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You've Got Mail: Bears Week

AZC_CardinalsMailbag

It was, and there's no other way to put it, an ugly game in Los Angeles. Steve Wilks called it a "debacle." After an ugly game against Washington. But as the Cardinals move on the a home game against the Bears, I know there are plenty of people with questions. Which is why we have this mailbag, right? We have a mixture of queries from Twitter and the site (which can be submitted here). As usual, I got many more questions than I can answer, and if I didn't use yours, it's probable I have answered a question that is similar.

Might as well get it out of the way early. Bottom line, I've never got the sense they have an urgency to rush him into the lineup right now, given the myriad problems of the offense. Steve Wilks has said -- multiple times -- he doesn't believe the offensive issues are one guy, in this case Sam Bradford. And while yes, it makes sense to start getting Rosen some reps at some point if the season doesn't quickly turn, there is also a fine line in dropping in an inexperienced rookie into a spot if you are thinking the other offensive problems are going to make it too hard to have some success. Rosen is going to have growing pains even in the best-case scenario. You better make sure you aren't putting him in a situation where he can't grow.

Fitz isn't getting traded. Period. Should they? No. And how do you know this is his last season?

From Kyle Curtis via azcardinals.com:

"There was talk about using the tight end more because the raiders had some good production with it. Why didn't that happen?"

Ricky Seals-Jones did get six targets, the most on the team. But it didn't produce much (17 yards on four catches) and frankly, the way the Cards are running the offense right now, waiting for a tight end to get down the seam isn't something that is working.

From Robert Malicki via azcardinals.com:

"My question goes back to how the WR-room would look in the final roster and that is the inclusion of DJ in the passing attack. Does the coaching staff see David Johnson as an integral part of the downfield route running, not only as an outlet receiver but as a complement of Larry? His size, height and hands would be tough for any DB to handle. Is his route running up to WR standards and could he be an asset in the passing game or is that usage of him counter-productive from the running game? Can David be used as like 'superback' Marshall Faulk?"

Johnson can be used that way. We saw it in 2016. And it sure sounded like that's how Wilks is trending going forward. How the coaching staff has seen him up until this point doesn't seem like it has been as a part of the downfield game. I would expect that to change. Now, is Johnson perfect in running routes? He still has hiccups, something he admits. He is not a true wide receiver. But he can be close, and he's a weapon in that part of the game. And no, again judging by 2016, using him in the pass game shouldn't take away from what he can do running the ball.

From Duane Anderson via azcardinals.com:

"With the WRs struggling will Dez Bryant be someone that the Cardinals bring in for a workout?"

Don't see it. They had no interest in training camp, and while I understand there seems to be holes at receiver, Bryant makes little sense right now in my opinion. He's going to want to be paid. I'm not sure he'd handle the struggles of the team all that well. And given that Fitz is the top pass target and that the Cardinals don't figure to be that wide-open in the passing game even if things go well, would he be OK -- even if he is the No. 2 WR -- of getting, say, 50 catches on the season? When he will inevitably be trying to set himself up for a big free-agent contract this coming offseason?

From Donna Carter via azcardinals.com:

"Why are we not throwing deeper passes? Can we call any other play than up the middle? If this all the offense can do, put the rookie QB in allow him to learn this year. Call it a wash and hope for next year because this offense has nothing going for it."

Wilks said Monday the Cardinals need to use J.J. Nelson much more as a vertical threat down the field, and I would anticipate that yes, they will try and call some deeper passes. The protection needs to hold up, and Bradford indeed has to be willing to pull the trigger. But I am guessing that will happen. As for the runs, it will be interesting to see if they try and run some things a little wider for Johnson to try and cut back here and there. But the idea of this offense was to be power-running, and clear some room up the middle. It'll help in the weeks they aren't playing Donald and Suh.

At some point, yes, they will try again to find a cornerback in the draft (don't forget, mistake or not, they spent a third-round pick on a cornerback two years ago and were hoping Brandon Williams would become that guy.) They have hope rookie Deatrick Nichols will evolve into a solid player, but right now, he's probably not an option. Jamar Taylor has struggled the first two games. It will be interesting to see if Bene Benwikere can find his way into playing time. But Sunday, the top five defensive backs -- Pat P, Taylor, Budda Baker, Antoine Bethea and Tre Boston -- all played 100 percent of the 72 defensive snaps.

From Todd Elias via azcardinals.com:

"Why do you think this new coaching staff decided to implement so much change schematically on both defense and offense? The Cardinals were a top 10 defense last year playing 3-4 and Chandler Jones was a sack machine. On the other side of the ball David Johnson had no problem being an elite RB without a fullback and now they've slowed things down and keep him from having more space to operate. It just seems like this coaching staff is trying to fix things that were far from ever being broken."

I'll start by saying I don't think David Johnson being less productive at this point has anything to do with having a fullback in front of him. As for the changes, that's what happens when you get a new coaching staff -- they usually make significant changes. If you are a coaching staff, you are hired on the merits of what got you here in your career, not to come in and simply continue what was being done by the previous staff. If that's all the Cardinals wanted to do, they would have promoted someone from the previous staff. And while I understand the frustration, the previous two seasons the Cardinals were a .500 team. You try to make things better. Obviously, it hasn't happened yet, but the intent was there.

From Todd Brown via azcardinals.com:

"Looking at Sunday’s game photos, I seen that Sam Bradford has a captains patch on his jersey with three gold stars. Obviously, he hasn’t been with the team for a full season. According to Wikipedia, 'The number of stars filled in on the patch represents the number of consecutive years that player has been named captain by that team.' So, why would Bradford have three gold stars?"

The rules were changed this year by the NFL, which told teams that players should now be credited for captaincies whereever they have played. This is the third time in his career Bradford has been named a captain, hence the three gold stars.

From Jeff Gollin via azcardinals.com:

"If Fitz can't play vs Bears, could he be used as a sideline coach assigned to one receiver (i.i. Kirk or Wiliams) as that receiver's personal-coach" for that game? That way, we could at least use Fitz's brain if not his body. Example: (Fitz to Kirk): 'If you want to sell the inside fake on that pattern, do it more with your eyes...' "

If Fitz can't play, he's going to be on the sideline anyway. Can he help? Maybe. He said once he doesn't like to "coach" when he is injured. He didn't think it's his place.

At this point, it has to do with production. And right now, Wilks sees Josh Bynes and Gerald Hodges as the better options as starters at linebacker. It's not like there was a huge difference in snaps -- when it was over, Hodges played 36 snaps, Bucannon 25 -- but it is notable that Hodges surpassed Buc on the depth chart. I think there is still a learning curve for Buc and Haason Reddick in what this staff wants them to do.

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