The Cardinals suffered a gut-punch loss Sunday, but have a chance to make up some of it against the first-place Bills at home this week. It's an important stretch, given that they have two games in five days (the Thursday night game in Seattle is right after.) As always, you can send questions in for future mailbags by going here.
From Jerry Brown via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, you mentioned that there wasn't much room for Chase Edmonds to run between the tackles (Sunday). Why do you think that was? Poor blocking? Poor playcalling? Both? I agree with Wolf that we need to get the run game going aside from K1. Any ideas?"
First of all, I don't have ideas. If I did, I'd be a coach, and get paid more than I am getting paid. Without having gone back to look at it completely, the Dolphins did a nice job clogging up the box the entire game. There were times it could've been blocked better -- Edmonds' failed 4th-and-1, for instance -- but sometimes, the other team makes the play. It felt like the Dolphins made a greater effort to try and shut down the conventional running game Sunday, and it may have cost them at times, not only when Murray kept it but also in the pass game. The Cards had 442 yards of offense, so it's hard to feel like the offense "struggled" in any way.
From Elijah Haley via azcardinals.com:
"Greetings from Buffalo, NY. Wondering what your thoughts are on the late game play-calling. Thinking the Edmonds run on 4th-and-inches that was stuffed, and the three plays preceding the long field-goal attempt on another fourth and short. Didn't like that we took the ball out of Kyler's hands on most of those plays. I was surprised to see so much jumbo formation in general, especially in those critical late game situations. The decision to kick the field goal was a little deja vu from the Seattle game. Given how much time was left, Kingsbury's aggressiveness and our defensive struggles I really thought we were going to go for it there and try to get the touchdown. Just wanted to hear your thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to do this every week!"
On the Edmonds stuff, in re-watching the play, if rookie Josh Jones -- playing as an extra lineman -- holds up at the point of attack, I think Edmonds makes the first down. Jones got pushed back and that greatly impacted the result. In terms of the other sequence, I mean, the plays they chose got them to third-and-1, and the third-and-1 play was a good call. It was open. Murray just threw the ball low. That play has worked to both Kirk and Fitz multiple times near the goal line for a TD. Would I have been surprised if he had decided to go for it on fourth down? No. At the same time, Gonzalez just made a 48-yarder kicking at the same goal posts to beat the Seahawks. I didn't have a problem with that decision (although I know some analytics did not like it at all.)
There are going to be times when a play doesn't work -- it doesn't always mean it was a bad decision or a bad play. You say keep it in Kyler's hands, and they did earlier in the game and it almost blew up in their face (the lucky pass interference heave when they smelled out Kyler's bootleg -- the offsetting penalties that then turned into Murray's 28-yard fourth-down run.)
From Michael Schmorr via azcardinals.com:
"If there was a game they needed Chris Streveler it was this one against Miami. Without Kenyan Drake able to pickup short yardage they could have used a bigger QB to push the pile and get a yard (or at least have teams think they could do that.) Why do you think they've abandoned that package entirely? I know they tried to run some trick plays off of it that didn't work KM can't push a pile (ironically the Dolphins did it against us to win the game.) Very frustrating game. I did like what I saw out of Bausby and Whittaker. They played better than Kevin Peterson."
I am not a huge fan of taking Kyler off the field for Streveler anyway, but especially in that situation. I get the idea that Streveler is beefier, but when the Saints take Brees out for Taysom Hill, it's because Brees isn't giving you any mobility. Murray scares the bejeezus out of opponents with his mobility. So I'm gonna disagree here.
From Wyatt Holland via azcardinals.com:
"It's so nice that we finally have a young, long-term franchise QB that it makes me think back to Jake Plummer. He seemed like our last real shot at one, nearly 20 years ago. Were you working in sports media yet back then? What happened with Jake? The fact the Rose Bowl hero was a Cardinal was amazing. I'd figure he'd thrive here, given hed have the longest leash of any QB ever. It didn't work out, and the fans still love him today. But he was tremendously talented. He did good things with Denver. So what happened?"
I was in sports media and in fact covered Jake's final three years as a Cardinal when I was a beat writer for the East Valley Tribune. And Plummer did thrive here for a while. They made the playoffs, he got a giant contract extension. But those last few years, he got banged up one year, the roster wasn't great, and the mistakes-to-big-plays ratio wasn't getting a lot better. By the time he left, I think both sides were ready for a fresh start. Mike Shanahan used him perfectly with the Broncos, and that helped too.
From Tate Mitchell via azcardinals.com:
"Can somebody please explain the Prince Amukamara situation? Three weeks ago Vance said Prince is ready to go. Guy has 113 career games at CB, even if he's bad (he's not bad, he's the best we got. How on earth do we run fourth- and fifth-string CBs out there? You know what happens when we do that? Exactly what happened. We got diced up by a rookie QB."
So I always find this interesting. If you have a player on the practice squad, and you are playing the fourth- and fifth-string guys, do you know what that makes the practice-squad guy? Sixth-string, at least in this case. I'm not trying to bag on Amukamara. I don't get to watch practice. But neither do you. So I'm not sure how you would know he is the "best we got." I appreciate people wanting the local guys like Prince and Eno to play, but there isn't some conspiracy when they don't play. It's because when the coaches have sorted it out on the practice field, they feel like other players are a better option. I mean, why wouldn't they play a guy they thought was better? Now, De'Vante Bausby didn't work, but they are looking at Johnathan Joseph now at some point too -- doesn't that also say how they feel about the situation?
From Drew Norlow via azcardinals.com:
"Now with Arizona legalizing recreational marijuana, does that mean the NFL will stop testing for it? You can't punish something that's 100% legal."
Well, a couple of points here. Actually, you *can* punish something that's legal, at least in this case. The Arizona law still allows employers to prohibit use of marijuana if they so choose. You just can't be arrested or go to jail. That's kind of a key point. But in terms of the NFL, they still test for weed but the level that triggers a positive test is much higher and players no longer can be suspended for it. If a player tests positive, the situation is reviewed by a panel of doctors to see if any treatment for the player might be needed.
From Raine Voights via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren, I don't want to be that fan that only looks at the negatives, but this loss looked a lot like 'the Cardinals of old' and by that I mean losing games that we should not lose. I know we were missing some key players on defense, but it seemed to me that Vance Joseph made no adjustments whatsoever."
It was not a good day for the defense. There is little argument there. I don't know about adjustments -- Vance doesn't talk until Thursday -- but I do think if you start stripping away your best personnel, yeah, it's going to start showing up negatively.
From Sebastian Quiros via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren. What are the rules or protocols for a player to get out of the COVID reserve list? How likely is it that we get Byron Murphy and Devon Kennard? Because they were missed."
Yes, they were definitely missed. Murphy especially has played well this season and they will need him against a very good passing team with the Bills. Kliff Kingsbury is hoping they will be cleared by Wednesday and able to return to practice.
From Mike In Gilbert via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren, thanks for the opportunity to get our questions answered. Appreciate your insights as always! In the 4th quarter, when Kyler scrambled and came up inches short of a first down, Kingsbury called a timeout. Why not challenge the spot, instead of taking a timeout there? A challenge is effectively a timeout, unless we win it -- in which case we preserve the actual timeout. Seemed worth a shot to me."
It wasn't asked but I can only assume it was because they didn't want to waste the challenge just in case they needed one later, and didn't think they could win. And watching the replay, they would not have won that challenge.
From Steve Drumm via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren. The Cardinals declined the option year for Haason Reddick, who is having a pretty good season so far. Is there a way the Cards could revisit that decision and keep Haason for another year or at least re-sign him or is he most likely playing his last season here in the desert?"
The option of the option is gone. But yes, they could still re-sign him. I don't know what is going to happen with Reddick. He will likely fall into that nebulous free-agent category where he is worth better than minimum salary but not a star-type deal, and those are the players who will be most affected by a drop in the salary cap. There is a very real chance for a roller-coaster of an offseason across the NFL -- "names" getting cut, and a scramble to make what you can make.
From Ed Shippen via azcardinals.com:
"The COVID-19 situation prevented Markus Golden from being able to play in the Seahawks game. My question to you is who pays his salary for that game? He was traded to Arizona but had to clear waivers. I hope somebody paid him. He is a good player to have on the Arizona Cardinals roster. Looking forward to seeing him in a Cardinal Uniform hunting down quarterbacks."
Actually, since Golden played on Thursday night for the Giants that week, he couldn't have played against the Seahawks even without COVID. But I would guess the Giants paid him for that week, and the Cardinals starting paying him at the bye week.
From Greg Danielson via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, I appreciate your time. I was just wondering, has Chandler Jones had his bicep surgery yet? If so, when? I know Chandler is out for the season, but if by the Cards make it deep into the playoffs, is it possible he could be healed enough to play, or by chance the Super Bowl (if we make it) or is that too much of a risk?"
Technically, Jones could return this season at some point if he is healthy enough. He has had his surgery. But I don't know what time line would make sense for him to return if at all. We wouldn't be just talking surgical healing but also time to get in shape.
From Logan Stanley via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, realistically, how much longer do you see Larry Fitzgerald sticking around chasing a ring? I hope the Cards can get it done for him, because if anyone in the league deserves one it's him. I just can't see him staying in the league more than a couple years. Also we know he loves to travel, but do you see him staying around the franchise as maybe a wide receivers coach? Thanks for your time!"
Fitz has zero interest in being a coach. At most, he'd want to get into ownership. (D-Hop is interested in the front office.) Mostly, he wants to be behind the scenes. As far as how much longer he'll play, I have no idea. He's having fun, mostly (although I'm sure he wishes he got more targets.) If they keep winning, make the playoffs, I could see him extending into 2021, although he has to get a new contract, etc.
From Nat Shirley via azcardinals.com:
"When the news broke that Markus Golden was returning to the Cardinals, it certainly brought a smile to my face. It led me to think, which player did the Cardinals let walk during free agency that you wished we re-signed? I know a lot of fans will probably immediately think the Honey Badger but for me I was very sad to see Tony Jefferson leave who was an UDFA who played at a high level for us."
Well, Tyrann wasn't a free agent. They released him. So while I didn't want to see him go, I don't think he would count in this discussion. But there have been a bunch of players who, on a personal level, I didn't want to see leave. But I understand the business. Golden. Jefferson. Calais Campbell. Steve Breaston.
From Duane Wisner via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, I'm curious why the defense, after recovering a fumble or getting a interception, has to run to the end zone to have their celebration? It seems strange when they run 60 plus yards to celebrate. Thank you, have a nice day!"
Well, of course they don't have to. But they have some fun with it and obviously, the NFL being a copycat league, they all copy it. Not a big deal to me. Gives them a moment to have some fun after a big play. It's what the league should be about.
From Chad Ireland via azcardinals.com:
"Hello again Darren! As a hypothetical, if you're KK at Texas Tech, who do you start/bench/cut with K1, Patrick Mahomes and Mayfield all on your team at once? Thanks for you time!"
I mean, are we talking about college years? Kyler was pretty darn amazing in college. I figure I don't have to worry about cutting, because as soon as I name my starter, the other two are gonna transfer anyway.