Kyler watch remains, and the Cardinals are headed to Cleveland this week. Right now, it's mailbag time. As always, questions may be edited for clarity. And don't forget to send a question for a future mailbag.
From J.J. Fowler:
"Darren, with news on a QB change this Sunday against the Browns, which looks like Kyler Murray if healthy or Clayton Tune (which fans have clamored for earlier), it will still be a tough game for either one. For I had a chance to watch the Seahawks-Browns game last Sunday...and let me tell you that Myles Garrett is a beast to handle (8.5 sacks for season) plus their secondary is really physical too."
I don't know if there are any matchups where you think 'This is a cakewalk." There shouldn't be. With either player, you're talking about playing a game when you haven't (although Tune did get some preseason work) in a road situation against a team that needs to win to stay in the division race. Tough assignment, but I'm guessing both guys want to play badly, so it won't matter to them.
From Dhruvraj Parmar:
"Hey Darren, thanks for the mailbag. Do you think tanking/rebuild strategies are worth it? Star players hate losing. Guys like Budda, Hopkins, presumably Kyler, Murphy, Marquise Brown would all want to play for contenders. Churn is understandable but not benching players who are visibly playing poorly for several games and immediately after game saying Dobbs is going to remain starter for next game is hard to hear as a fan. Also,, Coach keeps saying we are not in rebuild mode. If we are not in rebuild/tanking mode as coaches emphasize why not try and sign someone like Carson Wentz beginning of the season who at this point probably willing to be a temporary starter?"
First of all, I think all players hate losing. You don't get to this level being OK with it. The Cardinals, it is fair to say, are talent-deficient right now but they don't set out to lose. I do think teams need to reset at times and where the franchise sat at the end of Steve Keim's tenure demanded one, in my opinion. As far as signing a Wentz, I didn't hear anyone saying such things after four games. Joshua Dobbs is struggling mightily right now, but in the first month he was playing well. It's not like anyone has signed Wentz.
From David B:
"Why oh why is Gannon sticking with Dobbs? I almost gagged when I saw your post-game article titled "Gannon Still Confident in Joshua Dobbs after Cardinals Fall to Ravens." He's getting worse, not better."
To be honest, I was watching the sideline to see if Cayton Tune might go into the game. But you will get your wish, because either Clayton Tune or Kyler Murray will play QB Sunday, and your gag reflex can go back to normal.
From Dale Hatfield:
"Hi Darren, thanks for giving Cardinal fans a way to get your perspective. I have an opinion and then a question. I believe a happy, healthy Kyler Murray is still one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. The keys are HAPPY and HEALTHY. Now that he has a coach that he can respect and a new GM I think he can be happy. Anyway, to my question, I think the Cardinals have six draft picks in the first three rounds, two in the first round. Shouldn't the Cardinals keep Kyler and use the picks to get a really good left tackle, a really good edge rusher and a really good wide receiver? I know that on paper that looks easier than maybe it actually is, but the Cardinals will not just have pick options, but trade options as well."
In a vacuum, yes, that makes the most sense. You have your franchise QB, and you use all that draft capital to build around him. While I think they will need to add a receiver, I could see the premium picks going to both an OL or DL, or edge rusher and/or cornerback. You can find a receiver in the mid-rounds (especially in this class.) All that said, this is fluid. What does free agency bring to the roster? How does Kyler play down the stretch? What draft-day trades are out there to stockpile a few more picks, and who is on the board?
From Ben Simpson:
"How far away is James Conner? Is he running yet? What kind of workouts?"
Conner has to miss at least two more games, and then the Cardinals will have the option to open his practice window, just like they did for Kyler Murray. Whatever things he is doing to rehab are behind closed doors; I'd be surprised if he is running quite yet but again, we do not know (and I do not believe Jonathan Gannon would have any interest in giving specifics.
"Hi Darren. What the heck is going on with this team? Myjai Sanders getting cut, not cool, but fine. K'von Wallace getting cut is major red flags. He's a JG/Rallis guy. He came over with them from Philly. Ain't no way it's a professionalism or personal conflict issue. They know the guy, and vouched for him. As far as on-field performance, he was one of our best DBs. Really don't like that one."
From Jamie C
"Even with the return of Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson, I am perplexed (and disappointed) that we would waive K'Von Wallace, who at the time was our second-leading tackler. Wouldn't we want to keep him for depth, especially given the injuries we continue to suffer?"
Packaging the Wallace questions together here. I think the Cardinals were hoping to keep him on the practice squad if possible, and it was not when he was claimed by Tennessee. But I think whomever they let go they wanted to try and keep around. I don't know if it's anything sinister; he was playing because of the injuries to Budda and Jalen Thompson and both those guys returned. Garrett Williams can play some safety too, and others probably were better on special teams. As for the point he was a JG/Rallis guy ... yes, they knew him. And they likely had input into the decision.
From Tom Cowley:
"Hi Darren. I am very upbeat over the performance of the defense so far and most of those players. I cannot say the same for the offense and some of those players. What would you expect to see changed now with that side of the ball? Coaches, players, strategy, execution? The offense just does not seem to be on the same page."
I expect Kyler to come back. They need to play better, but the big change is Kyler coming back.
From Darrell from Pinetop:
"At this point it looks like the Cardinals are holding the No. 1 draft pick, but there's still half a season to go so things could change. The victory over Dallas feels like a lifetime ago; is there anything for fans to be hopeful about this far into the season?"
I do think, all things considered, this team battles harder than you'd think they would given their record. I think they have some rookies and young players (like Trey McBride) who are showing flashes of being building blocks of the roster. And there is the return of Kyler, which is the most interesting and important story there is.
From Steve Watt:
"Hi Darren. Logistical question here: Do football teams have to take two planes to away games -- one for players and one for equipment and personnel? I assume that's how it works but have always wanted to ask. If so, how much earlier does the equipment leave than the players in order for it to be all set up? Further, what is the home team responsible for providing to the visitors, if anything?"
Generally, no. The Cardinals' plane is big enough to handle players, staff and equipment. There are times when the team stays somewhere for a week (or maybe the L.A. trip) in which some of the equipment is trucked to the location. But the vast majority of the road trips, everything is on one plane. When the team lands at a city, the equipment staff goes directly to the visting stadium to set up while the players and the rest of the traveling party goes to the hotel. As for specifics of what the home team provides, I don't think it's much but I don't have that info.
From Kory West:
"Since somebody brought up the topic of the Ring of Honor (Dockett and Anquan), I would like to suggest a third and possibly even more deserving candidate: Karlos Dansby. I don't know if there's a more underappreciated top-tier performer in all of football as Los. I know he didn't spend a ton of time in AZ in total, but every second he was here, he was a heartbeat-of-the-team type guy. I've got immense love for Karlos and I think the fanbase does too. I can't imagine ownership doesn't also love Karlos and his contributions to this team."
Again, for me, any ROH talk right now starts and ends with Fitz. Beyond that it's wait-and-see. Dansby, Dockett and Boldin all can make a case. There are others. Where will Pat P fit, for instance? But again, the Fitz deal needs to be figured out.
From Rob S:
"Is it just me, or does it feel like the Cardinals are threading the needle of building culture while still losing? What's the perception from the inside? Kyler coming back to keep the locker room fighting to the end of the season seems like just the thing to keep threading that needle."
Inside feels like you can see from the outside. It's been impressive that they have stayed engaged even with losses. So yes, there is a threading of the needle. But Kyler coming back this week or next, probably, injects some life into that as well. This was always going to be a process that took some time.
From Jimmy Anderson:
"Hi Darren, there's been a lot of talk about the play that some call the 'tush push' (a term that don't think anyone is fond of) on whether or not it should be banned in the NFL. It's my understanding that you cannot pull a player forward, but it's OK to push a player. Is there some rationale in the rules as to why pulling is not OK but pushing is OK. Also, if we're going to do it, I'm surprised we don't see the push coming from the biggest/strongest player. Why not have Leki Fotu line up as a back and push the QB. It's a ridiculous play in my opinion."
The Cardinals ran it two straight times at the Baltimore 1 this past weekend; Dobbs was stuffed the first time and scored the second one. The idea you can push and not pull I don't understand either, although pushing a player was also prohibited up until 2005. I'm not a fan of it myself. As emotional as it was, I didn't like McBride's push TD against Baltimore either -- which wasn't a tush push but the same play.
From Tom Evans:
"What's going on with the Kei'Trel Clark situation? A healthy scratch? Look we understand that he's had an up and down past couple of weeks, but he's not been the worst cornerback on our roster. I'm not advocating for anyone to be benched, but it defies logic to bench Clark and keep Marco Wilson up. What is going on? Is this an off-field thing?"
Gannon said Clark will be back in the mix, but I just think they felt Clark was struggling and they have other players they want on the field. Obviously the coaching staff feels better with having Wilson out there over Clark for whatever reason -- whether it is who Wilson is covering or his experience or whatever.
From Clark Bath:
"I have a mini-rant. It bothers me when people say 'Trust the coaches, they know of they are doing.' Coaches judgement is not why Trey McBride put up the most productive day for an Arizona tight end in 34 years, it was due to Ertz going on IR. The Dobbs/Tune argument is moot. We ain't seeing Tune. But not because the coaches know what they are doing. It's because they've stuck to a decision and apparently nothing on earth can sway them from it. BA used to be like that, but BA was also a winner."
Clark, there was nothing mini about that. I get your frustration, and you sound like someone who is making decisions from far away with no consideration for nuance or details to which you aren't privy. That's understandable. But hey, no longer can you say you ain't seeing Tune! Well, there's at least a chance you can see him. Does that change your rant status?
From Elizabeth Ascencio:
"HOW do I find on the CARDS app which uniforms there are wearing at upcoming games?"
Every Friday I post an article with "Friday Before" in the headline and the information is in there, and we are working on a way to make it its own place. But safe to say white uniforms on road, red at home (except the Nov. 26 Rams game, when they will wear black.)
From Lee Tankersely:
"Just want to say thanks for the mailbag and all you do for us fans of the Cardinals. No questions here just an appreciation for the Big Red story. A little humor goes a long way these days. Thank you. Go D-Backs!"
I appreciate the kind words, Lee. The Birdnapping story was fun to do.