That much-needed bye week is in the books, and the Cards are ready for a stretch run. Six games to go until the postseason, with a trip to Chicago on deck. The mailbag, of course, never stops. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.
From Jonathan Gartner:
"These Cardinals remind me a lot of the past two playoff teams the Cardinals fielded. Each of those teams fielded a balanced offensive attack and a balanced defensive front. What's more the 2014 Cards won games with Drew Stanton and were ultimately doomed when Ryan Lindley took the field. Similarly the 2015 Cards were impacted by injuries to Palmer's finger and Mathieu's ACL. This team is also getting hit with the injury bug but has managed to win and now has COVID to deal with. Having said all that, I think this team has better players in every room. The only exception I might make is the defensive back room. Having said all that, I think this team might be our best shot at a Super Bowl and a more balanced roster than either of those teams. What are your thoughts? You've covered the team for ages. Thanks for everything you cover for Cards fans."
That kind of assessment can't be made until the end of the season. At this point in the season, Mathieu and Palmer were still soaring in 2015 before things changed. Does this team have a chance to show greatness? Of course. I do love their depth -- they've already proven it means something. But for how it measures to previous playoff teams, we will see. A lot of people involved with the previous teams think the 2014 was better than 2015, but ultimately it's the results that are the final judge.
From Aleksi Koskinen:
"Hi Darren. Now that the team has the week off I hope the players get healthy, as it's been pretty clear many are banged up. Who all in the injured reserve are 100% sure to be out for the season? I suppose at least Maxx Williams and Kylie Fitts. In addition to being interested in the possibly returning players I'm looking at the cap with a bit of fear. I hope Keim gets some room to the cap by signing couple of extensions that create room to cap if we need some new player to replace some injured players and also makes sure key players stay in the team for a longer time. Hump and Chandler the main candidates as far as I see this with not that long to go with the deals they have and potential to make some savings if needed."
There is a little room on the cap right now but I don't know of there are extensions in-season on the horizon. Hump is signed through 2022 so nothing will be happening with him anytime soon. As for the injured players (and I assume you mean the guys on IR), I know they are thinking Edmonds, Brewer and Lawrence will all be coming back at some point, and maybe Vallejo. There is a lot of talk about Watt but we will see on that.
From Edson Sierra:
"Fitz being signed to replace ANY team member injured on ANY position, or uniform questions, a player has a bad game so he should be cut, only to be determined to be MVP on the game he's good at. Sometimes I find myself pulling my hair reading the questions on the mailbag. What's your reaction to these questions? I feel like you rage in silence, compose yourself, then give a proper answer."
I'm pretty sure I don't rage in silence. The best part of the mailbag is that a) I get a chance to respond and b) I get the last word. I do think some questions have more thought put into them than others. But there is always going to be a certain amount of emotion when soliciting input from fans.
From James in Vegas:
"Do you think Kliff is in the running for Coach of the Year? What odds would you give him? Whats odds do Kyle give him? Asking for a friend."
According to Kyle, Kliff is second place right now from oddsmakers to win Coach of the Year behind Bill Belichick. Do I think, right now, that he deserves heavy consideration? Of course. But there are a lot of games left in the season. A lot can still happen.
From Robert Malicki:
"Hi, Darren. A recent article discussed the issue of J.J. Watt returning to the field yet this season. My question concerns the NFL rules about this? What does Steve Keim have to deal with concerning this question? Assuming team medical and trainer personnel give J.J. and Keim the green light does this move need to take place before the regular season ends or is it still possible at the beginning of the playoffs? Is this situation unprecedented?"
In the NFL, unlike for instance, baseball, there IR rules don't change for the postseason from the regular season. Watt had to miss three games. Obviously that already happened. To have him practice with the team, they have to open a 21-day window for him to return. He can be activated at any point in that window. (If they open the window and he is not activated, he must stay on IR for the rest of the season; that just happened with offensive lineman Justin Murray.) In Watt's case, Keim doesn't have to do anything specifically other than that. That could happen, if the Cards time it right, all the way through the Super Bowl. All that said, there is no guarantee Watt's health will allow that to happen.
From Elton Klicick:
"Hi Darren. I'm as happy as anyone with how this season is going, but in regards to your recent article, I think we should pump the brakes a bit on this 'success story' of coach Kingsbury. Acting as if he's arrived. Yes, the first half of the season has been great. But ultimately nothing has been accomplished. We started off very well last season too prior to collapse. I do not believe that will happen this year, but the total implosion vs Carolina was shades of last season. Look at what Kyle Shanahan is now experiencing in SF. Despite his stellar reputation, he's only had one good season. May Kliff have turned the corner and its nothing but winning from here forward? Sure. Or could this be Kliff's one good season, and he regresses."
OK. I stand by my story.
From Jack Turney:
"Definitely getting ahead of myself, but I'm looking at that Colts game in five weeks and OOF! Has any team ever given up 1,000 yards rushing in one game? Let Murphy and Marco go 1 v 1, no safety help all game. That's what it'll take to stop the run. Send everyone to the box. We might go six DL, three ILBs all game."
Man, between you and Elton I'm beginning to question if the Cardinals are really 9-2 this season.
From Mike Kundle:
"Hi Darren, what is going on with Zaven Collins. I didn't see him at all against the Seahawks? Do you see this as a 'redshirt' year for him?"
DC Vance Joseph said Collins' recent injuries -- and Tanner Vallejo's play -- cost him playing time. But Joseph said Collins is "fine." I guess we will see coming out of the break, especially with Vallejo on IR.
From Riley Gotley:
"I noticed Markus Golden has a notch in his left ear. Did his earring get ripped out at some point? I'm sure that's a gnarly story."
I have never noticed that, to be honest. I'll try to ask him about that.
From David Long:
"I became a Cardinals fan in 1974; my father took me to my first professional football game. In the summer of 1975 I was cutting our grass on a riding lawn mower and a guy stopped and asked me to cut his grass. That ended up being Don Coryell! The years were kind between 1974 and 1976 and became a lifelong fan even when they left St Louis! Here's the question, I noticed just the other day Joe Gibbs was on Don Coryell's coaching staff, do you know what his role was and for how long?"
Joe Gibbs was on the Cardinals' staff from 1973-1977, coaching running backs.
From Tom Ward:
"We seem to be have some issues with keeping a long snapper on the field. How do you feel about signing Shipley? A proven commodity."
I'm not sure who Shipley is. As for "issues" keeping a long snapper, not sure what that means either. Aaron Brewer is hurt, Beau Brinkley is his replacement until Brewer can return. Brinkley being cut from the active roster is semantics; he is back on the practice squad and can easily be elevated on Sundays.
From Paul Court:
"Hi Darren. Enjoy watching, listening and reading on all the platforms. What a year we are having. The fact that the national media overlooks us for the most part I think is a great motivator for the players. I am a firm believer that the team last year was better than the record at the end of the season. Steve Keim and staff did an amazing job at addressing the noted issues and improving this team. I would like to hear your thoughts on the analysts and experts not seeing the Cards as a better team. I mean they had us finishing last in our division. Also loving the Folktales -- interesting how there are 11 episodes. What a finale that would be! That deserved an exclamation point. Go Cards!"
I'm not sure the predictions of the Cardinals being last in the NFC West was totally about that they might not be improved as much as what has turned out to be overestimations (at this point) of the Seahawks and, right now, the Niners. I do think Keim did a great job rehabbing the needs of the roster, and if the Cards have a playoff run, they will get their just due. As for Folktales, be sure to watch Wednesday's episode, marking the most famous of the Cards-Bears postgame interviews right before the Cards play the Bears.
From Trent Lane:
Hi Darren, not sure if you are the right person for this question, but I am wondering about seating for the Super Bowl. Premature for the Cardinals I know, but some buddies who cheer for other teams and I have a pact to go to the Super Bowl if any of our teams make it. Does the NFL give first crack at seats to season ticket holders for the teams that make it? To me it would make perfect sense and give the supporters a chance at seats instead of making team fans pay thousands in secondary markets which effectively prices out a lot of hard core fans. Thank you, enjoy your bye week!"
So here's the deal on Super Bowl tickets: Each participating team indeed gets some seats they can make available to season-ticket holders. But they obviously don't get enough to make available to each season-ticket holder, so there is a lottery to see who gets them. Players and coaches get tickets too, every team in the league gets an allotment, and the league also gets some.
From JR Hatfield:
"This might sound crazy but im in the business of crazy: should we be worried about another team picking up Chris Streveler for the playbook insight?"
Streveler was signed to the Ravens' practice squad, and no, I don't see someone signing him for that reason.
From Allen Frazier:
"Hi Darren, I hope all is well. I was wondering if you might have noticed on the last field-goal miss by Matt Prater they showed a ground level replay behind the kicker, it's a perfect view of when Lee finishes the spin of the football the laces are facing out and Prater's foot hits the laces right in the middle and the kick which looked good leaving then hooks hard to the left. We all remember George Finkel right? Anyway I wanted to know if the Cardinals will catch that in film or they already know."
My guess is they knew at the time. I don't know exactly what happened on the three misses -- all three were also on the same end of the stadium, the open end with swirling winds -- but I also doubt we will ever know for sure since no one is going to want to place blame.
From Johnny G:
"Hi Darren, I like reading the mailbag every week, in fact, I like reading all the articles that get published on the website. One of my favorite parts of the articles are the comments section. I like reading the armchair GMs and HCs reactions after every week. I would say most of them are too emotional to make it as a GM or HC. That being said, do you read the comments section on the articles? Do you walk away agreeing or shaking your head more afterwards? Thanks for all the articles, let's go Cardinals!"
I read most of them, especially to make sure there isn't spam or other issues. But the comment section here doesn't seem much different than most comment sections I see -- although if someone gets too far afield in one way or another, I'll kill out a comment here and there, It's still ultimately my playground to monitor.
From Richard Starke:
"Wondering if the Seahawks doctored their field. Too many Cardinals slipping to the turf in that game. I was saying to myself, you need to change your shoes. Maybe loose turf would have really buggered up Kyler if he played on it. How many times did Rondale go down on the grass. Then I read that Chandler changed his shoes. Good idea."
Chandler Jones' shoe situation came before the game and had nothing to do with the turf. And it wasn't loose turf -- it isn't grass there, it's FieldTurf. There were some slips, but I'm sure they were aware of what shoes they had on and whether it should be different. You better be careful how long the cleats are on turf -- you really don't want the shoe getting caught in turf. That's how knee injuries happen.
From Darrell B:
"Hey Darren, not a question but I noticed in the recent mailbag that you had mentioned to a fan in Denmark about what their Cardinals story means to them. That got me thinking about my Cardinals story. Despite living in Arizona all my life, I didn't start out a Cardinals fan. For me as a kid, my team was the Cowboys during the Troy Aikman/Emmitt Smith years (you can probably see where I'm going with this). When Smith signed with the Cardinals, that's when I changed 'my' team. I was excited that he was playing for my home state. It was the young rookie in Smith's second year with the Cardinals that kept me a Cardinals fan ever since. I wear my No. 11 jersey proud and being that it's the Thanksgiving season, I just want to say I'm thankful for all the years spent watching Fitz play. Although all good things must come to an end (who knows what Fitz's status really is) there is no denying the impact he made for the Cardinals as well as the NFL."
That's what I mean. Every person has their own story.
From Eric Smith:
"I heard during training camp that Kyler was lobbying for new uniforms. Has there been any discussion within the organization that the team might revert back to the retro uniforms of the 1980s? I think they'd look great."
I have not heard any uniform chatter.
From Stephen Grange:
"It distresses me to see my fellow fans quit on important issues. I for one REFUSE to leave any bone unchewed. So, with all that being stated, here is my question that too many have let drift.... what's the latest on Daryl Washington being reinstated? Thanks."
Always good to get this out of the way during the bye week.