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You've Got Mail: Giants Week

Topics include Dobbs debut, Ertz as top target, and the upside of the opener

Conner Wash Mailbag 091223

The Cardinals started with a loss, but it did seem like there were things to build on. Hopefully they can create something as sturdy as this here mailbag. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. You can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From David Beiber:

"As you said in your post-game post, the defense shined and never gave up. As you also said, Dobbs played like a QB that just arrived. My question is why did we start him? He looks to have some skills, but he is not the current answer. Clayton Tune played quite well in the preseason for a rookie and had much more time to learn the offense and our players. My final observation is that Drew Petzing called a totally ineffective game from late third quarter on. We couldn't run against that strong defensive line, yet we kept pounding the rock. (What is that expression about insanity?)"

Much to delve into here. You seem to say that Dobbs played poorly, yet you were upset the Cardinals weren't using him more down the stretch to throw the ball? The Cardinals seemed to me always planning on calling a conservative offense (and I don't think it would've looked any different with Tune, tbh) and relying on the defense to get them a win. It almost worked. It's funny to me -- people question the Dobbs trade and cutting McCoy, and yet no one (and this is speculation on my part, but fair I think) talks about the trade for Dobbs because the Cardinals felt neither McCoy or Tune was the answer going into the season.

From Charles Hunt:

"Darren, hope all is well! Love seeing the defense play so hard this weekend. My question is about the offense, why is Zach Ertz playing ahead of Trey McBride? McBride was participating all offseason and preseason (despite missing time due to an injury) and he only gets 2 targets vs 10 for Ertz? We have several youngster/ rookies playing key roles, and I think they should let McBride be TE1."

McBride made a couple of nice catches, but for now, Ertz was always going to be TE1 when he returned. It didn't surprise me a new quarterback was going to lean on a veteran tight end for targets given how many short passes were being thrown. Obviously with that many targets there needs to be a lot more production than the mere 21 yards on six receptions. I think McBride will have a chance to build on his opportunities, but it was clear by the snaps (46-23) there is a gap right now.

From Matthew Stroh:

"Hey Darren. I know we lost and but we did great things on defense and we already see the 'Where's Tune' comments. I think maybe we should give Dobbs one more chance. Do you think Dobbs will start next week? Do you think the OL is not good or the Washington DL is that good? If you had to pick one thing you want the team to improve on this week in practice and show at next week game what would it be?"

They will give Dobbs another start. I can't see this coaching staff pulling the plug after one game, and I wrote as much. I am not saying they will stick with Dobbs no matter what nor am I saying Tune shouldn't get a chance to play. But making a change after one game makes no sense to me, and I believe this staff had their reasons to pick Dobbs over Tune in the first place. The whole offense -- OL included -- has to up its game, but in the fourth quarter Washington's defensive line showed why they are so good. As far as the practice question, it's got to be the QB and being more efficient on offense.

From Jon David Lair:

"Obviously, losses are tough. But would you say there is a little bit of upside? I mean the Cardinals definitely did not look like the team last year that just seemed to give up at the end of games. So maybe it's not all negative?"

From Jonathan Gannon on down, the Cardinals have had a tough time saying as much, and that is understandable. But from the outside looking in? I thought the defense exceeded my expectations. The mentality was excellent. How that translates as we go on we have to see. Clearly the offense/QB have to be better. I don't know what that looks like without Kyler. Considering everything that has been said about this team, however, I do think they made many notice it wasn't going to be like that.

From Dan Graham:

"Josh Dobbs looks very athletic to me. How is his arm strength? Colt McCoy did not seem to be able to throw the deep ball as far as I could tell. I think that perhaps he was hurt and was limited as to which throws he could make. I recall that he had several days in which he did not throw. In his preseason starts, he seemed to only make the short throws. What do you think of that theory? Also, with PUP you cannot play in the first four games. You also cannot practice during those weeks. There is also the IR. After the 53-man roster is set, going onto the IR means not being able to play in the first four games, right? So, what is the difference between being on the PUP or the IR?"

I don't know if I'd say Dobbs has the strongest arm, and I would think Clayton Tune probably has a bigger arm. But I think there is something to concern about Colt McCoy and what the coaches thought he could -- or couldn't -- do. Whatever the reasons, the coaches certainly felt like Dobbs for McCoy was a move they needed to make. As for PUP and IR, the rules are basically the same. With IR though, those guys had already practiced at least some during camp (because otherwise they would be on PUP). Because of the rules that say anyone on IR-to-return (and you only get so many of those guys) have to be on the initial 53-man roster and PUP guys don't, it made sense to save the roster spot with Kyler on PUP since it really didn't make a difference.

From Victor Porto:

"Darren. Love reading the mailbag and thanks for all your research and good cheer. Question is, can you explain the origin of the football terms quarterback and fullback?"

Fairly simple, to be honest. In the earliest versions of the game, the player who stood under center was a "quarter back" of where the ball was. The player behind that was a "full back." (Eventually there was a player "half back" too.) In the early game, there was no forward passing; the quarterback was another running back, just like modern fullbacks and halfbacks.

From John McGill:

"Hello Darren. I hope all is well with you. Has LB Kyle Soelle been picked up off of waivers from anyone?"

Right now, Soelle is unsigned. I know he had at least one tryout since the Cardinals released him.

From Stevie Henderson:

"I just listened to Arizona Sports fill-ins (last week) talking about the Cardinals' chaos. I don't think they understand the definition of chaos. As I see it, the Cards are unsettled at many positions, but not chaotic. They have a plan, and are executing it while letting positional battles play out. And I do not believe the GM or any of the coaches have a tank mindset. Logic tells you this year will be tough, but regardless of how many wins, they will still have at least one great first draft pick. Why do some of our own reporters still talk of tanking and chaos?"

Let's sort this out, quickly. I don't know if I would call radio hosts "reporters," they are paid to be opinion-generators. I have a hard time calling someone a reporter who isn't around the team face-to-face on a consistent basis. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "our own"? That implies reporters or hosts or whomever should be slanted, I assume in favor of the local teams? As a long-time journalism guy, that doesn't work for me. And I'll also say the tanking part of the conversation is a fair topic. I don't think Gannon and Ossenfort are doing that, but tanking is a thing in sports so people are going to discuss such things. (And I agree there is no chaos here. There might be a heavy lift resetting the roster, but it is not a chaotic process.)

From Jimmy Anderson:

"This is more of a comment than a question, but can ask it in the form of a question. I live in NYC and Verizon has been running an ad locally here about signing up for Sunday Ticket. The ad features a Cardinals fan in the bushes watching his neighbor's TV because he doesn't have Sunday Ticket. Bills QB Josh Allen joins him in the bushes to tell him about the promotion. The play that they are showing is the Hail Murray. I just thought it was interesting/ironic that Josh Allen was in the ad, and they showed a play where the Bills lost. Is this ad running in your area? I'm guessing no because I haven't heard any of you guys talking about it on the podcasts or radio."

So yes, this is a national ad, although the only version I have seen has Kyler Murray rolling left away from Aaron Donald of the Rams and not the Hail Murray. If I remember the play correctly, the Rams one was a nothing play -- it's really weird to me they picked it. Also odd that it's Josh Allen talking to a Cardinals fan.

From Dhruvraj Parmar:

"Hey Darren, thanks for the mailbag.

  • Michael Wilson is listed over Zach Pascal in starting lineup. I also saw Pascal being used on special teams and laying a huge hit. Was the snap count/targets reflective of this? I didn't see Wilson get a lot of touches.
  • The strip sack. How much of that is on the blindside O-lineman vs QB not feeling the pressure?
  • I live in NJ and feels like alone on an island here as an AZ Cardinal fan. Does team offer some sort of forum/platform where you can connect with fellow AZ Cardinal fans ? I think this is something all sports team should offer (like an app/watch party). Easy way to connect to fellow fans."

Some answers.

  • They have high hopes for Wilson and he's the starter because they deem him better than Pascal. But one of the reasons they wanted Pascal was so he could play special teams, because he is excellent at it.
  • Sweat beat D.J. Humphries but it wasn't clean and I thought Dobbs should've had a faster clock in his head. I'm sure both Hump and Dobbs want to do better (and also, Sweat is a pretty good pass rusher.)
  • It is an interesting idea, but no, that doesn't not exist, at least through the team.

From Rotillio Cardinale:

"With Beachum injured before the first game is even played do you think the Cards head honchos would admit that trading away Josh Jones for pennies was shortsighted? I understand that he likely would switch teams after this year regardless for an opportunity to start BUT with Murray hopefully coming back this year wouldn't insurance for Murray's protection and health be in the best interest of the team and Murray? If the argument is that Josh Jones would have been inactive, well isn't Carter O'Donnell taking up a roster spot anyway? We finally drafted an OL before the 4th round and then we virtually give him away."

It happened that Beachum got banged up. But we are still talking about a fourth tackle. You are already talking in "ifs." Johnson and Hump played every snap. They spent a fourth-round pick on him, yes. Three years later, with a less-than-consistent showing, they got back a fifth for him. O'Donnell is taking up a spot now; let's see what it looks like in two weeks or two months. Keeping a fourth tackle in case of two injuries in case Kyler comes back in that timeframe doesn't seem like a good enough argument to stand pat.

From Steve Zukowski:

"Can we put to bed the idea that the Cardinals are deliberately trying to tank so that they can draft Caleb Williams? They played hard, and were in the game until the last. Can the media also get over the fact that Gannon didn't announce the starting QB before the game. Don't you think that a coach who emphasizes attention to detail, and that little things can make a difference in the outcome, can see merit in letting Washington prepare for both QBs?"

As I say for all situations like this, people are going to think what they are going to think. We have a few topics like that in our country, this is one of them. The same goes for the starting QB thing, although I did point out to someone on, X, last week, if you think it doesn't matter if Gannon kept the QB thing a secret, then why would you care if he did or not?

From Paul Murphy:

"When do you think the Cards will get their first touchdown of the year? I think it'll be against the Bears. My opinion is they needed to win the Washington game because all of the schedule just gets harder."

Thanks for the sarcasm, Paul. Whatever would I do without it?

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