The team has moved back home at the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center for the balance of preseason. After a rough game last week, the Cards play their first preseason road game Saturday in Minnesota. I'm sure there are some questions. As always, you can click here to send in a question for next week's mailbag.
From Austin Ratliff via azcardinals.com:
"Do you think that (Thursday's) performance will hurt or help the Cards as a team? How about Kyler Murray? Do you think that it will help or hurt his overall development?"
The poor outing against the Raiders wasn't a good look for Murray or anyone else with the starters. There are issues to address. But for the same reason no one should've handed Murray the MVP trophy after the Chargers game, no one should be looking to bench him after the Raiders game. It's a preseason game. The reality was the Raiders did some things defensively that the Cardinals and Murray were not prepared for, because it was a preseason game. Honestly, I think a game like that can help Murray, which he himself noted. He knows what it's liked to be smacked around on the field now.
As for the Cardinals as a team, anytime you can be forcefed that kind of adversity and not have it impact the standings I think can only be good. Whether it exposed fatal flaws in the 2019 team is TBD. But I do not think you can make any absolute judgments.
From Jerry Brown via azcardinals.com:
"How would you rate the chances of these players making the final 53: Sherfield, Hills and Wilson?"
At this point, I believe Sherfield will be on this team. I think Hills and Wilson are likely practice-squad candidates, although both should get a lot of playing time in the final preseason game to try and move the needle.
There will be an opportunity, yes. And sitting with the first waiver claim is important. But a couple of things to remember. One, waivers only applies to players with less than four accrued NFL seasons -- in other words, a name veteran will likely be an unrestricted free agent and free to sign with whatever team he chooses. Maybe the Cards can get him, but maybe not. So you are left not only with younger players, but again, guys who could not make a 53-man roster. You might get some depth. You aren't finding starters that way. At least, not usually.
Earlier in camp, Jalen Thompson seemed to have moved ahead of Deionte Thompson, but it looks like Deionte has rallied of late. At this point, I think both of them make the roster, but again, there is still a chunk of time left where decisions could change.
From Andrew Miller via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, when did the phrase 'position room' become so popular? I do not recall hearing it so often before this offseason. Not trying to be cute, but are there actual rooms for the various positions or is it more of an idiom?"
I can't say I've noticed any increase, but when you're in the middle of it, things can get lost in the day-to-day. But yes, there are actual rooms. In the Cards' training facility, there is one main auditorium where the whole team (or staff, for a staff meeting) can listen to an all-encompassing message, but each position does have its own separate meeting room so the position coaches can work on specific breakdowns and teaching.
I'd think they'd consider it heavily. But it'll depend on who is out there. Depends on how well they think Byron Murphy and Chris Jones are developing. Week One is a big deal -- they have flexibility to cut a veteran if they sign him after Week One (and he doesn't work out.) Any veteran on the roster Week One, his salary is guaranteed for the year.
From Steve Drumm via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren, the Cardinals have had more open practices to the public this preseason than in recent past thanks to Michael Bidwill's desire to get the fan base excited again. Since the team is installing a new Air Raid offense that everyone is curious to see, including the national media, does the team take into account the possibility of being spied on by another team during these open practices?"
First, it is against NFL rules for representatives from other teams to attend practices and spy. I understand there are times when that could be tough to enforce, but it is a rule. Also, the Cardinals, like any team, are acutely aware of all the eyes on their work during open practices. I feel confident in saying that take that into account.
One reception isn't going to change things significantly. There is still work to be done by a rookie who missed a chunk of practices.
From Guilherme Rafael via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, big Cardinals fan from Brasil. I think you do an amazing job, especially with the mailbag! Now, do you think this is indeed Larry's final season, or if Kyler develops quickly and the Cards are a contender next year would he come back?"
I have given up on trying to guess when Larry is going to hang it up (no, it doesn't mean I or someone else won't or shouldn't ask the question at times.) He's not lying when he says he's year-to-year. But I do believe that if this offense turns into what Kliff Kingsbury thinks it can be, Fitz will have a big part and his numbers will jump again. If that's the case, why would he walk away? The contender thing isn't as big of a deal -- one of the reasons he didn't want to walk away after last year was because the Cardinals were so bad and he didn't want that to be what his final season was about.
Not right now. The Cardinals keep looking for help on the defensive line -- Adam Schefter reported they visited with veteran Clinton McDonald Monday, although there was not a deal either -- but with veterans at this point in the preseason, there are a lot of moving pieces. There is usually a reason they are unsigned. Could be money. Could be health. Could be fit.
From Josh Miramontes via azcardinals.com:
"Supporting our dirty birds while I'm deployed. I know there have been plenty of the young players impressing us with their physical skills. But who has impressed you most knowledge-wise? Such as their grasp of the system and really taking the time to pick the brains of veteran players. I really hope the wideouts realize how lucky they are to still have Larry around."
First of all, thank you for your service. I think they are all pretty good already. Kyler's grasp of the offense certainly has helped his knowledge. He's ahead of the curve on that. But Zach Allen is a guy who asks questions, the receivers definitely know Fitz can help -- and Fitz seems to have taken Isabella under his wing in particular -- and I just think that overall, the front office's evaluation process to focus on passionate-about-the-game players manifests itself in that regard.
To answer the question, no.
They played a terrible preseason game. They did OK in the first one. I think it's fair to wonder about the physicality of what this offense will produce. But I don't know about "can't be stopped" attitude. You have to have the right mindset, but this isn't high school either. This level is about players and talent, and then scheme. The rest tends to fall into place.
From Kyler numero uno via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, more of a report than a question, since I know you don't have time to watch every single player. I've been to two practices and have noticed a standout: UDFA rookie DL Miles Brown. That kid is good. Both in individual drills and during 11v11, he very consistently wins. And with out loss of depth on the DL recently, we'll need him. Just wanted to give a shout out to a youngin' who has been dominating in camp."
I'll be honest, I haven't noticed him as much as you, although as you note, I can't watch everything. Clearly with the defensive line, they can use bodies. You might be on to something.
I'll leave it to each person to decide what is rational and what is not. This is the 20th preseason I have covered. Sometimes it serves -- with the benefit of hindsight -- as a harbinger of what's to come. Often, it doesn't have much at all to do with the season to come. I don't know how this is going to play out, or how much more offensively will be used to impact results. I do agree on one thing, though, and that is there weren't a bunch of people upset with this offense or Murray last week.