Apologies to everyone looking for the mailbag on Tuesday but with the bye week it made sense to spread out some content and push this to Wednesday. The mailbag will return to Tuesdays next week. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. Don't forget to send a question for a future mailbag.
From J.J. Fowler:
"Hi Darren. Sunday's win against the Steelers was nice to see, as the NFL Network said the Cardinals last win at Pittsburgh was in 1969. Now a late season bye week for the Cards, so do most players take off for short vacations elsewhere or simply hang around the area?"
It definitely depends. I am guessing if you are younger and single you probably find a way to go somewhere. If you have a family or are settled here, it might just be hanging out, although with a full seven days off, vacations wouldn't be surprising.
From Robert Malicki:
"Hi, Darren. We fans knew this season would be a hard road before it even started. I get the drag on the offense without Kyler and then James Conner and other pieces missing because of injuries. My question is where the contribution of Rondale Moore that was touted failed to develop? Has it turned out his talents are not compatible with Petzing's style of offense or is it something else? As a player he intrigues me as a real threat. I'll now be looking forward to the 49ers game to see if a more healthy and rejuvenated team shows up."
It's been a weird year for Moore. He was being used as a backfield threat for a while and that pretty much has gone away, and he still has never had a specific role in the passing game. The Pittsburgh game could've have been a big day, although he couldn't hang on to the one deep pass and the TD he caught -- spectacularly, by the way -- was negated by a holding call. It just seems like this offense would be OK with one smaller, fast guy at wideout and with injuries they are playing with three -- Dortch, Hollywood and Moore.
From David B:
"To win is great, but we won DESPITE Kyler. My questions is can you name a team that might consider absorbing Kyler's exorbitant salary? We need a fresh start."
Can't disagree with the first sentence more, and not sure how you could watch that game and have that conclusion. As for the second, that's a question for other teams, but it's feeling like a moot point.
From Matthew Stroh:
"Hey Darren. Thank you for the mailbag. I know this year I have given a lot of praise to Monti Ossenfort but I need to continue it. I know people have criticized the release of Joshua Dobbs and Zach Ertz. People are now realizing he is not a starting caliber quarterback. Ertz, with the success of McBride and other tight ends, was not going to be able to see the field as much. So here's my question. If you were an NFL player would you rather be kept on the bench until the end of the season or get released to see if you may have success elsewhere? Thank you for your time."
I would need more info than that. Generally, if the team was struggling and I wasn't in their future plans, I probably would like a chance to play elsewhere. It would depend on what I am making and what I could be making too. As of this writing Ertz hasn't found a new team, and Dobbs' situation in Minnesota can always change. Most players don't get that kind of option. Dobbs was planning on being a Cardinal. As much as it would suck, I'd like to believe if I was a player I would get that I wouldn't always have control of my situation -- because that's reality.
From Buddy Meola:
"After attending the Rams debacle I have finally accepted the fact that this team doesn't have the weapons to be competitive. The offensive line is decimated and the defensive line which was not that good to begin with has more holes than swiss cheese. With so many holes in this team the fact that we have the chance for a high pick do we target the best player in the draft, Marvin Harrison? He will probably be the second or third pick off the board. To me this is another chance at a Larry Fitzgerald but with so many holes do we trade down for more capital to get a defensive line starter and another offensive lineman starter? I know it is a crap shoot but we didn't go wrong by selecting Larry."
The Marvin Harrison question, assuming the Cardinals keep a top-three pick, is going to be one of the big questions for the team, right? That's assuming the Bears don't want him to pair with Justin Fields. But big picture, I have always seen Monti Ossenfort as a guy who a) wants to maximize his draft haul; b) prioritizes the trenches (and cornerback/pass rush too); and c) will be looking at a draft class deep in really good receivers so that the Cards could find one later.
From Justin S:
"Hi Darren. Thanks for the mailbag and for the job you do day in and out. From some responses it seems like if some people get hit in the head with a raindrop suddenly they're drowning and there's no hope. I really feel people aren't giving Kyler time. Not only is he coming back from an injury, but he is learning a new offense. History generally suggests this takes half a season at the least to grasp in live situations. Second, I see no problem with the coaches working on Kyler's mechanics. Larry Fitzgerald was one of the best receivers in the league and he was constantly honing his craft. Am I out of left field in these positions?"
I mean, it's your opinion so you are allowed to have that opinion. I don't think it's out of left field. I do think this was always going to be learning on the fly for Kyler. It's funny you bring up Fitz when it comes to mid-career coaching tweaks. When Bruce Arians showed up he wanted Fitz to work inside a lot more and he had Fitz working on a lot more detailed routes than Fitz had ever had to learn. Jacked up the first half of the 2013 season in the chemistry between he and Carson Palmer. They figured it out.
From Jim Davenport:
"This just doesn't apply to the Cardinals but have seen this multiple times during the course of this NFL season. Two scenarios both on third down or fourth down:
- Throw to a receiver who fails to get to the line of gain for to advance to the first down marker. They pull up short and get tackled. They should be going to-to-four yards beyond the marker. Is this lack of coaching or just failed execution?
- Drives me crazy when the OC calls for the ball to be thrown behind the line of scrimmage hoping the receiver will get back to the line of scrimmage and to the first-down marker. Most of these attempts fail."
Well, I'm not always a fan of the horizontal pass, but I would wager that "most" of them do not fail, unless there is a vast conspiracy of dumb play calls. I don't love the play but if you have an offensive line that can't block or a QB who can't read defenses, you're going to try and scheme around it. And if you execute right, it can work -- the 49ers ran a pretty nice play that Deebo Samuel turned into a TD against the Eagles.
As for the receiver that should go past the sticks, you are correct, they need to give themselves some clearance. But do you know who else knows that? The defender. Sometimes it's execution, sometimes the defense plays it perfect. You can argue then it's a worthless play, but the coaches aren't saying, "Hey, come up short here."
From Jeff Smith:
"Hi Darren, I have been pleasantly surprised with the Cardinals this year. The Rams have always made us look horrible, so nothing new there. Sending this before the Steeler game, but I have high hopes they will perform well. The Cardinals lack depth and when injuries build up it shows. What are your thoughts on having Kyler sit out after the bye? He is getting hammered with our porous line. Call 2023, focus on building inside out in the draft and live for another season."
I understand the sentiment, but I disagree. Kyler needs as much live work as he can get in this offense. You can only get that in games.
From John Turelli:
"I am very happy to hear the Jesse Luketa story about his car trouble and the family who drove him to the game on time. One of the best stories of the year for sure. The way he explained it all made me laugh and now I am really rooting for him to have a great career. Monti, I wish you a great career here and an even greater 2024 draft. Gannon we all know this is your first year and I hope in 20 years we can all look back and laugh about 2023 while you won five super bowls. Kyler please become our No. 1 QB so I can talk to my grandkids about you someday. Thank you Darren for this forum and I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I do. Go Cards!"
The mailbag is for the people.
From Rob S:
"I can see the argument for using our draft capital to build around Kyler Murray, but to be honest, for me, I've seen enough to be ready to move on. If the Cards end up with a first or second overall pick and don't have to trade to move up I would say go for it. If the new regime is going to move on, now's the time. My question for you is, in this hypothetical situation considering moving on from Murray, what would be the most likely scenario to get the most draft capital in return for him: trade him late in the season to a desperate team making a playoff push and/or only missing a competent QB, or after the season pre draft? Is this an answerable question? Haha! Thanks for playing what if with me."
No, it's not really answerable. I believe Kyler is the QB going forward, for starters. Second, you can't trade anyone late in the season. There is a trade deadline, and we are long past it.