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You've Got Mail: Cowboys Week

Topics include the fight to the finish, home-field advantage, and Garrett Williams

Mailbag Dobbs 091923

A rough home debut. Let's settle things down with a mailbag. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. You can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From Sebas Quiros:

"Hey Darren. What do you think the deal is with the late meltdowns? Both weeks dominating and having a comfortable lead, and then second half everything becomes quite gray. You think it's lack of concentration, lack of fitness, lack of adaptation to the opponents adjustments or what?"

From Jon Davis Lair:

"Do you know why it seemed liked the Cardinals fell asleep in the 2nd half? I watched most of the game and it just kinda seemed like they got distracted and the Giants just started rolling. Last year this would've felt like a signature loss, but wouldn't you think that the new JG Cardinals wouldn't make that kind of mistake?"

I thought I'd group these two together since they are so similar. I'll say that I don't think the Cardinals were "dominating" in Washington. They were playing excellent defense. I don't know exactly what happened against the Giants. I do think it was a combination of the complacency that Kyzir White brought up after the game, the Giants playing much better on offense, and a Cardinals defense that started to run out of gas at the end. I don't think the margin for error is great for this team so even when you are a plus-one in turnovers in games -- which the Cardinals have been each of the first two weeks -- you can still lose. Finishing is the next step for this new coaching staff.

From Kevin Mahon:

"Do you think other running backs should get more touches? I feel James Conner would benefit from some diversity to lighten his load over the course of the season. On another note, I feel a coaches true mettle is halftime adjustments. I remember thinking we could not see someone so lifeless and apathetic during a loss as Vince Tobin but apparently I am wrong. Well, if the Cardinals would've got a couple field goals in the second half and maybe stop them on one touchdown they would've pulled out a win."

I think it does have to factor in with how many touches you might want to give Conner over the season but at the same time, I don't know how much Keaontay Ingram can provide right now. He has struggled in the few touches he has had. I don't see things changing much for now. As for "halftime adjustments," I always wonder about what can be changed in 10 minutes. Do the Cardinals need to finish? Yes. And you are right, two more field goals or stopping the Giants from another touchdown would have indeed won them the game, either 34-31 or 28-24.

From Frank McCoy:

"There are a lot of well-paid quarterbacks that are paid to win games and they have talent around them and they still lost. So why are we upset that a bargain-basement quarterback had a bad game in Week 1?"

I'll be honest Frank, you need to ask "we" about that. I am guessing the anger is more about needing to already have found a better QB, although I'm not sure a lot of them are out there (or the Cardinals chased them in the spring and were turned down.)

From Luke Strauss:

"Hi Darren. Luke here from London, England. As someone who is more attuned to English football, I understand homefield advantage. In the NFL, fans aren't segregated like they are in the English Premier League. (Ed note: Fans are kept separate in European soccer in large part to prevent fights between fan bases.) My question is, what's the point of home-field advantage in the NFL if the majority of your stadium is packed with opposition fans? No wonder we struggle to win at home? Surely they can address this as a club and get to the bottom of this. Chiefs are rightly the best team in the NFL because Arrowhead is the hardest place in the NFL to go to and is filled with Chiefs fans. Or am I just not getting it? Thanks and keep up the great work as always."

Luke, it is a fair question but one without an easy answer. Or actually, there is an easy answer: money. Ultimately, any team wants to sell its tickets, and there is only so many ways you can guarantee they will be bought by fans of the home team. In the end, the organization -- any NFL team really -- wants to sell tickets. Fans, meanwhile, might want to own season tickets but see the ability to sell a game or two (or more) as a way to make up the money spent originally on the seats. Arizona is a destination place for fans -- especially in the winter -- as well.

From John McGill:

"Hey Darren. Thank you for what you do for us fans. Here is my sarcastic question: Was anyone saying the Giants are tanking the season to get Caleb Williams after getting blown out 40-0 by Dallas? No answer needed. My real question is about the penalties. They had over 100 yards in penalties in Week 1. Was that more on the offense or an aggressive defense?"

Looking back, 67 of the yards were defensive penalties of aggression on an early drive. They still had too many penalties against the Giants, but it only cost them 57 yards. There were too many pre-snap penalties against the offense against NY. Those are the ones you can't have.

From Brendan Cortney:

"Hi Darren, This is not a 'will the Cardinals draft Caleb Williams' question that you love so much. I just want to discuss the concept of a draftee pulling an 'Eli Manning'. To me, playing in the NFL is a privilege; not a right. Neither Eli Manning (nor his father Archie) are bad people. but that said, it greatly angers me off as a football fan (and sports fan in general), what he did to the Chargers. The reason that ancient history is being brought up is obviously because Caleb Williams' dad has made similar comments lately. I understand NIL money is nice, but it's not $40M guaranteed No. 1 overall pick nice. You would have to be an absolute imbecile to go back to school to avoid a team. So my question for you is this, if you were a GM, and some highly touted draft player was vocally refusing to go to a certain team, would you consider banning him from the NFL? I would. I highly doubt the No. 1 pick would ever do that ever again but the odds are not zero."

There's a lot here, Brendan, not the least of which being that the Chargers, in the end, did pretty well in that whole thing. I know they didn't win the Super Bowl, but most would consider Philip Rivers a better QB than Eli Manning at their peaks. As for banning someone, as a GM, you wouldn't have that power. I'm not sure the Commissioner would. It rarely comes up, in part because yes, you are potentially costing yourself a lot of money. There is little question if a player did that -- just like Manning, just like John Elway -- he would generate a lot of negative backlash. That's one of the factors involved. But if he wants to do that, and can deal with whatever consequences might come of it, not sure anyone can really do much about it.

From Juan de la Pena:

"Hi Darren. I'm getting tired of reading all the Cards fans saying 'IT'S PLAIN AND SIMPLE, coaches need to do this or that.' C'mon, the NFL is anything but PLAIN AND SIMPLE. That's why it's the best league in the world. Saying that, if Josh Dobbs doesn't keep showing improvement, do you think they play Clayton Tune? And is there news or an estimated return date for Murray?"

Dobbs has to keep it up but after his jump in play this week, I don't think Tune is an option anytime soon. As far as Murray, no, there is no (public) timetable. It's wait and see, although the questions are going to come weekly once his minimum four weeks on the PUP list are up on Oct. 2.

From Ron Flora:

"Hi Darren, I heard on the radio that we wore our all-reds on Sunday because the Giants have a white-and-blue color scheme. And next week as well, despite being at home, we will again wear our all-reds because the Cowboys have a similar white-and-blue color scheme. Since when does the road team dictate our uniforms? We want to wear our all-whites!"

I would love to know who would be saying this on the radio because it is false. Road teams don't dictate the uniforms, the home teams do -- which is why the Cardinals had to wear their all-red in Washington in the heat and humidity, so the Commanders could wear their lighter white jerseys. The Cardinals wore red last week, and will wear red again this week, because the red uniforms are the "home" uniforms and that was always the plan.

From Larry Phillips:

"Hi Darren. I was stunned when the Cardinals selected Garrett Williams with their first pick of the third round. He was coming off a serious injury and it is not like he was an All American from Georgia (He played against few really good teams at Syracuse). I expect a third-round pick for a team that won four games to contribute. Currently, Williams is still on the NFI list with very few updates from the team. I have no problem taking a flyer on an injured player in the sixth- or seventh-round but the third? This season seems like a bust and next will be like his rookie year. Do you have any updates on this player? Do you think that Monti Ossenfort will refrain from using high picks on injured players in the future? Thanks."

Williams continues to rehab and when I talked to him last week, he said he was happy with the way rehab was going. We're not going to get any specific timetables out of players or coaches, not under this regime. But bigger picture, I am trying to figure out why you or anyone would think Ossenfort would take a player at any point in the draft without having a good reason for it? Williams was a guy who might have gone bottom of the second round without the injury, and many had him slotted as third or early fourth even after the ACL tear -- so he went about where everyone figured. They didn't take him without fully passing him through medical; with today's medical advances, ACL tears stink but they aren't career-enders.

From SW:

"Darren, as always thanks for all you do for us Cardinal fans. Much appreciated. After watching the game against Washington, it seemed like the defense was doing a much better job of tackling than last year's team. Do you agree? No doubt some of that is personnel, but assuming you agree it's better, what is this team doing in training/scheming/something else that is different to improve the tackling so much? I'll take your answer off the air."

Appreciate the call as always, SW, and thanks for listening. I do think that right now, the fundamentals are better right now in a lot of areas, and tackling is one of them. I think some it prep work -- Nick Rallis and JG emphasize such things -- but some of it is the personnel too. They have collected a lot of defenders that seem to very much enjoy the physical nature of the game. Talent is important for every roster. It's the most important really. But want-to is crucial too.

From Mark from Pinetop:

"Can you check the numbers on Rondale Moore's catches on both bubble screens or jet sweeps. I think the numbers for negative yardage might be staggering. Do you agree for a second-round pick he's a bust unless the coaching staff starts moving him downfield? He has great hands and great speed. Do you agree Greg Dortch has made more impact plays all along?"

I don't have those stats available to me but I would not doubt those numbers have not been good over the years. But yes, I want to see Moore's downfield work more; he has been able to make some plays like that and I've long wanted to see more opportunity like that. As for Dortch, he always has been used differently than Rondale so I don't know if it's fair to make it apples to apples. I love the Dortch story, but it should be noted the current staff has kept him down the depth chart thus far.

From John Ingram:

"Really enjoy all your work with the Cardinals, Darren. I may have missed it, but was any explanation ever given regarding the health issues that Steve Keim was facing that led to his resignation. The timing seemed very convenient in avoiding a potentially embarrassing situation for the GM and the owner."

No, there has never been any story or announcement about that.

From John Buncles:

"Darren, any chance we trade Kyler to the Jets for a first rounder in 2024?"


From Jared White:

"Hey Darren, sorry if I'm late to the party but I've been living under a rock. Why do I see Kent Somers on the blog? Did the boredom of retirement get to him? Happy to see him, his stuff is great; just curious. Also is Lisa Blanco coming back, so long as we're getting the old gang together."

Man, you really have been under a rock since Lisa changed to her married name of Matthews long before she left the team. (No, Lisa isn't coming back; she's got a great life with her family and new job.) As for Kent, I'll let him explain in his intro column.

By Michael Weber:

"Hi Darren. I saw a video on Instagram about the favourite football movies of the players and coaches. I was shocked nobody said 'Any Given Sunday.' Would like to hear your top three football movies. My list: 'Any Given Sunday,' 'Remember the Titans,' 'Friday Night Lights.' Thanks for all your work Darren. Greetings from Germany. Go Cards!"

I like your list. I would probably drop 'Rudy' in with Titans and FNL for me (loved the book of the latter; excellent storytelling of real life and something I'd love to do.) 'Any Given Sunday' was solid but I struggle when they do a pro football story with fake teams. Just throws it off for me. That said, love the Inch by Inch speech by Al Pacino. (Heads up: It contains a couple of locker room words.)

From Dawson S:

"Hey Darren, not Cardinals-related, but I'm looking to go into sports broadcasting or something similar. What tips and helpful advice would you give?"

You might want to reach out to Dani Sureck or Zach Gershman for broadcasting; that's what they went to school for. But my first advice would be to find a college that has a good reputation in the subject (Might I suggest the Cronkite School of Journalism? Not that I'm biased.) But other than that, it's basic. Be outgoing, network the best you can, be willing to potentially work in odd places to get started. Be patient too -- sometimes it takes some time to get experience and be where you want to go.

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