Well, that wasn't the way the Cardinals wanted to follow that win in Green Bay, not with disappointment at home against a struggling Lions team. Now the Cards head to Atlanta, where the Falcons are on a losing streak of their own but get the Cards in a place that has been harsh to the Cardinals over the years.
On to the questions. You can always send in a question for next week's mailbag right here. As always, if I didn't get to your question specifically, I usually have answered one similar.
Well, this isn't Madden. Human beings are involved. If you "let it fly" and Josh Rosen gets sacked 10 times in a game because the offensive line isn't equipped to throw 50 times, or throw five interceptions because Rosen is a rookie and his receiving corps is inexperienced to say the least, that doesn't help anyone. I don't disagree that to a certain extent there is nothing to lose, but there's a difference between having nothing to lose and not having consequences. (Also, #hestooscared? What are we, 13 years old?)
From Rich Formy via azcardinals.com:
"Why does it seem that Larry Fitzgerald wasn't even targeted until the 3rd quarter? And then Rosen finally decides to start throwing to him regularly in garbage time instead of when it mattered? Considering the fact that he is one of the greatest receivers of all time, why doesn't he get thrown to a lot more when it actually matters? It's horribly frustrating to watch. And why does Josh Rosen stare down the receiver he wants to throw to every time? Even I could pick him off because of that."
Rosen does need to work on his eyes, but that's what rookie quarterbacks do sometimes. There are a number of things Rosen needs to improve. And no offense to you, Rich, but I'm willing to bet my life savings you could not pick him off.
As for Fitz, it seemed like he wasn't targeted until the third quarter because he wasn't targeted. They threw his way one time in the first half. There are multiple reasons why he doesn't get thrown the ball more often. The Cardinals don't have a receiving corps that can help get him open, teams can give him extra attention defensively for the same reason, the running game has been unable to generate openings for the passing game, and Rosen has missed some chances to make such passes. Short possessions and three-and-outs don't help the number of chances to target, either.
From Balázs Dohy via azcardinals.com:
"What do you think about the Cardinals’ tight end group? Ricky Seals-Jones is promising with his catching ability, but I can’t examine what impact he and Jermaine Gresham have in the running game,when they block. All of this is interesting to me because of David Johnson's disappointing performance. Do they have responsibility in that? Should the Cards use a draft pick on the TE position?"
That is a position that will likely be looked at in the offseason -- if no other reason, that the Cardinals will potentially want to find a blocker like you suggest. Seals-Jones is definitely a receiver first and mostly. Gresham likes to block, although his production there has been uneven this season. Is there responsibility with the tight ends with what Johnson has done? Sure, in part. But that goes for a lot of different areas, including Johnson himself.
From JTDG via azcardinals.com:
"As many years as I sat through the cards losing, I can't remember a worse home record. It use to be some of the appeal that we would at least win 4 or 5 at home. Is a 1-6 record the worse in Arizona history?"
Since moving to Arizona, the Cardinals have had two seasons where they went 2-6 at home, in 1989 and 1991. They went 5-11 overall in 1989, and 4-12 in 1991.
Well, aside from the leading portions of your questions, I think a lot of things will be on the table for the Cardinals this offseason and how they want to handle personnel. I'm not sure what direction they go with with Gresham. They have time to figure out Nkemdiche, especially given that they might want to see how his surgery goes. That fifth year would not be guaranteed beyond injury, so they could in theory move on from him before the 2020 league year, but I think we will know what they think of Nkemdiche's future if they pick up the option or not. That might depend on the draft. As for Humphries, it's the same thing. What might they get in the draft? How does Cunningham finish? I'll say this, at his age, Humphries would likely get a decent chunk of change on the open market. I am guessing he remains the left tackle, even with his injury history.
From Mike Fox via azcardinals.com:
"Can you post the Cardinals next season opponents?"
- Los Angeles Rams
- San Francisco 49ers
- Seattle Seahawks
- Atlanta Falcons
- Carolina Panthers
- Cleveland Browns
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- NFC North (which as of today would be the Green Bay Packers)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- San Francisco 49ers
- Seattle Seahawks
- New Orleans Saints
- Los Angeles Rams
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Baltimore Ravens
- NFC East (which as of today would be the Washington Redskins)
From Josh Hartman via azcardinals.com:
"Do you see any Cardinals (Gunter, Golden, Boston etc.) getting extended during what’s left of the season this year?"
There is a chance. But for many of those guys, this close to free agency, it might behoove them to see what is out there on the open market. Tre Boston, for instance, is going to want to see if he can get the big money he felt he was going to get last offseason. Gunter is having a nice contract year as well.
From Sue Rumbolz via azcardinals.com:
"It appears Larry Fitzgerald is not getting targeted early in games but lots of opportunity in 4th quarter. How do his targets compare to previous years? Is there a reason Rosen is not targeting Fitz earlier in games?"
As I noted above, teams still pay close attention to Fitz, and as an older player, he can have separation issues as well. Mostly, defenses don't really have anyone else to fear. Target-wise, yes he is significantly down. He is on pace to have the fewest targets in his career -- and on pace to have fewer than 100. He has 84. (By comparison, last season, Fitzgerald had 109 catches, on 161 targets. So yes, much different this year.) His current low in targets for a season is 103 in 2014, and he missed two games that season. Barring injury, Fitz will play all 16 this season.
From Joshua McIntyre via azcardinals.com:
"It seems as though Josh Rosen has not learned much of anything this season and thus, has a very low ceiling in terms of how much he can improve. Is it time to get another young quarterback or even a veteran quarterback in there?"
If you are asking about "in there" in terms of the last three games, that's not going to happen. But when you talk about "another young quarterback," goodness I hope you are not talking about 2019. I mean, Rosen has had his issues and he has a long way to go. But to essentially give up on the 10th pick in the draft after less than a full season, with the offensive personnel he has around him? Please tell me that is not what you are suggesting.
From Zhasian Lupeuopa via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren! I know you hate draft questions but please indulge the legions. Assuming we pick second overall (heck maybe first overall). Do you prefer:
A. Best player available (probably a defensive lineman. Bosa, Oliver, Q Williams)
B. Trading back for a haul of picks. (sometimes worth it, sometimes you lose Suggs)
C. Taking a need (in this case say OT Jonah Williams, who might not be the BPA at the time)."
I don't hate draft questions, but to me, they make little sense right now. I don't know enough about the top part of the draft, what players fit where, who is coming out, etc. And since the draft comes after free agency, that ultimately has a major impact because things change, roster-wise. All that said, trading -- depending on how far back -- always is a draw, because the Cards have a QB and need multiple holes filled. Whether that makes sense, we don't know yet.
From Robert Malicki via azcardinals.com:
"In the last week two running backs have had 90+ yard TD runs. Long-distance runs now seem the exception rather than the rule. And changes to the rules in the kicking game have really dampened that part of the game having much of an impact in overall play. How can football fans of the NFL think that diluting two-thirds of the games' potential excitement while artificially enhancing the passing game is a good thing? You're closer to the game and its coaches. How do you see it?"
Well, to begin with, I'm not sure the two 90-yard runs are anything but an anomaly and since they happen so infrequently anyway, I'm not sure they were ever anything but the exception. The rules have nothing to do with it. Now, if you are concerned about the rules to help the passing game, I get it. Some don't love it. But a) the ratings haven't suffered, so the public overall isn't bothered, and b) Judging by the games like Bears-Rams, Seahawks-Vikings, even Cardinals-Lions, it sure doesn't seem like football is out of whack from the past.
As for the players and coaches, some might grumble, especially from the defensive side. But the rules in place for more safety, that's just life going forward. That won't ever go back. The other stuff -- a crackdown on defensive holding, for instance -- players eventually adapt.
From Daniel Galverado via azcardinals.com:
"This is not an anti-Wilks rant, there is validity to the point. We hired Wilks and signed Bradford long before Rosen was drafted. Meaning Wilks was hired before we knew we had a young QB of the future on our hands. Would it not be a good reason to maybe change the entire coaching staff so as to hire a QB-guru-type head coach. Somebody who has a history of developing young QBs."
Here's the thing: A head coach coaches the whole team, and he works with most of the building (in other words, the rest of the organization.) I understand your point, but there have been plenty of quarterbacks developed over the years without a QB guru. Bill Belichick isn't a QB guru. Tony Dungy wasn't a QB guru. Brady and Manning turned out OK. You need someone on staff -- not necessarily the head coach -- to work well with a young QB. And yes, Rosen has to be developed. But you can't be myopic, IMO.
As far as I can see, the players still respond to him. They played hard in Green Bay, and if a team was going to tune out a coach, that would've been the day, as miserable as it was. I didn't see the Lions game as that either -- the defense played well, and the offense struggled because they aren't very good at this point, not because of effort. No, I can't get in the players' heads, but really, that hasn't been a thought to me.
From Isaac Fair via azcardinals.com:
"I think it is fair to say that from a statistical standpoint Rosen has not lived up to his draft pick and trade (yet, I recognize this can take years). Do you think it is fair to expect/hope a sophomore surge from him like we saw in Goff/Wentz/Trubisky?"
I don't know if it is fair to expect one, but I think we all know the reality. Everyone -- the organization, the coaching staff, the fan base -- will be expecting one.
From Former USAF pilot via azcardinals.com:
"How do Rosen's stats compare with the other first-year QBs?"
Funny you should ask. I just wrote a story about Rosen and have all those in a paragraph in the story. Click here.
From Jeshua Witt via azcardinals.com:
"How would you evaluate Patrick Peterson's play at this point in the season?"
I think he will make the Pro Bowl and I think he deserves to make the Pro Bowl. He remains one of the top shutdown cornerbacks in the league, and ultimately, that's should be the priority on which he is judged. Now, have there been a couple of noticeable times when Peterson hasn't mixed it up much as a tackler, especially in games that have gotten away from the Cardinals? Yes. And I know fans aren't thrilled with the trade stuff from earlier this season. Peterson is frustrated with the team's play this year, and that's understandable. All that said, he's still played well (the Lions' Kenny Golladay had five yards on two catches Sunday with Peterson mostly on him). The argument can be made that he and Chandler Jones are the two best Cards this season.
From Steve Villanueva via azcardinals.com:
“ 'The numbers are going to look OK because the Lions softened up late” Huh? Darren, would you have made that statement if you had realized that after starting 6 of 15, Rosen went 11 of his next 13 ... way before the Lions 'softened up late.' By the way, he completed 20 of his last 26 which nobody bothered to mention and with the receivers/O-line he had to work with, that is very impressive. IMO."
I appreciate the defense of Rosen, Steve, and as I noted earlier, the idea that Rosen shouldn't be the QB moving forward is crazy. That said, I watched the game live. Whatever stats Rosen had, they did not indicate how that game played out and it was not good. Stat-wise, though, here's the reality: In the second half, Rosen went 2-for-2 on his first drive, but the second completion was for zero yards, and the Cards punted. The next possession, Rosen indeed completed five straight passes and had the team on the move -- and then completed a sixth straight to Darius Slay for the Lions' pick-6. The next possession, 1-for-1, completing an 11-yard pass on third-n-12.
Then came the fourth quarter, and the Lions, with the 10-point lead, backed off some. Rosen was 8-for-10 in that time frame. I say all this not to denigrate Rosen, but context matters.
From Chad Johnson via azcardinals.com:
"Which rookies offensive linemen do you expect to remain starters next year? Cole v Shipley? Cunningham at RT?"
It's too early to make that call. Yes, I'd think Mason Cole is a starter, either at center but maybe guard. Korey Cunningham has a chance, but he has a long way to go. Colby Gossett might show enough to get in the mix. But the Cardinals need a strong OL, and if there are pieces in free agency and the draft, they need to get them.
From Steve Drumm via azcardinals.com:
"The Cardinals are 3-10 and this season has been frustrating to say the least. Not suggesting the Cards should tank but what is your school of thought on more wins vs the top pick at this point? If we get the top pick we could trade out and get more additional picks thereby really helping the roster or take Nick Bosa, who is considered the best pass rusher in the draft. Would winning one more game (and losing out on the top pick) still be worth it?"
I've talked about this before, but my school of thought is players and teams don't want to tank. It doesn't help the coaches and it doesn't help the players on their non-guaranteed contracts. Honestly, since the Cardinals have a QB, would it really matter if the Cardinals are picking second or fourth or sixth? Given the holes they have, I don't think so. Besides, that joy everyone on the sideline had after the Packers' win, that's something all those guys are chasing every week.