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You've Got Mail: Cowboys Week, And The Preseason Returns

Topics include Rondale Moore's persona, Simmons' role and preseason offense

Mailbag 081021

And we have a game week. Thank goodness. We also have a mailbag, of course. Before we get going, a quick thanks to SW for apologizing to me for calling me Daryl. As always, send in a question for a future mailbag right here.

From Mike Day:

"Darren. Any predictions for the preseason offense? It's funny, two years ago the O showed nothing in the preseason because it was suppose to be this big revolutionary thing. Embarrassing in hindsight. Last year we had no preseason. So what's the call in 2021? That article you posted was full of the offensive presnap penalties seems to say the O needs as much reps as they can get. Just run the normal offense and dial it in. We don't want another Game 1 where nobody knows the playbook while the live rounds are flying."

I predict the offense will be as vanilla in the preseason as always, as any other team. That's how things are done these days across the league. I understand what you are saying, but with the presnap penalties, for instance, that's about discipline and the snap count, not about the plays themselves. We won't see much from the offense, just like you won't see much from the offense of the Cowboys, Chiefs and Saints.

From Alvin Sheridan:

"I feel like there is a lot of lip service going on with Vance Joseph talking about simplifying the defense and putting guys into positions to succeed. Meanwhile, Isaiah Simmons has to learn multiple positions. Zaven is an ILB and only plays ILB. Great. That's how it should be. But what about Simmons? That guy is getting seriously hamstrung early in his career. Very Reddick-like which would be a travesty. Reddick struggled for three years. Finally gets put at his natural position, and shocker, he's really good. Take a hike with this Swiss army knife nonsense. Put the guy at one spot and let him flourish. Otherwise he's destined to bust and it'll be the coaches' fault."

Apples and oranges to Reddick, right? Since they put Reddick at one spot -- it just wasn't the right spot. As for Simmons, I think he's having a pretty good camp despite this "nonsense." Honestly, part of the debate there is that one of the reasons he was drafted that high in the first place was the versatility. So if that goes away, I'm not sure why you'd pick him that high. Personally, I think Simmons can handle the "nonsense." And I really like the packages so far where he is on the field with Collins and Hicks at the same time.

From Cy Frederick:

"How do I feel about momentum? Well, that depends on mass and velocity. Good luck on finding a Kyle replacement, for now I will just stick to doing guest spots whenever you feel it needed. Question for this week. You guys have obviously had access to camp and there have even been a handful of days in which fans have been allowed. How come there hasn't been any videos coming out of camp? There have been a handful of Twitter clips and what not, but none of highlight compilations. Just curious as to why."

We posted a highlight video last week with a stuff from the first couple of weeks. But the reality is that daily highlight videos are super labor intensive, and given our needs with Flight Plan, the telecasts of the preseason games and social media, full highlight videos every day is logistically difficult. There is only so much time in the day.

From Garrin Seoltz:

"Why didn't they pay to keep Dan Arnold? I say pay loosely. His deal with Carolina is only two years, $6M. That's $3M each year. That's what Maxx and Kirk are making. I really like Maxx as a blocker, but he doesn't add any receiving threat. And I'd take Dan over Kirk given we've got plenty of receivers and almost no pass-threat tight ends. It would be great if Ross Travis can latch on -- 6'6 tight ends don't grow on trees."

I appreciate that you would take Arnold over Kirk, but they wouldn't. Also, I disagree that Maxx Williams can't be a threat. I don't think his actual fear factor for defenses is that different than Arnold, and he is a much better blocker. You are right, Arnold wasn't that expensive, but seeing that it took some cajoling from the Panthers just to get to that number (the Panthers released a video showing some of the negotiations), I don't think the Cards were out of line with what they saw as his value.

From Buzz Cisler:

"This is more of an opinion, searching for a response. I'm not sold on Kyler Murray. He's fun to watch, but so was Michael Vick. I just don't see him winning the big one. Too short. He'll have 30 to 35 balls batted back in his face a season. I think teams figured him out towards the end of the season. I think if they don't win this season, the Kingsbury experiment is done. Your thoughts?"

My first thought is you lose me as soon as you say "30 to 35 balls batted back in his face a season." He's had 32 in two seasons total, according to So that's just wrong to throw out there. I guess I'd wonder what it would take to sell you -- if you are saying he needs to be Mahomes, that's a pretty high bar most players won't clear. The Cardinals must find a way to adjust better in the season. Chase Edmonds said that himself. But I don't know what is going to happen ay the end of the season. It's too simple to say "if they don't win." I think there is nuance there, It'll depend on how they win or lose.

From Odie Olivier:

"Something occurred to me while listening to the radio and hearing how well Rondale Moore and A.J. Green are doing; and this is maybe this team doesn't have room for Larry? I understand the dismissive reaction to say 'Oh no, Larry will always have a place,' but If you step away and really observe the situation, maybe he doesn't. Assuming Moore locks down his role, our top three is set, with Kirk being a pretty darn good No. 4. They don't need Larry. Maybe they don't want Larry. I can absolute picture Keim wishing Larry doesn't come back, because that puts the team in a tough situation. They can't say no and keep face with the fans. But paying a No. 3 to No. 5 WR $10M is really bad business."

You are right, Fitz will have a role if he chooses to return. That's a given. Does it get complicated? Probably, and I have noted that before. If he returns I do not see him getting double-digit millions. What his price tag would be is a great question (and for all we know one of the reasons this remains in limbo.) Finally, make no mistake -- assuming health, Kirk is the No. 3. No matter what Moore does in preseason, I don't see that changing early in the season.

From Joachim Ploug:

"Hi Darren! Thanks for doing the mailbag. My questions relate to Kliff Kingsbury's use of DeAndre Hopkins in the offense. I know it's still early, but I was wondering, during these training camp practices, have you noticed more diversity in where DeAndre Hopkins lines up? Or is he still almost exclusively lining up on the left side of the formation? Have you noticed more pre-snap motion in our offense compared to the last two seasons with Kliff? I think it would be fascinating to hear more about Kliff's philosophical reasonings behind being more static in where he lines up his weapons, and especially a star receiver like Hopkins. My guess is that lining up in the same spot makes it easier to play with tempo, which he obviously wants to do. By doing that you lose some of the ability to move Hopkins around and find advantageous mismatches. What are your thoughts on that philosophical schism?"

I understand both stances. Ultimately, I lean toward flexibility, just because teams can eventually hone in on one thing. At the same time, Kliff's way has done damage, and it feels like it's some of the other stuff -- like penalties -- that derail the offense. I know this is a popular topic among the film-breakdown community out there in the Twitterverse. I haven't really seen Hop or pre-snap movement much, but here's the question -- open practices are over on Sunday, and the Cards still have three weeks before the regular season when practices will be closed. There is always the chance they are holding some things back.

From Dee D:

"You media have now had a little more time with Rondale Moore. Watched him in practice. Maybe seen him in the facility. Do you have any better handle on who he is and his personality yet? Unfair as it may be, first impressions he seemed unhappy. NFL dream just came true, and the dude is just morose. Some speculated he was homesick. Maybe just shy? Has he come out his shell a little bit since being around some more?"

I just think Rondale is a quiet, serious kid. I do not think he is homesick, and I don't think he's upset to be a Cardinal. Watch the whole thing here and I think you'll see the same.

From Robert Malicki:

"Coach/player interviews should be seen in their entirety for proper context. The recent one featuring Jordan Hicks was outstanding. He's a real cool dude, articulate, confident, classy. He makes me compare him to Denzel in mannerisms, smile, caginess and professionalism. I was disappointed in how the out-of-town media presented that interview. It was dishonest and unfair. As a Cardinal fan I want him on the team and don't count him out on keeping his job. He's a 'let the chips fall where they may' kind of guy, a leader."

Noted. Not that I have any control over that. Quick aside, I told Jordan about the Denzel comparisons. He admitted he hadn't heard that one before.

From Charles Hunt:

"Hey Darren, season-ticket holder and long time reader! My question is about Andy Isabella. When he was drafted Kliff Kingsbury said he loved the guy and he makes the team better now. But in two years he hasn't made much of an impact and I don't see him getting many opportunities. Was the Cards' scouting report completely wrong on him? What did they miss? How is he looking at camp?"

Isabella got off to a slow start in camp because he wasn't on the field due to Covid protocols. He's been fine after that, and has gotten a ton of opportunity because of all the receiver injuries. But the Cards have their top four receivers, with Moore getting in there, and so it's an uphill climb. I don't think Isabella is a natural pass catcher -- he's had to learn to catch with his hands -- and his size doesn't help when he's outside. His tremendous speed hasn't made up for what he hasn't been able to master. But I think Kingsbury still has faith in him that he'll get there. Preseason for him will be crucial.

From Sebastian Quiros:

"Hey Darren. I've seen a few articles where it's mentioned that Alford and Hop have been matching up often. My question is, has Byron been matching up frequently against Hop as well? Since both are the best we have at the position (and Hop in my opinion the best receiver in the league) I would guess they have matched up at least a few times. Then again, I get Byron is a slot CB and Hop tends to be lined up outside more often then not."

No. I have not noticed Murphy on Hopkins a ton. As good as Murphy has looked, I don't see him being a cornerback who travels. And since Hopkins usually is on the left side of the formation, that is Alford territory right now.

From Mackay Breivik:

"Darren, last time I submitted a 'submission' I guess there was no question attached, and your response seemed to acknowledge that, to put it nicely. Maybe you could call your bag the DU-bag... :) I am always so excited about the beginning of every season, but find myself worried for this season. Personnel is what it is, and I feel like coaching is what we lack. Will you please personally let Kliff know about my concern? I feel like once he finds out I am worried this will cause him to rethink his entire strategy. Lastly, I am an out-of-state fan who is flying in for a game (not yet purchased) in Oct-Nov and am hoping you can offer some advice for what to do to maximize this visit, and where I can send Kliff my notes for gameplan changes. They're valuable."

Well gosh, with you coming as close as possible to rip me how could I say no? I mean, just the other day Kliff was wondering aloud if there might be a fan who does not live in Arizona with whom he could consult about the game plan. This is most excellent timing. I'll see what I can do.

From William Daniels:

"Is Eno going to get playing time this year? I don't see why he can't be the third RB. Jonathan Ward is arguably more redundant of Chase/Conner. Eno gives you some zip and wiggle. He's Rondale Moorish at the RB position."

Is he going to get playing time? It'll be difficult if Edmonds and Conner stay healthy. As for Ward, I like how he looks when I see him carry the ball. I don't know if I'd call him redundant. I do know it's a battle for that third spot and just handing it to Eno because he's a fan favorite isn't going to happen. That said, Kingsbury praised Benjamin the other day, so that's a good sign. But on the first depth chart, Ward is ahead of Benjamin, for whatever that is worth.

From Billie E:

"What does Rolando Cantu do in 'International Business Ventures?' Was that scrubbed Mexico game his baby? I wish we can get that back. That will be fun."

While I'm sure Rolando got involved on some level with the Mexico game, that was strictly a league decision coupled with conversations with ownership. There are no games in Mexico this season because of Covid; hopefully it will be rescheduled at some point. As for Ro's job, much of it is working with partners in Mexico building the brand in that country.

From Kenneth Ray:

"With the Olympics winding down what are the chances that Mr. Keim brings in Devon Allen for a tryout at WR? I've heard Devon say that he wanted to pursue the Olympics and then the NFL. Great speed and hands at Brophy College Prep, same at Oregon before a knee injury. Go get him!"

This feels like an Olympic version of Donovan McNabb has a house in Chandler.

From Benny Lago:

"Hi Darren. Pretty much every clip I've seen from camp with the starters shows Zaven, Simmons, Hicks and Chandler as the starting linebackers. Far too much to say 'it's a package.' That clearly appears to be our base defense since it's nearly every clip. So with that said, does that mean Simmons is the OLB/Reddick role? I'm struggling to word this question correctly because it's not a question. Hicks and Zaven are obviously lined up at ILB, so it's not like we can have three ILBs. Simmons is obviously at OLB. So is there any news to break?"

I have seen that package on the field a lot. But I have also seen plenty of times with Hicks on the sideline, Simmons and Collins inside and Jones and Golden/Kennard outside. What is the "base" exactly I don't know. With Derrick Henry Week 1 maybe they want to be a little beefier in the middle. But I don't think there is any breaking news here.

From Mike Mashore:

"What is the status of Larry Fitzgerald, is he in camp and going through workout drills, will he play this year?"

Bless you Mike and your very straightforward question. No, Fitz is not in camp. I do not know if he will play.

From Armond Gauthier:

"What is such a mystery about Larry Fitzgerald's future? He already sold his home in Phoenix some time ago. Do you think that might be a clue?"

Only if Donovan McNabb bought it. Or Devon Allen.

From Bogey Chicken:

"Is Larry Fitzgerald becoming Darryl Washington Part 2? Do you think you'll have to respond to Fitz questions in the year 2027?"

God I hope not. I mean, if he stays silent that long, they will have put him in Canton in 2025 and he will have had to say something during his induction speech, right? RIGHT?