The Cardinals are on to a second preseason game after getting some good showing from rookies and young players, but now the Chiefs arrive for an ESPN game and you'd think the veterans might get a little more time (or, in Kyler's case, some time.) With this as the backdrop, on to the mailbag. To leave a question for a future mailbag, go here.
From Brad Cain:
"Hey Darren, how's it going? So I have to ask if you seen the tweet from Fitzgerald Sr? And what you think about the comments, I personally do believe in miracles (thank you Kurt Warner), do you think we'll be seeing another?"
I did see the tweet. No it does not mean much to me. With all due respect to Big Fitz, I'm not sure Larry is giving him that information specifically because he knows he might put it out there. And I remain of the belief that Fitz is done (although again, I'd really love him to provide clarity on it one way or the other.)
From Dre Cardinals Fan:
"Hello my friend, I am stoked for this Folktales series you got coming up. Looks really interesting. However, constructive criticism, 'The Coin That Didn't Flip' hardly deserves its own episode, hahaha. C'mon man, how are you going to fill that time? You got a physics expert who's going to discuss the spatial dynamics of a non-flipping in the coin in the air? Love the concept of the series. Here are some more ideas for future episodes:
- The 58-0 blowout vs Seattle.
- Dockett's three-sack Super Bowl. Never heard his thoughts on the game.
- Levi Brown! Good dude who received more hate than anyone in Cards history.
- Leaving NAU (I personally enjoy the stadium setup now, but NAU was a fun camp tradition)
- Get Carson to talk about getting obliterated by the Panthers in the NFCC game after such a good season."
Some interesting topics, but man, a lot of negatives there. I'll make you a deal -- you watch the Coin episode, and tell me if it really has no substance. I've seen the rough cut -- I think you'll be entertained.
From BDUB Wooten:
"Darren, should we be getting concerned now about Jordan Phillips? Pretty big contract, has done nothing since signing it. How serious was his injury last year? What is the injury this year? Do you know about his work ethic? Does he love football? Of course I'm not 'inside the ropes' but this is starting to feel like he got the decent contract and money and now he's no longer motivated."
I understand your feelings. The problem with the current injury is that we have no idea what it is, because Kliff Kingsbury isn't saying, so it's hard to get a handle on him being out and what it might mean. But after last year, it's a fair concern. I know Jordan has said repeatedly all the right things. Last year it was a bad hamstring. Maybe that is this. I don't know. But again, as Dave McGinnis used to say, the greatest ability is availability.
From Trent Lane:
"I would like to follow up on a topic I asked about a while back. I really don't understand the heat on Kingsbury at all. He took over a team that was painful to watch. As a season ticket holder it was depressing to drive 5.5 hours for that product. They have improved across the board, and Sean Kugler just mentioned how easy it is to communicate and coach with Kliff. He is growing and progressing, as expected. Fans who are upset about the collapse last year, I get it, I was disappointed as well. However, if you had told me two years prior to that we would even be in the hunt I would not have believed you. Culture, talent, and vision are starting to coalesce in my opinion, and I think Kingsbury will be there next year unless there is a monumental collapse. What say you?"
I will reiterate what I have said multiple times on the topic -- this situation is nuanced, and I think how Michael Bidwill evaluates this season will comes down to wins and losses yes, but also how the Cardinals arrive at those wins and losses. It does no good to sit here now and say how a change will happen if they don't make the playoffs period, or for some other reason. How do they look? How do they play? They could be a noticeably good team and just get swallowed up in the toughest division in football.
From Pablo Guizela:
"Are you surprised by how little Zaven and Isiah played? Not to beat a dead horse, but yes they are starters and you need to protect them but they are also rookie starters who need time on the field. And is there any concern about backup left tackle Josh Miles? Only one game but he got beat like a drum on speed rushes. Do you think the team is considering options or are we set with him as the backup?"
The two linebackers played into the second quarter, so no, I'm not surprised. Collins played a third of the defensive snaps, and let's not forget Simmons did play all of last year. He's not a rookie. I think the playing time will increase some, but it made sense to me how it played out. As for Miles, I didn't watch him specifically, but unfortunately I did notice some issues. That's what the preseason games are for, to see how the guys play under the lights. OL coach Sean Kugler called Miles his most improved player. I want to see more before punting that possibility.
From Dan Marks:
"You've been covering the team a long time. Let's say 'since' 2007. I'm sure you've heard plenty behind the scenes that isn't reportable (Thanks for the Sullivan/Q story on the podcast. I felt like I had heard that but couldn't source it). I feel like if you followed national media there would be storylines that are more than a little off the mark. NFL coverage is just a cacophony of people who know better, fans like me included, but if you, a person that is closer to the team than most, could make one thing clear to NFL fans worldwide, about this team, what would it be? I think I'm just bitter about national writers. Did you see this Odegard person claiming Kyler is only 7th in MVP odds?!? Unbelievable!"
Well you know Kyle. Of course going national would go to his head. I don't know if there is anything major. Obviously, if you are a national writer/reporter, or a talking head, you're not going to know things well. You can't. I'm the same way when looking at any other team from afar. There are a couple things that stick in my head. One is more football -- this offensive line was pretty decent by most metrics last year, and while it needed help (especially at center) people still love to talk about how "bad" the line is, and I don't think that's true at all. The other thing is that the organization remains cheap when it comes to football. I get that some fans get upset when players leave and/or don't get contract extensions. But the Cards aren't cheap. They are normal in cash outlay compared to the rest of the league. They have given proper big-money contract extensions to stars (Fitz x 2, Dockett, Campbell, Chandler, Patrick, Tyrann). We can talk about the decisions about the third contracts if we want and whether the team should move on or not, but they aren't doing things because they are cheap.
From Jack Hills:
"Hello Darren. Every year when my kids were young and we went to training camp in Flagstaff, my sons would pick a player to watch. They would choose based on their uniform, the older more worn and torn the better. Their favorite was undrafted Kwamie Lassiter. At the Red-White scrimmage Kwamie put on a show that helped him make the team. He was my favorite too. Now my sons live in Europe and want to know about Bernard Seikovits no. 43. Has he flashed at practice? Gotten any notice by coaches? What chance do you give Psycho? Thanks and can't wait for the new season to start."
Seikovits is going to be around, because of the international program he is in. But I think I can say pretty confidently he won't be on the active roster at this point. The question is do they put him on the regular practice squad, which would allow him to be "called up" this season, or do they just use the international exemption. In the one game he only played four snaps, so I do not think he's in the active roster mix. He's just too raw right now.
From Noelle Ivey:
"Hey Darren, I have a request. Could you please post an article once a week highlighting the PFF grades for whoever you find notable? Kyle use to do it. It was always nice. I was hoping you'd continue that little news bite, even if you in particular don't care for PFF much. Thanks very much."
That is my plan, although it probably won't be until the regular season. We have a replacement coming for Kyle soon, so that will make it easier to get back to more content.
From Ronnie Jones:
"Hi Urbz I'm not complaining about Vance at all. This is just idle chit chat. Wade Phillips is still available. You really can't find a more experienced, highly vetted DC than him. In the rhetorical scenario that the D isn't really doing it, do you think Wade would be a fairly top of the list candidate to step in? It's interesting that the Cardinals tried replicating the Rams model with the hiring of Kliff to be our McVay. Wade was McVay's DC and elder statesman. Cant do much better than to bring him here to serve the same role. Again, not attacking Vance. I hope he has a terrific year and proves to be one of the best DCs in the league. Thanks."
You do know McVay essentially fired Phillips though, right? I mean, I think Phillips is a good coach too, but it's odd that the argument that he did the same role for another team and then it doesn't work out ... again odd. I don't know what would happen, but I thought Vance did a nice job last year. You may just be doing idle chit chat, but it feels like the whole, "No offense, but ..." and then someone proceeds to very much offend.
From Blake Franklyn:
"On one of the early plays of the game the Cowboys hit a quick pass in the flats and Markus Golden got toasted. Not his fault because we know what he is. The team can't expect him to be able to cover that. Which is why I want to ask about Simmons moving to OLB? I'm not some armchair GM but Zaven and Hicks really feel like a better fit at ILB with Simmons being that outside/flats/seam guy. Can cover the flats and TEs and rush the edge. I hope so much we don't waste Simmons like we did Reddick. He just isn't built for the garbage man job like Zaven and Hicks."
I see what you are saying and the package when Hicks and Collins are together Simmons is often in that outside role. The fear would be Simmons being able to hold up on the edge. Could he do that? Would be difficult at his size, I'd think. (Also, please don't worry about the first play from scrimmage in the first preseason game. Thanks.)
From Peter Kacmar:
"Hello Darren. There was one situation during the Cowboys game I did not understand. Could you please try to explain? Less than two minutes to go, Cowboys in lead, Cards going for it one fourth-n-12 (weird call in my opinion) got flagged and sacked. However, the Cowboys did not decline the penalty which would mean turnover on downs and Cowboys ball. Instead it gave the Cards the chance to tie the game. I know no one really cares about the result of preseason games but I still got surprised. Thanks for any idea on this."
The flag was pre-snap. A false start on wide receiver Greg Dortch. The play was dead. It was never a sack.
From Paulie Papers:
"You know what's funny, there was this tall, athletic, light skin bald dude at practice and I spent the whole time thinking it was Jason Taylor. I was so excited. I was like, 'What's he doing here?! A quick review of the coaching staff when I got home, it was Rusty McKinney."
Yeah, Rusty isn't Jason Taylor. I told Rusty what you had said. You aren't the first. He actually was on the Dolphins coaching staff once upon a time and people wanted his autograph thinking he was Taylor.
From Tim From Phoenix:
"Darren: Are you surprised that Steve Keim hasn't done more in trades or free agency at this stage to add depth and talent at CB and TE? (Malcolm Butler seems like a good addition, but I at least had expected that we'd add another veteran there). Is it Larry's situation and money if he comes back? Is it that they feel set at the positions? Is it wait and see? Are they looking at trades?"
I kind of understand the tight end question, although since you sent it in they signed veteran Demetrius Harris. That feels like it might be wait and see. But at cornerback, they signed both Darqueze Dennard and Daryl Worley after Butler. So I'm not sure what other kind of veteran you are looking for -- those are the kinds of veterans that would be available now. Jalen Ramsey isn't coming on the market.
From Leo Pert:
"Are we going to see Kyler play at all this preseason? I'll be honest, I don't understand why he's getting the no-preseason superstar treatment. I've been to several camp practices and he's been hit or miss. It appears he needs reps. Quick passes, handoffs, anything to ensure he doesn't get hit. But he absolutely needs the reps because he's not a star yet."
He made the Pro Bowl so apparently someone thinks he's a star. Is he top five? Probably not. But I think it's a little over the top to say he's getting the no-preseason superstar treatment when he was held out of one game and even if he had played, it might've been, what, six plays? And if all you are doing is quick passes and handoffs, exactly what are you getting out of playing in the first place?
From Stephen Cedar:
"I don't know who the heck David Parry is, but man did he have a good game. With the injuries on the DL do you think he has a chance to stick? And moreover, as the designated refrigerator in the middle, is there any chance he could supplant Leki Fotu? All with a gran of salt, it was against fourth stringers. But good play is good play. The guy was a very impressive NT, moreso than I've seen out of Leki thus far."
Parry had his moments, but Fotu didn't even play so I'm not sure how you make the comparison. But no, Parry isn't making the team over Fotu. If you aren't one of those top six (maybe seven) defensive linemen, it's going to be tough to reach the 53.
From Val Brown:
"Green Bay says if Aaron still wants out after this season, they'll grant him a release/trade. Under the strict criteria of Kyler NOT taking the next step this season (important criteria otherwise you wouldn't answer this question) do you think THEN the Cards would entertain the possibility of trading for Aaron? Despite Kyler's early flashes, he has not in fact been particularly dominant yet. Yes, Aaron is 37. And also yes, Aaron is coming off an MVP year. Which is to say you'd rather have a 38-year-old MVP QB than a 24-year-old OK QB."
But this would be after this year, so you have no idea what Rodgers will play like. We will see what the Packers may or may not have said they would do -- and I don't think they committed to anything per se -- and besides, if Murray, in your words, is just OK, why would they want him in the trade? They're going to want picks, because they already have the quarterback they would use if they want to get rid of Rodgers.
From Mike Windgren:
"I'm a long time mailbag reader, but have never submitted a question. I've been a Cardinals fan since 1988. Love the mailbag especially during the offseason. My question is probably not a new one. Do you think it's possible or even probable Andy and Rondale both get significant playing time this year?"
Rondale will for sure. Andy Isabella is in a tough place, because he has missed so much time on the Covid list. Anything is possible when injuries can play a role. But if everyone is healthy, it will be difficult for Isabella to find snaps, I'd think.
From Reggie Jackson:
"What does 'working out players' entail? Specifically former team players. I guess I'm a big loyalty guy so hearing them make Josh Mauro or Corey Peters 'work out' rubs me the wrong way. You're going to make a former team captain audition? That bothers me. Medical checks are fine. But on field work to prove they are good at football? Bleh."
Well, since a guy can check out 100 percent medically fine but not be able to perform at a high enough level anymore -- especially someone like Peters, who is into his 30s and coming off a major injury -- I guess I'm stunned you wouldn't if you were in charge.
From Chris Minton:
"I have a crackpot Fitz theory. We'll get through training camp, preseason, and 16 games of the regular season with nothing being announced. On January 3, the team will announce a retirement ceremony for Fitz before the following week's finale against Seattle, which will happen to be for the NFC West title. The resulting crowd energy will carry the Cards to the win and the top seed in the NFC, and will give Larry Legend the sendoff he deserves."
I appreciate the use of crackpot here.
From Doug Chambers:
"Heard a rumor that Fitz is waiting to see the new Cardinals uniforms before he decides on his future. Can you confirm?"
Welp. There's your delay, people.