (unrelated to each other) questions: first, I was listening to a great podcast (Bootleg Football) that painstakingly analyzed all 32 teams, and on the Cardinals, they noted that (a) the Cards have a remarkable number of Coordinator-level coaches — more than any other team; and (b) that Keim has always had a penchant for building a bit unconventional rosters. From your vantage, does any of this make sense through your lens? Secondly, I heard a comment that shotgun limits what you can do from a play calling standpoint, which is why the norm in the NFL is under center. Yet, I've heard Kliff comment he can do pretty much anything from shotgun. I was hoping you might be able to help shed some light. Thanks!"

I don't know if they are talking, coach-wise, about coaches that have that title or that are good enough to be coordinator types. I do think the Cardinals have built a good staff. I don't know if Keim has built unconventional rosters, but he does a good job filling in some holes when draft picks don't work out. As for shotgun, I asked Kliff that question last week and he remains steadfast in liking shotgun. You can make the argument that things like play-action work better from under center, but with Kliff's philosophy and Kyler's size, shotgun makes a lot of sense.

From Nathan Palmer:

"Some rapid fire questions for you Darren.

  • What are some players you like still on the market you are hoping Cardinals sign? (some of mine are Dee Ford, Joe Haden, Chris Harris)
  • Why did we cut Jessie Lemonier? He had a drive against the Bengals he looked unstoppable, I believe in the three plays he had one sack, one forced fumble, and 2 QB hits.
  • What games this season are we wearing the black helmets?
  • Have you ever met Pat Tillman?"

Here are some rapid fire answers.

  • I don't know if there is a particular player. Bringing back Robert Alford, if a trade somewhere can't be worked out, would be intriguing.
  • Kingsbury said he wasn't going to make the team, and they have so many outside linebackers -- and I think they really like their three draft picks -- it just wasn't going to happen here.
  • They wore it against the Ravens, and then they will again against the Eagles Week 5 and the Saints in Week 7.
  • I did. I covered the team in 2000 and 2001 in his final two seasons, and I sat next to him on Sept. 11 and talked to him as we watched news coverage of the Twin Towers burning.

From Byron David:

"So Darren, is there a league regulation that calls for an all-white chin strap? If not, the all black helmet would certainly gain more intensity with a black strap. What do you think?"

The league rules do say helmets must be worn with a white chin strap.

From Cindy Dobbins:

"I've liked Greg Dortch since he was first here and never understood why he didn't play. I also watched Victor Bolden win MVP in the USFL. Do you think, given their size, both will make the team?"

I don't know whether the size is all that matters, but no, I don't think both will make the team. They are basically mirror images of one another; I would guess they are fighting for the same spot -- assuming one makes it. Moore, Green, Wesley, Brown are locks. Hop won't count as a roster spot until Week 7. So you probably keep at least one more WR, if not two. Is it Dortch? Is it Isabella for now? Has Bolden shown enough. These are fascinating questions. I'd think Dortch has done enough, but we will see.

From Matthew Stroh:

"Hey Darren aka workaholic, no-days-off Darren. I like hearing you on more and more videos and podcasts. But where's Mike Jurecki? With all this extra work your doing, I don't want you to get put on the PUP list. I see there's Kevin Parrish Jr. who writes some articles whenever it's not you. Maybe he can help. I'm just throwing out options. I just don't want my favorite sport writer to go on the PUP list. If Michael Bidwill reads this, Darren needs a raise. Keep up all the great content please. I know I'm not the only one who loves it. P.S. for future Cardinals Underground can you see if producer Jim Omohundro can get the 'you got burned' sound effect for the show?"

MJ left the job this offseason, but yes, we have Kevin. I'll see if I can get Omo to consider the sounder. And no, I'm no above printing a "question" that lauds me so.

From Mason Nuzman:

"Hi Darren! From my point of view as a fan, I see Dortch, Isabella, and Wesley in a sort of three-way tie for the fifth receiver role. While they each have their own strengths and weaknesses is there one that you see having an edge over the others? I like them all and would like them all to make the team but I know that's not realistic. Thanks!"

If he is healthy, Wesley has that job. They need some size at receiver and that's one thing he brings. He hasn't been healthy for a while and if that bleeds into the regular season, then there are some decisions to make.

From Joachim Ploug:

"Hi Darren! Greg Dortch has been getting good reviews during training camp, so it was really nice to see him show it against the Bengals. Also listening to his press conference, you can just feel his heart pounding out of his chest - how can you not root for the guy! As of right now do you think he's ahead of Isabella? And do you think he's locked up a spot on the 53? Especially considering his ability as a punt returner. Greetings from Denmark!"

It feels like he is ahead of Isabella, yes. But one thing sticks with me, and that is Kingsbury, every time Dortch's name comes up, talks about him needing to understand the playbook better. I think that is something Isabella already does. But you are right, Dortch can return kicks, and that's not really in Isabella's wheelhouse. As I mentioned earlier in the mailbag, I think Dortch has a spot. But we will see.

From Bill Thompson:

"I know that there must be a good reason, but for the life of me I sure can think of one! Matt Prater missed two extra points. Why do we not line the ball up in the middle of the field to try for the extra point after a touchdown? Thanks Darren!"

On extra points, the ball is placed where the kicker wants it. For soccer-style kickers -- which is everyone these days and has been since the early 1980s -- the ball doesn't necessarily go straight every time. It's like a golf swing with the way the ball can move, and kickers have to take that into account.

From Max Lloyd:

"Darren, I need your opinion what do you thinks are record is going to be I feel like if I ask a fan they will give me 16-0 so what do you think?"

I think whoever you're talking to isn't much of a fan since teams play 17 games now.

From Tyler Batman:

"What is your take on the new helmets? I think they could be toned down (minus the glitter) and replace our bland white helmets."

I like them. And they will never replace the regular helmets. Those are traditional and they aren't going to punt tradition like that.

From Steve Drumm:

"Hey Darren, In the past, you have occasionally responded to questions regarding potential Keim Time signings with 'Daryl Washington is not walking through that door.' What if the unthinkable happened and Daryl Washington DID walk through that door today! What would you say/think?"

I would probably say, "Hi Daryl. How have you been?" And then point him to the alumni offices, because that's clearly what he'd be here for.

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