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You've Got Mail - Broncos Week

AZC_CardinalsMailbag

It's a short week, but the Cardinals get to come home to face Denver -- a team that also is struggling at this point. The issues with the Cards are about the same coming off the loss to the Vikings, so, as always, here are your questions (and as always, don't forget the link when you want to send in a question). As always, if I did not get to your question, I likely answered something else similar:

From Jason Beckum via azcardinals.com:

"What is the team doing to address the offensive line issues? We have trouble opening holes for David Johnson and maintaining blocks to protect Josh Rosen."

These are fair concerns. Right now, they are just trying to field a lineup. With Justin Pugh, Mike Iupati and backup Jeremy Vujnovich all ailing this week and a game on Thursday night, it's about finding healthy bodies. The offensive concerns extend all over the place. But yes, the offensive line has had its own issues. They face a Broncos team that isn't good against the run. The hope is those holes will show up for Johnson Thursday night.

From Daniel Martin del Campo via azcardinals.com:

"Darren, after all the unfortunate events, how do you feel the vibe of the guys in the locker room? Do you think there is a sense of urgency?"

I don't know if urgency is the right word, whether it is now or any other year. Given the rhythms of an NFL game week, once the team has moved on to the next game it's about prepping for that game, and the "vibe" never really feels much different in all the years I've covered the team. Now, in a down year, can you sense the end of the season coming once you get to, say early December? Maybe. But right now, the locker room isn't a whole lot different than it was in mid-October of 2015. These guys come to work and try and win that week.

1) No, there is no nervousness. Things happen. Players move on. There have been guys over the years I didn't want to see go, but the business is the business.

2) All of whatever rumors concerning the players you mention -- Peterson, Johnson, Fitz -- are goofy. I'm not saying high-profile players cannot be dealt, but I could easily come up with the list of concrete reasons none of that trio are going anywhere.

From Duane Schuman via azcardinals.com:

"Respectfully, this is a very frustrating season for us season ticket holders and fans. Over the years I have seen Steve Keim select a few great players in the draft and free-agent signings but for the vast majority he has mostly missed in his player evaluations and selections. With the poor draft history and free agent player evaluations as well as signing often injured players only to see them repeat the history of injuries, is Keim changing anything with his player evaluation process, including himself?"

I think it's fair to say Keim and the Cardinals have missed on some players. To say the "vast majority?" Don't know how you could say that. If it was that many, there's no way Bruce Arians would have been as successful as he was. Coaching is important, but players matter more, and while you want to be perfect in player acquisition, the Cardinals have been good enough up until now. As for the changes, Keim has said he is always tweaking the system to make sure it's better. Whether it produces results, we will have to see.

This is a great example of the different perspectives out there. The previous question basically said the roster has no talent. This question makes it sound that there is talent, just not in the right scheme.

First, no one has been traded yet and I'm not sure any players will be dealt. We'll see. In terms of schemes, the reality is, when you hire a new coach, he's probably going to want to put in the system that got him here. Ken Whisenhunt wanted to run first (until Kurt Warner's talent overwhelmed that idea). Bruce Arians wanted to put Fitz in the slot. Steve Wilks wants to run a defense that did pretty well in Carolina. It's a fair point that if the players don't work well in that spot to do something else. I think the Cardinals are trying to work through that now. It also underscores the difference between this situation and most new coaching situations -- usually, when a new coach comes in, it's because things had bottomed out and the old coach was fired. It's not usually coming off an injury-ravaged eight-win season where the coach retired yet there were things that were still going well.

From Calvin Emigh via azcardinals.com:

"A 1-5 record isn't something to write home about however, as a lifelong AZ Cards fan I've seen much worse (1990s). With a few less dropped passes and a few less missed tackles over the past weeks, the Cardinals are much better than their current record reflects. My question: Realistically, how many years does it take for a new coaching staff to build a well-rounded defensive and offensive NFL team?"

The reality is that teams have turned it around in the first season of a head coach. The Cardinals won 10 games in their first season. In this league, you don't get years. You get less than that. There needs to be progress. That doesn't mean everything can or should be perfect from jump, and every team is in a different place. And there can be a run-up to becoming, in your terms, "well-rounded." But again, you have to see progress. For the record, I agree that the Cardinals should be better than 1-5. If they had been able to finish against the Bears and Seahawks, the conversation would be markedly different.

From Michael Schmorr via azcardinals.com:

"I feel like we’ve been spoiled for years where you knew the Cardinal defense was going to stop the run. This has been the biggest issue this team has faced since day one. Do you think the current roster we have can ever regain run dominance with the current scheme or is it going to take a full overhaul?"

I don't know if it would take a full overhaul. I'm not altogether sure why the run defense has been so porous. I could understand if it took a step back from where it had been with a transition to a new style, but it shouldn't be like this.

From Matthew Walsh via azcardinals.com:

"Six games into the season, how would you rate the play of the fullback position? Bruce Arians was firmly against a fullback and opted for an extra tight end. I was curious how the running game this season compares to last around this same time?"

I think Derrick Coleman has been fine. I don't think, frankly, that using a fullback sometimes as opposed to another tight end is really much of an issue when you are talking about all the problems in the run game. As good as Ricky Seals-Jones is as a receiver, I think the Cardinals are still missing some things at tight end with he and Gabe Holmes as blockers.

From Bob Nielsen via azcardinals.com:

"Why would a defensive coach and a defensive coordinator change a defense that has worked for 10 years. Going from a 3-4 front man coverage defense that ran blitz to a 4-3 front zone?"

Because, as I noted earlier, they are a different staff. If I told you I wanted to hire you to do a job you'd been doing for 20 years, you had success in your previous jobs and you knew that was a big reason I was hiring you -- but then I told you you had to do the job the way the previous guy had done it (a way you had not done it in 20 years), how would you handle that?

From Kevin Campbell via azcardinals.com:

"I'm trying to remain civil, but how long can the media continue to ignore the inept offensive system used by Mike McCoy. ZERO third down conversions yet again. It's time to call a spade a spade and stop blaming the players. This is a scheme problem. The wrong first- and second-down plays are creating third down plays that are not converting. It's simply not working and something must be done."

I'm not sure why it would be difficult to be civil, to be honest. We're grown-ups here, right? Look, Steve Wilks acknowledged that McCoy and all the coaches could be in trouble if the Cardinals don't win. It hasn't been good offensively. I understand the complaints. And who knows, maybe change could come. But I'm curious what the response will be if there is change -- just what will the expectations be?

From Michael Tuckman via azcardinals.com:

"With the WR corps in shambles, what are your thoughts on trading for Amari Cooper is he is indeed on the block? And what would get it done, considering he is going into the final year of his rookie deal? Kirk has shown promise, but isn't a "traditional" #1 WR in terms of size, and we all know Larry is sadly leaving the game soon. With so many other holes to address (namely at 4 of 5 spots on the O-line), wouldnt it make sense to use some draft capital to trade for a WR and retain a first-round pick for O-line?"

I can't speak on Cooper specifically, but in terms of trading draft capital, I'm not sure dealing for any veteran at this point makes sense. Teams are looking to trade players for a reason. Veterans sometimes are looking for new contracts and/or coming up on free agency. If a guy is on the block, it's fair to wonder why. And in terms of the draft, it might make sense to save that pick and spend it on a receiver coming out of college.

From Joe Kreisheimer via azcardinals.com:

"Impossible question and I know you don’t know the answer, but do you get the feeling Fitz will retire at the end of this season?"

I don't really do feelings when it comes to this. Do I think there is a chance Fitz retires? Yes I do. I also believe he has not decided one way or the other, and if that's the case, no one else really knows either.

From Matthew Chadduck via azcardinals.com:

"Do you think any form of trade will come through in these last couple weeks before the deadline? The team is seriously struggling and it seems to me that we either needs a shot of something new, or should start posturing for next year."

Any form of trade is possible. But I don't think it's a lock by any stretch. Your logic is sound. But you don't want to make a trade just for a trade's sake. You need to make a deal if it is worth it.

From Doug Keller via azcardinals.com:

"What would be tougher on Rosen's development as a rookie QB? Staying in the stagnant offense we currently have and just riding it out or learning a brand-new offense mid-season if coaching changes are made?"

Here's the thing: If there is any change, there will not be a brand-new anything. Things might be approached a bit differently, or plays might be called differently, but the offense will be the same. You aren't changing that now.

I haven't heard much of any communication issues. I'm not sure why the consistency isn't there. The pass protection has been OK -- it looked worse in Minnesota, but to be honest, there were blitzes coming from everywhere for a time there. And when it comes to the run game, it's not just the OL -- they need better blocking from tight ends, and there are times when David Johnson needs to help the cause too in terms of hitting certain holes.

From Howard Berman via azcardinals.com:

"With the Cardinals offense not doing as well and the chance of them getting rid of the offensive coordinator, what would the chances be to have Larry Fitzgerald as the new offensive coordinator? Who knows the offensive better than he does, he is already on salary and the team would not have any additional salary to bring in someone from the outside. Not only that, he is a leader on and off the field. He is getting to the end of his playing career. The other part is that he could be groomed to become the head coach of the Cardinals in the future."

Not only do I never see Larry coaching -- ever -- but I don't think he has any interest in working for a team, period. Unless someday he could own one. (And just for accuracy's sake, you cannot be a player-coach. Violates the salary cap rules.

Why didn't I think of that. #FreeCapCapi.

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