Well, J.J. Watt has decided to retire. Also, a reminder that if I didn't answer a question I probably answered something similar. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.
From Cindy Dobbins:
"Darren, I got a little concerned with J.J. Watt's statement about playing hard to show good film. I know he's a free agent next year. I was hoping he was like Zach Ertz, who said he wanted to retire here. Do you think J.J. is already looking for 'greener pastures?' Thanks."
Cindy, I had this great answer for your question, about what Watt's goals were and whether it made sense for the Cardinals to bring back an older player regardless of how well he was playing and all kinds of excellent analysis. Then Watt answered all your questions Tuesday. Yes, he was looking for greener pastures. But the green wasn't a where as much as a how, and not playing football (and maybe giving his wife a chance to extend her pro soccer career longer) and caring for his son became the thing. Hey -- it turned out, like Ertz, Watt did want to retire here.
From D Hillibrand:
"The big wish going forward is that Colt McCoy comes back and closes us out the last two games. But if McCoy can't go, do you believe there's any chance we start a QB other than McSorley? I'm sitting here after the game, listening to these postgame comments from the team and I'm just scratching my head. Why did we lose? McSorley. That was one of the most inept QB performances I've ever seen. So, back to the question, any chance we start a different QB?"
Clearly you are new to Cardinals' fandom -- or even the NFL. McSorley did not play well, but I can think of many other performances that were worse. And that's just the Cardinals over time, so let's try not to fall victim to recency bias. I mean, did you watch Nick Foles Monday night? McSorley was better than he was. There is no one else at this point. If McCoy is healthy, I'd think he'll get a chance to play. But McSorley has been in this offense for more than a season and I don't see David Blough absorbing enough in such a short period to make it worth him playing.
From David Bieber:
"Quentin Harris is VP of 'player' personnel, and Adrian Wilson is VP of 'pro' personnel. What is the definition of and difference between these two roles? Thanks."
Player personnel essentially oversees all of player work, college and pro -- so Harris has a hand in both -- while Wilson concentrates more (but not only) on the guys already in the NFL -- other rosters, potential free agents. But make no mistake, there is plenty of crossover in discussions on all levels between the two. That was already true even before Steve Keim's leave of absence.
From Charles O:
"I like our coach, but do you think Kliff is stuck on the Air Raid concept and won't adjust to his QB strengths? As I said, I like Kliff but do you think it's a very big job at this level for him to coach and call the plays? I wish Kliff would use a offensive coordinator. Do you think he will use one next season?"
I'm not sure what to which you refer with Kyler's strengths. He was a Pro Bowl quarterback in this offense in 2020 and 2021. As for using an OC, I've said this before, I do not expect while Kingsbury is here that he would turn to separate coordinator. I suppose that could change if he was asked to do so from higher up.
From Mike Scott:
"Hey Darren, it warms my heart to see you humoring the fans and playing GM for us for us, drafting the next great Cardinal! Thank you for all the work you do and dealing with salty fans during a tough season. Now that I've buttered you up I have to try to convince you to speculate about our head coach next season. Seems tough to keep Kliff in what was supposed to be a prove-it season, especially with the poor offense in our first six games when the team was healthier. Any names to throw out?"
Here's my deal with that. What's the point of speculating? This will be figured out soon enough, and I don't think it's fair to Kliff, to be honest. I think we all know what's in play here, from his extension to what the team has done this season to the distractions that have happened that have nothing to do with him. I'd also say that what happens with the GM situation, to me, would play a large role in possibilities, and we don't know about that either. I know people hate it when I won't speculate, but it's the same reason I'm not a fan of predicting season records or even game scores.
From Pom Villaire:
"Hey Darren, the whole co-GM thing just doesn't work long term, we all understand that. The question is, who's likely to take the mantle? Q or A-Dub? You know better than us. I think most fans would assume A-Dub, but that's only because he's a bigger name to us. For all we know, maybe you know internally, Q is highly thought of. What's your view on both guys?"
Couple things -- if Michael Bidwill is to make a change at GM, there wouldn't be co-GMs. He'd make a decision for one. There is also a chance he goes outside the organization. With Harris and Wilson, I have known both since both showed up as rookies playing for this team. They are both sharp football minds. Harris has been in the front office business longer. But could I tell you who makes more sense? No. There is a lot that goes into the job that you'd only find out their thought process within an interview process. There is a reason both guys have gotten GM interviews from other organizations the past couple years. I think both will eventually get a chance to be a GM -- whether it is in Arizona or elsewhere.
From Matthew Chadduck:
"If you could oblige me I would like to list the first pass rusher taken in each draft since 2016: Treyvon Walker, Micah Parsons, Chase Young, Nick Bosa, Bradley Chubb, Miles Garrett, and Joey Bosa. Every single one without exception is not only a hit, but a bonafide superstar. If we lose out and have some luck, picking at 3 is a real possibility, and if someone trades up with the Bears to take a QB at 2, that could be us. I am however against tanking, unlike most fans, but would like to propose the idea of trading up from 4 or 5 or 6 (or maybe even 3 just in case) because it seems like Will Anderson is just a guaranteed blue-chip franchise player."
I never say never, but usually, that kind of move ends up costing a premium. I want to see how the draft order comes together in the first place; it's interesting that many of the teams that can end up with top-5 picks besides the Texans can make the argument not to draft a quarterback. I agree pass rusher is important and getting the best in the draft could be a game-changer. But again nothing is a guarantee. There is still Dante Fowler and Dion Jordan and Bradley Chubb, all with varying success but none thought as great picks that high.
From Monty Dern:
"Hi Darren, I continue to laud praise on two rare Keim draft successes in Cam Thomas and Myjai Sanders. Thomas in particular flashes every game he's in, which leads to the never ending question "why dont Thomas and Sanders get the start at pass rush? I still see Golden alot and I just don't get it. Anyways, pivot a little bit, last week you were asked about draft picks. You said Will Anderson (the kid out of Alabama) would be your pick. I do agree. However, I just wanted to throw out this rhetorical and get your thoughts: Jalen Carter (Interior DL out of Georgia) is a dominant dude in the middle. Something we desperately need, especially with Watt gone. Im openly wondering if Thomas and Sanders make it so we don't have to chase an outside pass rusher? I'm not saying these guys are stars yet, but see enough to where I think drafting Carter as the interior force, and keeping Thomas and Sanders as our 1-2 could genuinely be great. Is that not reasonable?"
I think at this point, there is a good chance the Cardinals don't get a real choice in the matter even if they want Anderson or Carter. Odds say at least one will be gone before the Cardinals pick anyway. So if Carter is there when Anderson is gone, sure, take him if you think he can be a game-wrecker. But if Anderson is all that as an edge, I'm taking the edge given a choice. Besides, there is talk of bulking Thomas up to be another Zach Allen, so he's got some flexibility there.
From Harry Lennox:
"Do you think the team would consider trading Isaiah Simmons for a early-mid round pick (say a 3rd)? He still has some of that '8th overall pick' shine on him, so he does have some trade value. This is not attack post on Simmons. I like him. Seems like a good guy. He's extremely physical. I love that clip of him meeting Trey Lance at the goalline last year. Thunderous collision. I just think it didn't work out here for a variety of reasons and he could very well still be a great player elsewhere."
Wait -- so you think it's a good idea to dump the eighth overall pick who, while not playing like a Pro Bowler has absolutely flashed talent like that, for a third-round choice after three years? I'm going to disagree with you and say it's known that it "didn't work out." I want to see how he keeps developing.
From Kenny Williams:
"Regarding the missed pass interference call against Denver, I thought there was a new rule that allowed teams to challenge missed PI calls. Is that still in play, and if so, why wasn't it challenged (in your opinion)?"
That rule was used only one season, in 2018, as a test case. It caused so much controversy the league dumped it.
From Greg Painter:
"Darren thank you again for all you do, Okie Greg here again. This is my question. DO YOU SEE THIS TEAM CONTENDING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP NEXT YEAR OR EVEN A PLAYOFF SPOT? I don't! So why not build for the future when you can? We have some high priced contracts we can move off of, plus maybe accumulating a few draft picks with high priced contracts. As far as Kyler. If his injury keeps him out into next season why not keep him til trade deadline and I think you could still get at least two firsts and maybe more from a team desperate for a QB."
Not sure why you started yelling there. But this reminds me of a time when I was driving in Tempe when I was in college, listening to the old 620 Sportsline in the evening -- sports talk used to be just a nighttime show, not a whole radio station -- and a caller frustrated with how the Suns were playing wanted to know why the Suns just couldn't deal for center Hakeem Olajuwon (at the height of his powers) and the Suns could just give up Kurt Rambis, Tim Perry, and Negele Knight. Who says no? (insert rolling eye emoji here, except in those days there weren't any emoji.)
The point is no one is giving up two first-round picks for a quarterback with a torn ACL. Oh, and also, Murray is going to be the QB here. The contract makes it so. And I don't know what will happen from year-to-year. We can talk about what this team looks like after the draft and free agency.
From Robert Malicki:
"Hi, Darren. The sad death of Franco Harris got me thinking about how far NFL teams have changed in their offensive attack since the merger of the NFL and AFL. How does this evolution strike you? Having followed the Cardinals since the late 1950's I've seen it all and the disappointment we fans have endured when our QB suffered a season-ending injury. The championship promising seasons lost when Charley Johnson, Jim Hart, Neil Lomax and Carson Palmer sustained injuries were devastating to those teams. Other seasons when Jake and Kurt and now Kyler went down add to fans distress. When Franco played the emphasis of the attack ran thru him and Terry Bradshaw and Rocky Bleier and Lynn Swann and company complimented him. The Dolphins, Raiders, Cowpokes, Vikings did so, too. Do you think it better for a coach to commit his QB room to players of similar talents and experience to better adjust to your starting QB going down?"
In my opinion, while running the ball remains important, you can't run your offense like teams did once upon a time -- like the Steelers. I go back and watch tape of some of those games from the late 70s. It's like a different sport. Also, check out the turnovers teams had in those days. Coaches would die of ulcers if QBs threw as many picks. (One of my favorite stats of all time -- the day the Niners beat the Cowboys on the Dwight Clark catch in the 1981 NFC Championship game? The 49ers turned it over six times and still won.)
Anyway, I don't think the issue is as much that QBs have a different skillset between No. 1 and No. 2. I think the issue is talent levels between starters and backups, and more teams that spreads out the QB talent across the league. When you lose your starting QB these days, it's tough to have as much success. There is a reason the rules always seem to make sure QBs can't get hit/stay healthy.
From Kevin Parham:
"Can you say that a couple of good things about this season is that there have no longer been any questions about Larry Fitzgerald coming back or how badly we need new uniforms? Or would you rather field questions about potential firings after a train wreck of a season?"
I mean, the questions are the questions. Although it is odd how the uniform stuff used to be weekly and it has disappeared.
From Thomas Ginn:
"Good morning sir. I am an avid reader of this mailbag and love it. No question about football just a question in general: When USMC Through Thick and Thin asked questions along with comments why didn't you, or did you just have a 'cramp,' thank this Marine for his service?"
OK, am I trapped in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm? Here's the deal: I try and do that. I'm not going to say it was a cramp, I just didn't think about it. But what if I had just not? I am happy you enjoy the mailbag. But it's hard for me not to read a question like this and not think about its underlying meaning on your end.
From JB Illien:
"I enjoy the Caitlyn Epes photography articles. I encourage you to have more article like that, where somebody in the organization breaks down their professional work day and explain some of the choices they make. A good one would be Dave Pasch! How does he go about choosing talking points throughout a game, and what goals he's trying to achieve as a broadcaster. Stephen King wrote in his book "On Writing' that readers love hearing about what people to do for work, down to what seem like inane little details. It's true! You could do one yourself Darren. Walk us through your processes as a journalist. Do you approach your job as a journalist, or as an entertainer? Thanks!"
An intriguing thought. It's something we will consider.