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You've Got Mail: Heating Up Around The Facility

Topics include fullbacks, Fitz and Kyler's growth

Kyler running Mailbag 0718

Vacation is over. At least, mine is. Much thanks to Craig Grialou and Dani Sureck for filling in on a mailbag each in my absence, even if Dani wanted to take a shot at my basketball abilities (declining as they might be.) But that's training camp we can all see on the horizon. The season is almost here. The mailbag? It's always here. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From J Schubert:

"Hi Darren, welcome back from vacation. I realize that the Cardinals are keeping many of their offensive plans close to their vest while leaking a glimpse of having more emphasis on the run. I know the position of fullback is almost extinct in the NFL but it seems to me that during the Wolfley/Centers years the team's offensive potency flourished with the power blocking, pass catching and running ability of those two, especially Larry Centers. It might be refreshing to find a Cardinals team running a smash-mouth offense. Man, with the throwing talent of a Kyler Murray in a dropback or rollout, we could really mess up defensive schemes. Any chance the Cardinals might surprise us and renew the fullback position in the NFL?"

I think it's fair to say if the Cardinals were going to be using a fullback they would have already signed one, which they have not. I do believe Gannon and Drew Petzing will use multiple tight ends, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a package with an H-back type of role with a tight end. But I don't think you're going to see "smash-mouth" and that's OK with me. I don't think old school smash-mouth football can succeed long-term in today's NFL. You have to be able to pass and you have to be able to put points on the board, and you have to be able to do those things to rally if you fall behind.

From Art Pozza:

"The Cardinals were near the bottom in defensive sacks last year. What was it, 36? And most of those are gone. I'm trying to add up how many sacks this group can get this year? I'm hard-pressed to come up with 36, which is not good. Where are the sacks going to come from?"

That is the correct number, the Cardinals totaled 36 sacks last season. Their sacks per pass attempt ranking was 24th in the league. It's a fair question to wonder where the sacks will come from; the pass rush has a lot of questions it is facing heading into training camp. This is where you need second-day guys like Myjai Sanders and Cameron Thomas to make an impact. See what they can get out of Zaven Collins on the outside will also be fascinating to watch. Can any of these defensive linemen make a dent like J.J. Watt?

From Ace Gaunt:

"Hi Darren. Adding on to the ongoing concern of the new regime dismissing the 2022 draft class (particularly in regard to Myjai and Thomas), why have we heard no news on Lecitus Smith or Marquis Hayes? Word is our center is this Froholdt, which if he's the best man, fine. But gut feeling really feels like our 2022s are getting redheadedstepchild'ed right now, and I don't like it. For all of Steve Keim's draft faults, I felt the 2022 class could've been one of the better ones, top to bottom. Even cornerback CB Christian Matthew is still here."

You haven't heard much because there hasn't been anything to say. Neither were working with the first unit and frankly, beyond that, you can't judge much on the offseason. We will see how it plays out in camp, but it should be kept in mind -- whether you want to put cute verbiage on it or not -- that with a new coaching staff and a new GM they are going to evaluate players differently. We don't know how they see Smith and Hayes. But we will see how training camp goes, when players get to hit each other for real and maybe there will be movement on the depth chart.

From Jason from Chandler:

"Hi Darren. I keep hearing people speculate that the Cards could possibly end up with both the first and second pick in next years draft. I'm questioning that we end up with two first-rounders at all. We had to exchange an early third-rounder for a later third-rounder because of a phone call. What about these alleged burner phones talking to our then-suspended GM? Could that cost us a first-round pick? Let me know what you think. Thanks again."

I don't know what exactly is going to happen with the McDonough situation, but I feel confident the first-round picks the Cardinals are scheduled to make (their own and the Texans' pick) will indeed be under their control come draft day 2024.

From Dwain Desbien:

"Three full seasons have passed since Larry Fitzgerald walked away from football. Isn't about time we put him the Ring of Honor?. I mean Carson Palmer last played in 2017 and went into the ROH in 2019 and Fitz means so much more to this franchise than Palmer. Fitz is without a doubt the best player the Cardinals have had while in Arizona if not in their history. Why the extended delay?"

Quick correction: It's been two seasons. You are correct in your Fitz analysis, and all I can say is that Fitz is a busy man and you still have to find a time to make such a ceremony work for both sides. Oh, and remember Fitz never wanted to make a big deal out of his retirement, so maybe that is in play too. Regardless, everyone -- including Michael Bidwill -- knows Fitz needs to be in the RoH and it will happen.

From Chris Campbell:

"This is some pushback on something Dani said. It is a valid criticism that Kyler's problems are not talent related but personality related. Nobody doubts he's a nice guy. His problem is communication with teammates and media. I acknowledge he said the right things in his recent comments. He mentioned the importance of adjusting his communication style with teammates and being coachable. That's good. Really it is. All I'm saying is that part of that growth needs to be a demonstrated comfort, and willingness, to be visible and vocal with the media and fans. He needs to come out of his shell. He's paid. It's time The good news is we are seeing actionable effort to do so."

I guess we will see where all this goes.

From Austin Cole:

"Hey Darren. I just watched a video on Josh Rosen and they talked about how even in college a lot of people questioned his commitment and passion for the game. Not to be mean to Steve Keim, but it wasn't his first miss at a draft pick who maybe doesn't love football. Robert Nkemdiche had the same faults. Do you believe Monti Ossenfort would have drafted either Josh Rosen and/or Robert Nkemdiche? Do you believe it's good to draft people who have shown signs of not loving football?"

I have no idea about Ossenfort's view on a guy like Rosen (or Nkemdiche). Circumstances matter; in the case with Rosen, many thought he was a first-round prospect and the Cardinals were clearly QB-needy at the time. I wouldn't put him and Nkemdiche in the same category when it comes to this topic either. But you are right, that was one of the knocks against both players, that they weren't as invested in the game as one would hope. Generally, no, I don't think it's a good idea to draft such players. You need guys who have talent. That's obvious and important. But if they don't have the drive to mine that talent, it's moot.

From Collin M:

"Hi Darren, with the Women's World Cup coming up, do you have any plans to do a piece on Zach Ertz and Michael Wilson, given that their significant others will be starters in the tournament? Pretty cool. I recall Zach and J.J. Watt bonded over their wives playing together. Not sure if Wilson and Ertz have gotten quite that far yet though. Thanks, as always."

I've been gone for a month, so there were a couple of stories I would've wanted to get to and didn't. This was one. But I have high hopes for the USWNT, and this story still makes some sense afterward as well, with Julie Ertz and Sophia Smith.

From Matthew Stroh:

"Hey Darren. Hope you had a great vacation. I know it's your first mailbag back but I have a question for Chris Melvin. Google says he is the boss of media, I think. Why don't the Cardinals have a charity basketball pickup game against each other in the media department. It will be awesome content and great for charity and Dani last week said she could beat you at basketball. So win-win all around."

A lot to unpack here. Not that I would ever question Google, but I don't know if I'd call Melv the "boss of media." He is the senior director of media relations, but Mark Dalton is the senior VP of media relations, so Mark wins. As far as charity basketball, I think you grossly overestimate a) the interest in such an event, and b) the abilities of those involved. (Although Patrick Smith, our digital strategist, can definitely ball.. And yes, you too, Q.) With Dani ... ah, no need to go there.

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