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You've Got Mail: Cowboys Week

Topics include Jones injury, the ticking playclock, and Patrick Peterson

Kenyan Drake runs against Jets Mailbag 1013

The Cardinals snapped a two-game losing streak just in time for "Monday Night Football" against the Cowboys, in Kyler Murray's return to the city in which he grew up. In the meantime, the Cards are dealing with Chandler Jones' injury. As always, you can leave a question for a future mailbag here.

From Jerry Brown via

"Did Isaiah Simmons get any snaps (against the Jets) and, if so, at what position(s)? Also, who is likely to replace Chandler?"

Isaiah Simmons played 13 of 69 defensive snaps. I did not see him at any place but linebacker. As far as Jones' replacement, unless they find someone on the street, I am guessing it will be a combination of Reddick, Gardeck and Fitts. Right now, I don't see Simmons as the starter, although they may continue to use him once in a while on the edge.

From Dhruvraj Parmar via

"Hey Darren, three questions. 1] Where is Chandler Jones? (This question is coming in before the Jets week, so if he gets to Flacco you might as well discard this). 2] Do you think this team has the potential to reach the playoffs? 3] Which current Cardinals player/unit do you think is performing most under expectations? Thank for the mailbag, Go Cards from New Jersey."

Oh Dhruvraj. Did you jinx Chandler? (Just kidding. I don't believe in jinxes.) I know many were frustrated that Jones didn't have more sacks, but this may be a be-careful-what-you-wish-for scenario, because I'm pretty sure it's not good to lose your best pass rusher. Given the expanded playoffs, yes, it has that potential, but with Jones down, I think the offense is going to have to play at an extremely high level to get there. As far as expectations? There are some choices. I thought the offense as a whole was going to be humming all the time by now. I thought Kenyan Drake was going to have a monster year. I think the offensive ups and downs have affected a few guys, Drake included.

From Val Jones via

"Listening to the postgame show (Sunday), one of the guys (perhaps Bertrand Berry?) said that pass rusher is the one job in the NFL where you can put a raw athlete out there and just tell him to go. This seems like the PERFECT opportunity to get Simmons involved. And they must get him involved. This is so bad how things are going. At this point he's barely even getting rookie reps. He's destined to be a bust by virtue of no playing time."

As I noted earlier, I don't see him being the No. 1 choice to replace Jones. I'd also have to note that any reps he gets are rookie reps. By definition, that's true. And this hyperbole of "destined to be a bust" comes across so poorly. Again, it's five games. And yes, if it's 10 games and he continues to get 10-15 reps a game, I'll say the same. If he's playing 10 to 15 reps this time next year, feel free to bring it back out. Now, not so much.

From Raine Voights via

"Dennis Gardeck obviously had a great game on Sunday, however this leads to a lot of questions. Will he be a starter from now on? Is being an outside rushing linebacker his natural position? And the commentators I was listening too kept on talking about what a great story Gardeck has. Can you summarize his story or is there already an article/story written about him?"

Why, yes, there is a fantastic story about how he got here. I don't know if he will start; I think they are going to play mix-and-match depending on the situation. As a matter of fact, coming off the edge is his natural spot; he was actually an undersized defensive end in college. The Cardinals tried him the last two years on the inside because of his size, but with the influx of so many inside linebackers this offseason, moved him outside. I don't know if Gardeck is every going to be exactly what you want out there for 40 or 50 snaps a game. But the dude is going to bring everything he has whenever and wherever you ask him to do so.

From Preston Van Buren via

"Hello, greetings from the FDNF-J in Yokosuka, Japan. Any chance the Cardinals sign a new safety? Seems like we may have had a lot better options in FA than starting a sixth-string practice squad player vs the Panthers. It will be good to have Baker and J Thompson back, but even then some depth behind those starting two would be nice."

I don't see them signing a safety, not with those two and Banjo coming soon. There won't be a need any more. They are also trying to see how Deionte Thompson could work long-term. Besides, I'd think outside linebacker will end up more pressing at the moment.

From @EdBurmila via Twitter:

"What happened in the second half on Sunday that Kenyan Drake started running like, for lack of a better term, old Kenyan Drake? All season he's been doing a lot of dancing, and then suddenly he came out running hard off one cut. Glad to see it, just curious what may have inspired it."

Kliff Kingsbury was actually asked about it on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station. "He's a guy who is so explosive he just wants to hit the home run with every touch. There were a couple times we felt like he could've stuck it up in there and got 4 or 5 (yards) instead of stringing it out. He understands that. He's trying to be one of the top backs in the league and you can't hit a home run every play. I thought he came back and finished the game strong like he has over and over for us. Ran really tough at the end of the game."

From @DavidOnSports via Twitter:

"Are Drake and Edmonds the long-term answer at running back?"

I think for the Cardinals, running back is probably going to be year to year for the most part. So saying anything is long term probably doesn't make sense. It's where the league is going at the position for a lot of players. Edmonds has looked very good this year, and he's under contract in 2021. They have Eno Benjamin. And with Drake a free agent, I think that's wait-and-see.

From BDUB Wooten via

"Darren, This may be a late question and odd one but early in the Carolina game, when the Panthers went for it on fourth down, the play clock went to zero for a good second-and-a-half before Bridgewater snapped the ball. I mean on TV it was painfully obvious like a crazy late snap but the refs did not blow the whistle. I'm wondering if you caught that too but more importantly why did the Cards bench not see it and challenge if it can be challenged?"

I believe it can be challenged, but that is always a long shot because the official looking right at the play clock has already decided it wasn't a penalty and I'm not sure how you would get them to change it. I know that officials are taught to essentially build in a bit of padding -- it's not a flag as soon as it hits zero, essentially. The other problem: You are watching the TV playclock, and you don't know if that is exactly lined up with the playclock on the field. (I watched the play on the coaches film but you cannot see the playclock.) I would guess if it was that egregious, the Cardinals would've been a lot more upset. One more fun fact about that play: The Panthers screwed it up, and you can see on the replay. Bridgewater bailed them out and it probably helped fool the defense.

From Joe Cardea via

"Darren, thanks for listening! I'm still trying to grasp a couple things about our defense. I take it our outside linebackers are almost hybrid D-linemen? In other words, smaller more agile players, Reddick, Simmons, DWash are inside 'backers? Ideally anyway. I grew up with the 1970s Rams and I think of Isaiah Robertson as a prototype OLB, lean and fast. Do I have that wrong?"

The Rams in the 1970s, as most teams did, played a 4-3 alignment. So you had four defensive lineman in front of three linebackers -- usually a run stuffer at middle linebacker, and then the more agile guys outside. The Cards are officially a 3-4 defense, but when they go to packages, often it is two defensive linemen and then two outside linebackers on the edge, looking like defensive ends in the alignment.

From ASU SunDevils via

"Hi Darren. Any big reason why Eno Benjamin is inactive every week? I understand the third-string running back needs to contribute on special teams, and so I can only assume he does not and that's why he's inactive. The assumption in that Drake probably walks next year and Edmonds is promoted to No. 1 RB (which he kinda already shares starter reps at this point). So we will need a new No. 2 RB. Do you think that could be Eno?"

First, ASU, I have to ask -- why not a name? I've never understood why, for the mailbag, people are so shy to at least give a first name? So many pseudonyms. But I digress. Yes, it's because he does not play special teams as well as, in this case, Jonathan Ward. As for the future, you figure there is a reason they are keeping around a guy and let him take up a roster spot even though he is inactive all the time. We will see how next year plays out, but yes, I think he can be in that mix.

From Bruge via

"Hi Darren, What happened with Terrell Suggs last year? He started 13 games, and I understand he wasn't his world beating young self, but it was strange to me that he was released. You generally don't release guys for no good reason. Given it was a lost season, it wasn't as if we needed his roster spot for someone else. So what happened? For the record I was thrilled that he linked up with KC and got a ring. Always been a big Suggs fan, so that just felt like the universe rewarding a good guy."

Ultimately, on a team going nowhere and for a player who wasn't going to be back in 2020, it made some sense to move on from him and give him a chance to hook on elsewhere. If he stays, you are basically obligated to keep playing him, and at that point, he wasn't fitting in well enough to make keeping him make sense.

From Chad Ireland via

"Hello from Queensland, Australia, Darren! I'm wondering why the offence is struggling to go north and south and keeps reverting to east and west with Screens and quick outs. Is there a confidence or ability issue with K1 throwing intermediate/deep? Are the receivers not getting open enough? The screen passes against the Panthers were not working but Coach Kingsbury seemed to all but stick with them."

Love that the guy named Ireland is in Australia. This question came before the Jets game, and obviously the Cards tweaked some things. In the end, there are a lot of horizontal and shorter passes in the K2 playbook -- that's his background, and that's to try and get the ball quickly to playmakers in space so they can gain a bunch of YAC. I don't think it's ever about Kyler's ability, and he certainly doesn't have a confidence issue. I think that day, they had a clunker all around.

From Micheal Watts via

"Hey bud, I have not dropped a question in awhile and I know this is late but I wanted to ask this to see what you think. How beneficial do you think it is for teams like us to for these 10 a.m. games to maybe travel a day earlier than intended to get a day in on the time zone switch maybe sluggish won't be the highlight of the articles coming out?"

Well, they already do that. The Cardinals leave on Friday for Sunday 10 a.m. games and have done it that way for a number of years. So they left on Friday for Carolina and New York, and will likely do the same for the New England and New York games later this season.

From Brian Signet via

"Hey Darren, why can't Charles Washington get any love on defense? Seems like when he gets a chance he does really well (as he showed against Carolina) but for some reason can't seem to climb the depth chart and doesn't even really get mentioned as an option with all the injuries to the secondary. I know he's a special teams ace but he's proven before he can play the position with Detroit so what am I missing?"

I think Washington had a couple of flashes against Carolina, but the coaches have watched Washington play defense for over a year now. They probably have a pretty good idea what they have in Washington and the rest of the safeties. That's the proof they are working with.

From Dominick Kelly via

"If there's one thing that's stuck out to me this season, it's Isaiah Simmons, or the lack thereof. I'll explain why, and really I just want your thoughts. You seem to believe that the team is being truthful about wanting to bring him along slowly. I was calm through the first few weeks but (Carolina) was quite frustrating. We've played three of the top seven draft picks and all have made a mark. Chase Young looked really good until he got banged up against us. Okudah had an interception. Derrick Brown even made a couple plays in the backfield. So when a fan watches all that, and then watches Curtis Riley play far more after the coaching staff 'looked into Isaiah playing safety' (which he did quite well in college, albeit a different game) and also watched Kylie Fitts at OLB while Isaiah plays spectator you have to wonder, what really is the problem?"

Who says there is a problem? You're right, I believe they are being truthful about wanting to bring him along slowly. I believe they don't want to play him at safety, not beyond a package or two. I mean, everyone can keep making the same points; I'm not sure where it's getting anyone. I get it. Fans want to see him play. They have determined, at least for now at safety, that it doesn't make sense. Things may change for Simmons with Jones out. They may have to change. And I think there is a chance by season's end we will see a lot more of him.

From Sebastian Quiros via

"Hey Darren. Big fan of this mailbag. I would like your take on this. And yes, it has to do with Isaiah but, in a more peaceful way. I fully appreciate that the Cards want to help him develop as much as possible. But I feel like they may have a little trauma with Haason. I'd like the Cards to find a bit more of a balance between not giving him too much but also playing him more so that he can get more and more game experience. What do you think of this?"

Honestly, I wonder sometimes if the Reddick "trauma" isn't with the fan base. I get it. I agree with Steve Keim that a player needs to play to get better. But let's say you are Vance Joseph, and with what you've seen, you aren't comfortable having Simmons out there a lot more than he is right now, and you feel if he is, the mistakes on the fly will hurt your defense. That's why you are in charge, to make those calls. (And for those who want to pipe up about Joseph's job status, that just proves the point -- there will be people unhappy no matter what, so you might as well make the decisions you feel are right. If you are wrong, it'll make itself apparent soon enough.)

From Don Weth via

"When are you going to get Larry Fitzgerald more involved in the offense? I'm sure he didn't come back another year just to block and run routes each game! He still has skills, and should be treated with more respect."

I appreciate it, Don, that you feel I have that kind of power. And I treat Fitz with the utmost respect. (Granted, this question was before the Jets game. They looked for him a lot more.)

From Bill Thompson via

"My question regards Patrick Peterson. I will ask the same one that I asked last week, but didn't see published or of course answered. Am I the only who thinks that P2 is not performing up to the standards that are expected of him? Yes, I know that he got an interception against Carolina, but he is still getting beat off the ball. I think that he is playing too deep and not jamming the WRs off the line. After the game and during the game as well, I saw him laughing and joking with Panther players. I guess I'm 'old school.' I've got nothing to say after you ate my lunch. The only thing that makes me smile are WINS!"

You must just hate Fitz then, who has been talking to opponents after wins and losses for a few years now. Again, criticizing play I understand. And there have been times where Peterson has not played well this season. But the whole hate-everybody thing is old school. P2 was not that way when the team won or when he was All-Pro. His personality isn't going to change now, and if you think that's why he has had some missteps, I'm going to have to disagree.

From Justin S via

"Thanks for the mailbag. I know this may seem far-fetched and unrealistic. Patrick Peterson has been one of the best players on the team. That being said he is going to want a hefty extension, which the last little while (last year and some of this year) has not necessarily warranted that. We need a pass rusher next to Chandler Jones. If Pat P can't come to a contract agreement trade him to Houston for JJ Watt who doesn't want to stay there."

This came before the Jones injury, but still, I don't see that happening for a few reasons. Peterson remains this team's No. 1 cornerback. Watt's issues in Houston may have had more to do with Bill O'Brien. I don't know what is going to happen with Patrick next year, but I think he's going to be around this year.

From Peter Kacmar via

"How do you feel about the 2020 draft class? I'm not talking about Simmons. I am sure he will be fine next year. but all the rest? I am aware of all the missed OTAs and preseason but still it seems pretty poor after these first weeks. None of them are regularly playing. Do you expect anyone to become relevant within this season?"

I still think there is a chance we see some Josh Jones, and of course Simmons. Rashard Lawrence, although he's hurt now, was indeed regularly playing in the defensive line rotation. I think they are trying hard to get Leki Fotu there. I don't think we're going to see much Benjamin and/or Weaver unless there were injuries.

From Joey Cammiso via

"I want to know if the Cardinals are allowed to wear the black jerseys with the red pants and if that is allowed why haven't they done it. It would look great. Don't believe me, go get Madden!"

I couldn't resist.