The quiet of the offseason has arrived. But the mailbag never stops. If you want to leave a question for a future mailbag, please go here.
From Luan Figueredo:
"Hey Darren, I would like to know what your answer would be in one of the questions from the last 'Debate This.' What position group will show the most improvement this season?"
An excellent question. I am going to go with defensive line. I think J.J. Watt will make a big impact. I think Jordan Phillips will want to show he was worth the contract. And I'm a believer in Lawrence and Fotu, at least from the standpoint of them becoming solid contributors.
From Clamond Isley:
"So now that camp is over, are you guys gonna be providing any commentary? You got footage so certainly you were there every day and watching practice. So what's the reports on guys? Obviously it was just vanilla drills, but you still get to see guys move. How they react. Is anybody standing out for good or bad? I don't care what Vance or any of the coaches say. They are professional hype men. I want the views of you or Kyle or somebody who will say who is excelling and who is struggling, based on sideline observation."
Here's the deal. Yes, we are allowed to observe practice (as was the media), but we are not allowed to report beyond the initial 20 minutes or so, which is essentially individual drills. You can't tell if a guy (other than him being out of shape, and I didn't notice anyone like that) is any good in that setting. Even if we were, they weren't doing anything of note even in the closed part. There was no 11-on-11, and the 7-on-7 was limited too. I know people are thirsting for this kind of analysis, but it really won't come until some of the training camp practices (because some of those I am guessing will be closed to reporting as well.)
Finally, I'm not a huge believer in reading much into June stuff. It just doesn't have much correlation to the season, in my 20-plus years of watching this. The only thing that (kind of) makes a difference to me is who is around and the chance to bond a little bit. But even then I don't think it means a ton. Chandler Jones missing minicamp isn't a big deal from the standpoint of his presence, for instance (although it does mean something when it comes to his mindset, assuming it is contract-related.)
From Nate Clementine:
"Hi Darren. What is the status of the Jordan Hicks situation? He didn't come to minicamp. Understandable, but also probably not a great sign. The sticking point is that we save nothing by cutting him; and if they don't find a trade partner, what do we do? Just how angry is he? Would he accept a spot on the bench? Nobody asked my opinion, but I think the team should go into relationship-saving mode."
The status is nothing has really changed. Kliff Kingsbury acknowledged the team had talked to Hicks prior to skipping minicamp. I would guess the team will see if Hicks can find a team that might want to trade. I'll say this -- if they indeed gave him that permission, they already must have a backup LB plan in place if they don't have Hicks, right? I haven't talked to Jordan so I have no idea exactly what his mindset is right now.
From Billy English:
"Do you think this is a make-or-break year for Jalen Thompson from the standpoint of health? Otherwise, it's arguable that we may need to start searching for that permanent second safety to pair with Budda. We haven't had a firm safety duo since A-Dub and Rolle? I know Rashad/Tyrann/Rhodes/Dub all sorta had the positions at times, but it never really last longer than a year or two. We need Budda+another young star to lock it down for the next five or six years."
Let me start on the second point -- the next five or six years? That's not happening, because if you have two guys that are that good, you start getting into big contracts and you're usually not spending huge money on two guys at the same position. Tough to build a roster if you do. As for Thompson, no I don't see this as make-or-break per se. I know they can't necessary wait forever, and they have made sure they have some safety options if Thompson goes down. I understand that availability is as important as ability. So does Thompson, ultimately.
From Maddy Sanchez:
"Not to be a broken record, but it's bothersome how it seems the Cardinals have given up on Josh Jones at right tackle. He should not be competing for the right guard spot when there are already three others there. Learning two positions is nonsense. He should be focused 100% on tackle, even if as a backup. Josh hasn't even gotten an offseason at tackle yet. Not a preseason. Guy was a third-round pick only one year ago. What are they doing?"
If Jones can't beat out Beachum at right tackle but he's one of your five best linemen, why wouldn't you want him in the lineup? Also, if he is backup RT, usually you want those guys to be able to fill in at a second spot -- guard -- if they are active on game days. This would ultimately be Sean Kugler's call, and I'm pretty sure he's got the experience to understand what Jones is and isn't capable of handling.
From Chris K:
"Hey Darren. I'm not a combine/measurables guy, but I keep seeing Zaven described as 'speedy.' His pro day 40 was a 4.66, which is blazing fast for a shlub like me (and you too, readers; don't leave me hanging), but for a NFL LB that isn't particularly 'speedy.' Comparing it against the 40 times listed for the 2020 draft LBs, a 4.66 would be average. Simmons ran a 4.39. That's speedy. Not that it matters, but it just keeps popping up and it strikes me as odd. His measurables certainly don't indicate Zaven is fast."
You keep using speedy in quotation marks, which would indicate a quote. I don't ever remember anyone making that comment about Collins. That said, he and Simmons are two totally different players playing two totally different roles. Collins does have fluid movements to go sideline-to-sideline, and he's going to be much better suited with his mass (he is about 260 pounds) to work within the box. I think Collins has plenty of speed to do the job for which he is tasked.
From Red 1 BB:
"What's the endgame of Chandler's camp holdout? We know the team wants to see him perform before talking extensions. So there's no way he's getting paid yet. Chan surely knows that. So what's the point of not coming to camp? It bugs me in the article when you say 'it's business.' What business? This isn't an Aaron Rodgers situation. A-Rod is angling for a new deal, and will get one. Chan has a 0% chance at a new deal right now. There's no business to discuss. So that leads me to believe it's not $$$ oriented. Perhaps Chan just doesn't want the injury exposure?"
I'll make one thing clear -- Chandler Jones has not come out and said he missed minicamp because he wants a new contract. We are making that assumption, helped by the fact teammates D.J. Humphries and Budda Baker both made reference to it being a business decision. So maybe it was an injury thing -- although if it was that, you would still show up, and just not practice. But Red, I gotta tell you, what are you thinking with the Rodgers' comparison? This is exactly the same situation, if it is the contract. I'd argue Jones has more right to be looking for a new deal (knowing he's in the last year of his contract) than Rodgers (who is signed through 2023.) I'd also disagree he's got no chance at the extension right now. I am guessing he wouldn't agree to an offer the Cards would be willing to put forth at this point, but you never say never.
From John McGill:
"Hey Darren. A couple of months ago I wrote you and told you how I thought we needed to give Kyler Murray a break because he has accomplished a lot in his first two seasons. For those Kyler Murray haters all I have to say is how quickly do they forget. First season, he only had Fitzgerald and Kirk that perform consistently. Most of the other receivers dropped more passes than they caught. He still had a pretty good season. Last year, he got an upgrade with Hopkins and load and behold so did his performance. Now in season three he got another upgrade of receivers. Can you see where I am going here? In my opinion, he is improving more than he is falling back. I for one am excited to see what he can do this next season. Did Bo Jackson get this much flack when he wanted to play baseball?"
Well, that was a different situation. Bo told the Buccaneers he wouldn't play for them if they drafted him, and when they did, it made it easy for him to decide to play baseball (which maybe he would've anyway.) And then he committed to baseball first. When he played football, it was only after the baseball season was over, and he played running back -- a much easier position to play with split attentions. I have said on our podcasts I don't think it is realistic on a number of levels for Murray to be able to play both football and baseball simultaneously. I also have noted he gave up baseball -- which he was already committed to -- to play football, so I do not doubt football is his first love, however close that might be. But I don't get wound up when he talks about it, and I'm not sure why people do.
From Sebastian Quiros:
"Hey Darren. Simple and straight to the point. Have you heard anything about signing Bashaud Breeland. He had a pretty solid season in K.C. and would provide great depth and veteran presence. Thanks."
Sebastian, a simple and straight-to-the-point answer. Breeland signed with the Vikings.
From Zane Wayans:
"Any update yet on camp and public availability? We want to watch practice, man. Also since there's only two preseason games does that mean camp is shortened, or do they still keep those two game-less weeks?"
There are actually three preseason games, but right now I expect training camp to remain the same amount of time, beginning in late July. The rules started with the new CBA last year requires five ramp-up days before the players can do padded practice and hitting, so they still want to get on the same schedule. As for camp being open, I fully expect some practices to be open, but we do not have anything official yet. NFL rules will prohibit players interacting with the fans for autographs and pictures, however.
From Chris Murdoch:
"Less of a question and more of a 'relax' statement. I'm a Canadian with a place in Phoenix who is stoked to come down to the desert for an extend period of time this fall after all of the non-travel BS I've had to put up with for the past year. The Cardinals are looking very good right now and everyone needs to be patient and let the team do their thing. If you all were as impatient as the Vancouver Canucks fans (my city) you'd try and burn down the town every year, which doesn't end up well!"
From Phillip Gillam:
"Darren: Old time Cards fan here (57 years). Like you, I don't get some of the hate spewed in the last mailbag towards Kyler Murray. The 5-10 and 8-8 could easily have been 8-8, 10-6 with a few plays here and there, but we are what our record says we are. Where do you see the top side of this year's record? I'm thinking (hoping) 12-5, but will be happy with 10-7, as long as that makes the playoffs. On the flip side, what record puts Kliff on the hot seat? Playoffs or we're done with KK?"
I'm not a big straight prediction guy, especially in June. I think this team has a chance to be a playoff participant. I'd think that would take at least 10 wins, but I don't know. As for Kingsbury, there is way too much nuance that goes into that. They could go 7-10 but games are close and it's injuries or something else that keeps them out of the playoffs, and why would you want a massive change then? It'll all depend on how they get to whatever record they get.
From Boston Mike:
"I told you why it mattered in my original message but you cut it off. So here it is again: the reason that 1 legged Kyler 3rd and long scramble play is different and special from any other play was because it was unfathomably incompetent. Jumping the shark means you've done something so embarrassingly egregious where there is no return. If Kliff can take the time to explain a Streveler hard count that nobody remembers or cares about, then he can take the time to explain the one play that lost him any remaining support he had with fans. Ain't no harm in asking. He's gonna give a non-answer as usual."
I don't know what game you were watching but the Streveler interception, I would argue, was way more important than a 3rd-and-18 that was unlikely to be converted. If "no one" cared about it, I'd argue that this team was missing all the fans because that pick turned the game. Not saying the other play was a good one. But we only get so many questions to ask Kliff, and you're right, it'd be a non-answer most likely, and frankly, it's pointless to me. (And if he lost your support, what good is the answer anyway?)
From Bri Hendrix:
"Dilemma: Who you got in a seven-game series: Nash, Amare, Grant Hill, Channing, Q Richardson or CP3, Book, Ayton, Bridges, Crowder."
I would probably take the second five, because I know they can all play together. That other five never existed as a group. You put the 1992-93 Barkley Suns in there, though, I'm probably going with that team.
From Matthew Stroh:
"Hey Darren. I love the mailbag because it's a lot of different opinions. I don't agree with them all but it's OK. But there's one thing I know -- I love the mailbag and your straight shooting opinion. That's the America I love. So many different people from all across the world and everyone opinion talked about in one forum. Go Cardinals, go Red Sea!!!"
We'll take the endorsement.
From Hal Drummond:
"Do you expect anymore starter-level roster changes coming or is this it? I'll never quit my wish for Calais Campbell to return, but I'd also be happy with Corey Peters. DL is probably where I'm most concerned. Saying 'young guys gotta step up' makes me ill. I'd rather just go get proven guys and not worry about it. How about tight end? Losing Dan Arnold pretty much kills the TE pass targets, unless you think Maxx Williams will now get a boost in targets? That'd be fine."
Well, Campbell plays for the Ravens. I don't know about Peters, but I also have a better feeling about the defensive line than you do (and frankly, the way they will play a lot of the time, you only need two defensive linemen at a time.) Tight end I'd think remains a possibility for an addition -- Kingsbury did say he thought an addition could be made -- but I don't think that is a lock. They don't go into this part of the offseason saying, "We definitely need a starter here." If they do, it's been a bad offseason. If they have an opportunity to get someone in camp that makes sense -- or if a player is underachieving in camp -- that's when these late adds make sense.
From Lorna Green:
"Hi Darren, I have 2 questions (and thank you for this forum - don't know where else I could go for answers). Do you know if The Brew Haus will be open before preseason and/or regular season games? Then, I think Larry Fitzgerald will just not say anything about his future plans -- he just won't be there. Then, Murphy's Law will kick in and we will go to the Super Bowl. My question is, if that happens, is there any way Mr. Bidwill could sign Larry to be on the team for a week or so, assuming he stays in shape?"
I mean, you can always sign players, so in theory, yes, that could happen with Fitz. Don't know that it would. But it could. As for The Brew Haus, none of those details have been solidified yet. Things are looking more and more they will be at least resembling normal by the time we get to games, but nothing is set in stone officially.
From Mike Angerame:
"I had Houston Texas season tickets for 5 years. Now that DeAndre Hopkins, and JJ Watt, two of our most beloved players are wearing red, every NFL fan loves them, I have renounced my allegiance to Houston, and am now with the Cardinals. Already sporting my JJ jersey. I can think one thing your team can do to expand your fanbase and merchandising. Look back to history. Chicago fans are the most insane in the nation, yet few are old enough to know the history of the Chicago Cardinals; the oldest team in the NFL. Now that I live in Chicago, people go nuts of Chicago Cougars (WHL 1973-1974), Chicago Whales jerseys (1913-1915) of the FBL, and have a closet full of NFL throwback jerseys. The Cardinals left for St. Louis in 1959, but their history is completely undermarketed. This team becomes a contender? You could sell out everything Chicago Cardinals. You've got to give me credit, but I have been thinking about this since DeAndre joined; JJ cemented the deal. Ship 99s to Dicks in Chicagoland, and they will sell out in an hour."
It's an interesting thought in the heart of Bears-land.
From Rick Lord:
"Darren, what do the metrics say about Kyle's fill-in week on the mailbag? I don't want to fall victim to the fallacy of arbitrary endpoints and small sample sizes, but his answers from questions two through five seemed pretty solid. I realize that he fell a bit short of his predicted Pythagorean Paragraph Theorem response totals, but obviously tone can be fluky with high variance. Would it be fair to say that clever, circular writing, with appropriate quips here and there are the best predictive measures for future success? Just wondering what the NextGen stats say about his performance. Thanks!"
I think it's only fair for Kyle to answer this one: "The page views were substandard, but you bring up some good points. Is one mailbag a big enough sample size to judge a fill-in? Did anyone realize I battled a thumb injury halfway through and still finished the article? Darren has had years to figure out the perfect mailbag cadence, so shouldn't I be graded on a curve? The early returns weren't good, but don't count out a second-mailbag leap this summer."