As we wait for a coach, it felt like a good move to get ahead of the week and post the mailbag a day early. It's always a good day for the mailbag. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.
From John Turilli:
"Do you think the fan base is ready for another first-year head coach? Since I have moved to the Valley in 1995 we have had eight head coaches with six being first-time. The two outliers are Denny Green and Buddy Ryan. Another would make it 7 out of 9. We lost out on Flores, Payton and Reich. Just do not know why Michael Bidwill does not want to give up the reins to an experienced person to create some stability here. I look at the Pittsburgh Steelers and see three coaches since 1969. Kind of wonder how they do it?"
OK, you are making arguments that don't exactly line up here. I don't know if they are ready for a first-year head coach, but I do know that it doesn't matter if that coach wins. I don't recall fans having a lot of love for Ryan or Green when the team couldn't get to the playoffs. "Lost out" implies that there was a serious chance; Frank Reich preferred Carolina in part because it was close to family so the Panthers were going to be his first choice, for instance. You are assuming the only reason a coach doesn't come is because ownership "won't give up the reins" and I'm curious how you know that. Finally, you name the Steelers -- who, by the way, with those three head coaches you mention? None had been a head coach before.
From Lucas Diaz:
"Is there going to be any montages with A.J. Green and his career over? Just something to remember all his greatest moments on the Cardinals."
I can't tell if you are trying to be sarcastic or not after Green's retirement.Obviously Green's highlights were few and far between this past season -- he had a few more in 2021, especially during the Cardinals' fast start -- and his quiet exit wasn't quite the same as J.J. Watt's departure. But, and I know I have a different perspective getting to know these guys as people, I felt like Green handled himself like a pro these two years. He wasn't the same player he had been, true.
From Sadiehawk Farm Hills:
"Why are we not hearing anything about Eric Bieniemy? He has been a successful offensive coordinator under Andy Reid and surely can bring some life to this head coach search. The man has been mentored by a old-school NFL coach and winning with in the new age game. Is there a chance for a interview?"
I think at this point we would've heard something, like we heard about Jonathan Gannon on Super Bowl Sunday. I know the Cardinals reached out to him for an interview in 2019 and he reportedly turned them down. For whatever reason, he has not gotten traction for a job. It hasn't just been with Arizona.
From Penny Lane:
"Hi Darren. You and share the same philosophy on running backs; that is you don't pay them or draft them high. A good offensive line can make any running back a Pro Bowler. Invest in the OL! But I wanted to get your thoughts on receivers. I recognize there are unicorns at wide receiver, like Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss and Julio Jones. This may be blasphemous, but I don't consider Larry Fitzgerald to be part of that freak category. I think much of Fitz's HOF career came from his longevity, not his dominance. I definitely do think it's important to have a No. 1 WR, but not without limits. I personally don't believe in paying them $25M+. I think a good QB with a good OL (invest in the OL!) can make any wide receiver serviceable. What's your philosophy on wide receivers?"
Well, we are going to have to agree to disagree about Fitz. The man was a freak. Longevity -- especially at his level -- means something as much as speed or quickness. When you saw Fitz next to other receivers at practice for as long as I did, you can tell the difference. Big picture, I understand what you are saying. But then you don't have that guy, and it becomes stickier all the rest of the way. The Cardinals were better with D-Hop this past year than without (not overwhelmingly, but in 2021 you could really tell the difference.) Look, special players need to get paid. It's up to the teams to figure out who is special and who you can afford from whom to move on. I don't think receiver is the same as running back; I do think it's harder to find receivers who can be consistently effective. I think the Eagles' trajectory changed when they got A.J. Brown. And the Titans too, the other way.
From Art Pozza:
"There is still talk of retaining Vance Joseph as defensive coordinator. I understand there were other factors, but the defense was still atrocious. How many times did the opposing offense just crush in the ground game? Worst pass rush in the league. Re-watch the games or look at the stats. The offense was terrible, but the defense was too, why would we bring back Joseph?"
I don't need to re-watch the games. I was there the first time. I think when Joseph has had players he's done a solid job. Curious if you think a DC who had a good year -- let's say Anarumo or Gannon -- would've done a lot better with the same personnel? I disagree he is a bad coach. Players matter.
From Matthew Stroh:
"Hey Darren thank you again for the mailbag. I'm just a 'self-aware hypocrite idiot,' but I have two questions. Do you like seeing a coach that knows at the end of the season they will most likely get fired do it the Texans way or the Cardinals way? In my opinion, the Texans head coach never gave up and I thought Kliff did. What do you think? Last question, I agree it was unfair last week that you didn't get a personal wish and so if you had one wish and you couldn't wish for more wishes and it was not Cardinals-related what would it be? Thank you again, from the self-aware hypocrite idiot."
OK, a couple things here. Not sure where this "self-aware hypocrite idiot" thing is from. Did someone call you out? DId I (I don't recall that happening.) Are you angry at yourself? Anyway, I couldn't disagree more with the idea Kliff "quit." First, I truly believe he didn't think he was going to be fired. So why would he pack it in. Also, did you see the roster he was trying to win with down the stretch? Like I said, totally disagree. As for the wish, it'd be money. Lots and lots of money. If I was a billionaire, it's easy to figure out ways to accomplish other things I might want or wish to do. And still do a mailbag!
From Gary Hilton:
"Darren, life-long and frustrated Cardinal fan. Wishing the new head coach the best. As you know their is a long history of wrong folks who were chosen head coach. For a few brief periods the right guy was hired. Don Coryell, he had five very successful years here. I don't remember, but why did the Cardinals let him go to the Chargers where he cemented his Hall of Fame career?"
Funny you should ask, because I came across that exact article as I put together my story about Coryell going into the Hall of Fame. Apparently Coryell wanted more input into the Cardinals' draft process at the time, and he was told no. He decided he'd rather not be the coach anymore and Bill Bidwill granted him that wish by letting him go. It's too bad. He was an excellent coach and the Cardinals were very good with him in charge.
From Sebas Quiros:
"What are the roles exactly of coaches and coordinators? Say in a traditional one head coach, one offensive coordinator and one defensive coordinator system. Does the head coach have input on play calls? Say your head coach is offensive oriented. They obviously establish the way they want the offense to work along with the OC but do they leave the way the defense plays all up to the DC? Thanks for the mailbag!"
It all depends on who all those coaches are. Some head coaches are more CEO types and leave the detail game planning stuff mostly to the coordinators. But a lot of the time the head coach will lean into his expertise -- offense or defense -- and collaborate with the coordinator on that side of the ball. If the staff is in sync, there is always talking with the head coach about both sides of the ball (and on special teams.)
From Kenyon Carlson:
"Darren, is there any chance the Cards depth chart could be reposted? I'd like to put together an analysis to compare with one I did on the Bengals to see if the Cards are building primarily through the draft, as the Bengals are doing successfully, or if they're relying primarily on FAs?"
I appreciate the ask, Kenyon, but at this point, the depth chart wouldn't help much -- all the IR guys would not appear -- and it makes little sense to leave up this time of year anyway. You might want to try profootballreference.com.
From Jason W:
"Darren, by the time this goes up the Super Bowl will be over and we will have a new coach, so now we can get back to the number one question: NEW UNIFORMS? Thank you for your time, have a good day."
You are half right. And it's good to feel like we have a sense of normalcy too. Uniform questions keep me grounded.