The Cardinals are 7-0, and never have they been 8-0. Couldn't be more interesting of a Thursday night game. And then there is the always interesting mailbag. As always, you can send a question for a future mailbag here.
From Nat Shelley:
"Hi Darren. Question/suggestion - with the upcoming Thursday night Green Bay game, perhaps the media team should put together a montage of recent GB matchups, because in case you didn't realize, the AZ v GB history is incredible. In our last 6 matchups, we are 5-1. Last time we played them, we got their head coach fired. Prior to that we had a couple of the most amazing playoff games of all time. AZ v GB is always a classic. It's weird. I still remember that 51-45 shootout with Warner that ended on a defensive TD. How can you not be romantic about football?"
Nat, I appreciate the heads up, but considering I attended each one of those games, trust me, I'm not going to forget -- for instance, I do not forget in the last six matchups, the series is actually 3-3, not 5-1. (As a bonus, we have Folktales episodes on each of those two playoff games, including one Wednesday.)
From Richard Sousa:
"Was that you I saw down on the sideline during Sunday's game with a headset on? It looked like you and I thought maybe you were getting some really good insight for us. Also , when is Rodney Hudson expected to return? We need him back badly. If he's out longer than 2-4 weeks, can Larry play center?"
Um, no. I was in the press box. I hope it was a different sideline reporter, because I'm going to be really disappointed if you mistook Paul Calvisi for me. As for Hudson, he had to miss a minimum of three games, so he is eligible to come back after the Packers game. That doesn't mean he definitely will return next week, but the option is there.
From Perry Walker:
"Darren, pump this site up. This is the best Cardinals' team you have ever covered. Best in the league. Give us at least one article that is not a conservative view. The gloom and doom was warranted in the past when the team was mediocre. Not the case this year, you must make hay while the sun is shining."
Not sure what is a conservative view. If you are talking about hype pieces, that's not what I do. We have social media and YouTube for that. My job is to let you know what the news is. This team has been tremendous. But when the quarterback is irritated every week that there were missed opportunities, I'm going to write that. I'm going to talk about slow starts, just like I'll talk about dominating defensive performances. And to be honest, I'm not sure where you are getting gloom and doom consistently.
From Jared Crawford:
"Not that anyone keeps track, but would you say that was the most Kyler has ever taken multiple hard hits in a single game? We see one every once in awhile. But he took at least three dusters. That was rough to watch. Just for future reference we can always say 'remember the Texans game, he got blown up.' "
Careful, Jared, I don't know if Perry is going to like the tone of the question. But off the top of my head, it did seem like that was the roughest game for Kyler. Usually if he's being sacked, he manages to avoid the hits in the process. That obviously wasn't the case against the Texans. Look, every QB is going to go through that once in a while. That might be the biggest key of the NFL -- keeping your star QB healthy. We know what happens to teams when they cannot.
Froom Blake Simmons:
"In the locker room speech video, who's that cat in the tan suit? He dresses like a down-South televangelist."
That "cat" is senior VP of media relations Mark Dalton, and as a native of the Philly area, he's about as non-down South as they come.
From Walt Nailer:
"Were you at all surprised they didn't replace right guard Josh Jones at some point vs. Houston? Not as punishment. As recognition that today, this particular defensive lineman had his number. Overall Jones is our best RG but, the DL has keyed in on something, and is beating him badly. A backup RG simply offers something new and arguably a better chance of success on this particular day."
Not really. I guess I wouldn't have been shocked had they made a move, but Jones is young, he's going to have rough patches, and in the end, the offense figured it out. I know these guys are professionals, but sometimes, you have to let a young guy take some lumps. (Yes, I know when it comes to protecting Murray, there is a fine line. But I also believe Sean Kugler knows what he is doing.)
From Brent Snyder:
"Hey Darren. I am loving the post game victory speeches, it makes us feel a little like a part of the team getting to sneak in and listen. My question is on the 'game balls' coach hands out. Do the players actually get a physical game ball, or is it just a symbolic game ball? As a fan I think getting a game ball would be just plain awesome, but as a player, I would imagine a few players have no more room to display or store these! Thx Darren...you have an amazing week!"
The game balls handed out are indeed real. After the "ceremony," the team takes them back to have them painted with the player's game and date and score. And you are right -- for the right players, they will have accumulated quite a few in their careers.
From Bill Thompson:
"Who cares where the so-called 'experts' rank us, power rating or whatever? Way to go Cards; keep playing one game at a time! One comment/question - I would like to see Kyler up under center for a few plays each week. Give the defense more to think about. What is your opinion on that, Darren? Thanks for making this season great!"
I appreciate the props, but I don't have anything to do with making the season great -- that's the guys in the locker room. As for Kyler under center, he is already been under center more often percentage-wise than years past. The reality is Kyler and Kliff prefer shotgun, and so the vast majority of the plays are going to be done that way. I don't see it changing.
From Cy Fredrick:
"Thanks for the mailbag DU! Cap space question. When they restructure a contract like they did with Jordan Phillips, is there a winner and loser in the deal? Are players like that open to restructuring or is it viewed as they don't want to do it, but their hands are tied sort of thing? Secondly, $2M in cap space doesn't mean much to me. Can you explain how this might affect the cardinals this year, next year, long term? Thank you!"
Again, there is a difference between a restructure (player gets all his money that he had coming to him, just more now) and a paycut (which is exactly what it sounds like.) Teams talk to players about restructures, but in the end, yes, it basically will get done if the team wants it done. Again, the player gets more money up front in a bonus, so they come out ahead in that respect, and the team gets cap space. It's win-win IMO.
As for the cap space situation, anytime a team is restructuring, it means it is eventually going to have some cap space eat into future seasons so they don't have it now. That's what is called "dead money" against the cap. Using very round numbers, let's say the Cardinals were going to have at this moment $70M in cap space for 2022, and after this pushes, say, a new $2M of cap hit into next season, the Cards space falls to $68M. It doesn't sound like much, but you don't want a bunch of dead money of you can avoid it since that space tends to disappear quick once contracts start to be signed.
From Cindy Dobbins:
"With Rodney Hudson having to miss 3 games, is he eligible to return for the Packers game or does it have to be three full weeks before he returns?"
It is three games not weeks, but that's at a minimum. If he's not healthy yet he could be gone longer. Hudson last played in the 49ers game, so the three games he must miss in the least are Browns, Texans, Packers. He could in theory return for the road game in S.F.
From Simon from China:
"Hi Darren. Just wanted to let you know this season is especially hard for me. As my nickname suggests, I am probably one of the very few Cards fans from China. To watch the games live, I have to set my alarm to Monday 1 a.m., 4 a.m. or 4.30 a.m., depending on the kickoff time. In past seasons, I might have let a few games slip (not in the mood to watch Josh Rosen) and just watched the condensed replays on GamePass. This season however, the success of the team is forcing me to wake up every Monday. My wife thinks I'm crazy. Just saying."
That is true dedication, and hopefully, the joy you get from the games is worth the lost sleep.
From Bo Mildin:
"Hi Darren. This is an unfair crystal ball question, but it bears talking about. Chandler Jones contract. By no fault of his own, he will now have gone sack-less in 4 straight games, and then missed 2 with Covid. He had his flurry which was awesome. But one game doesn't get you paid. So he's running out of time. Furthermore, 32-year-old pass rushers don't get 25-year-olds contracts. Von Miller is in the same boat. So do we have a Calais situation, where we just let him go and find a young replacement, or offer him market value, which will undoubtedly be less than he wants. I'm a big tea leaves guy (i.e. conspiracy theorist) and I've noticed every time Keim is pressed on Chan, he talks about 'decisions' and occasionally ropes the A-Dub story into it. Not a great sign."
I don't know if I would equate reading the tea leaves to conspiracy theories, but that's a debate for another forum. As for the Jones situation, I would think that yes, this last stretch has complicated things. I don't know what is going to happen. Don't forget, they actually did offer Calais a contract, and not a small one. They didn't quite hit the same number as Jacksonville, but it was the years that Campbell could not pass up. I have no doubt they will try and re-sign him. Now, whether that deal is what Jones can/would get elsewhere, no way to know. The rest of his season will be fascinating to watch.
From Steven Stardevant:
"I apologize for the length of this narrative, but I would l have a couple of pent-up conceptions to deport. First, I have noticed in the mailbag that a number of inquiries concern themselves which such topics as 'Why did we draft player A, when player B was available,' and 'Why did we ever let player C go to another team rather than pay him' and 'Why is player D never played by the coaches.' I believe your responses are sound. One might say hindsight is 50/50 but I believe that hindsight is also shortsighted. To me it is more like 98/2. In my humble opinion, coaches and personnel are so much more educated and experienced than many readers give them credit for, and I would assume much more accurate or they would be employed in a different vocation. Next, much like arguing and debating with one's spouse, we rarely win the battle all of the time.
"Offensive lineman are going to give up sacks, defensive backs are going to get beat and kickers are going to miss. There are three rudimentary reasons for this. One, the opponents are often, on any given Sunday play, are better and play better. Secondly, the opponent is also fighting for his next paycheck or trying to beat out the guys both in front of him and behind him and honestly, he is giving 100% to beat our man. And thirdly, sometimes in life and football we just miss. Sometimes they win and sometimes we lose. Finally, I admire your patience and understanding with your readers although if often comes with a tad of a sardonic rejoinder. My question for you is; do you know if Ring Lardner is still on the trading block and if so, what are your thoughts about Chicago?"
So are you trying to get rid of me? Besides, if we're talking trade, you have to inquire about Grantland Rice first.
From Stacy Teague:
"Darren, I've been a fan since 1988 when the club moved to the Valley, playing at Sun Devil Stadium. I love the way these guys are playing, my heart hopes they make it all the way, but my head says they're going to falter at some point. That being said, my question is this: since Larry Fitzgerald's departure from the team with him not likely coming back in as a player, would he consider, or would the organization consider bringing him in as a coach? He's a hell of a leader and would definitely help with his experience to those young and older receivers alike."
Fitz has a lot of interests. You know what one is not? Coaching. He knows the hours those guys put in. He would have zero (less than zero) interest in that. So no, it has not been considered.
From Matthew Stroh:
"Hello Darren thank you for the mailbag. I love your blunt and honest answers. Did you have time to watch this week Debate This? I think we might have seen DeAndre Hopkins biggest fan, Felipe Corral Jr. I love Hopkins but I agree with Dani that Kyler Murray should keep spreading the ball around to everyone. What is your opinion whether Felipe is Hopkins biggest fan? Also should Kyler Murray focus only on Hopkins or keep spreading the ball? Last question who do you think won the Debate This week? Keep up the great work. GO CARDINALS!"
I do not know if Felipe is Hop's biggest fan. I would guess there are bigger fans. I think the way the Cardinals have run the offense thus far is pretty smart. Hop will have his moments and games. If it's not broke, don't fix it. Finally, I always -- always -- defer to moderator Jacob when it comes to who wins Debate This, and that has nothing to do with the fact I've won every time I've been on.
"Hey Darren. Long-time listener, first-time caller. The psychology of when a team is winning and feeling a part of thereof is interesting to me. Many comments concerning the Cardinals contain 'we' or 'us' versus 'they' or 'them.' Everyone likes to be a part of success instead of failure inherently, I guess but the transparency to 'bandwagon' seems simplistic. Have you noticed this? The more the merrier? More important question though (and feel free to ask your son), if Daryl Washington came back, would it be as a tight end?"
If you are asking if there are more fans who reference "we" when it comes to talking about the team, no, I feel like that is all the time -- which is weird to me, since I actually work here and don't feel comfortable saying we. Because it really isn't we. Also, on the DWash question, the only answer is, of course, if D-Wash came back, he would have to make sure he had a house in Chandler.
From Albert Fuller:
"Hey Darren, I'm a long time fan and I worked security at Sun Devil Stadium the day the goal post came down just wanted to put that in there. I noticed someone asked the question about the matchups against the Rams going forward and the Packers, and Cowboys (all those teams are good opponents). We might get our first loss to one of those teams (hopefully not). My question is would you think we will have more of a challenge against the reigning Super Bowl champions Tampa and a reunion with Bruce Arians in the playoffs?"
I know this isn't the kind of answer you want, but let's pump the brakes here. Yes, of course any game against the Bucs would be fascinating, given all the ties to the Cards. But you know the other teams are on the schedule and the Bucs matchup may or may not happen. Tough for me to weigh on something like that, especially since by the time it would happen in January you have no idea how healthy each team will be nor how they will be playing.
From Ed Shippen:
"I just read your blog post on our running quarterback. Yes the runs that COUNT in the stats, are down, but I seem to remember several scoring runs by Kyler that were called back. I believe there were three runs for touchdowns that were called back. There were also some other runs called back for holding that were not touchdowns. I believe that Kyler is doing just fine and everyone has adjusted their schemes so he is making teams adjust for him. Should open up other options for us. Go Cards!"
The post wasn't meant as a slam. It was pointing out his development and the development of the offense. It is a good thing. You are correct, there have been a few runs this season called back for penalty. But 1) how successful are the runs without the holding calls, and 2) even if they all counted, his running totals would still be noticeably lower.
From Gary Henderson:
"Hey Darren. I want to discuss Deshaun Watson and this strange philosophy we see in practice, in the NFL. This is a heavy topic so I understand if you don't feel comfortable discussing it. How is it a player (any player) can be rightfully suspended by their team for alleged acts that would typically result in expulsion from the NFL, but then be traded to a new team and start immediately? Am I alone here, is that not bizarre? I don't get it."
I see where you are going to a point. Whether you want to argue about whether a guy -- any player -- does something bad enough to be banned from the league is a debate unto itself. But I disagree that a player would be expelled from the NFL on one team and then goes to another team and nothing ever happens. Take Kareem Hunt in Cleveland. He was punished with an eight-game suspension. It would've been the same had the Chiefs kept him or the Browns signed him. Now, the Chiefs cut him because they didn't like the optics, and yes, I understand why you find it had to grasp why a player's misdeeds would be enough to get him cut one place yet another team is willing to sign him. That leaves me scratching my head myself.
From Domingo Castillo:
"Hey Darren, why so many penalties erased a good play on punt or kick returns? So often, those penalties are away from the play and couldn't help the runners in the least. I can understand when protecting against an injury or a score, a penalty is preferable. My other question is why isn't the football media held accountable for the idiotic statements they say. 'Cardinals will Crush the 49ers,' (mentioned repeatedly) -- Card fans know that 49ers don't just throw in the towel. 'Vikings coach is on hot seat,' Vikes should have beat Cardinals, with very probable field goal. Vikes could have won 3-4 other games, but lost at the waning minutes. List goes on & on. I know it fires up some fans but ALL the fans have to tolerate the nonsense."
It feels like you're getting pretty heated, Domingo. The rules are the rules, and I can't tell if you're saying on punt and kick returns officials shouldn't throw flags unless it impacts the play or suggesting you are angry at players for not avoiding those penalties. As for the "football media," you are of course free to ignore it. I don't think you're going to be able "fix" that anytime soon.
From Riley Jun:
"Hi Darren! I'm not sure if you would know the answer or not, but what happened to Cards OT? After every there would be a little post game thing with Bertrand Berry and Jody Jackson and sometimes Ron. I use to love that. Do you know where it went, and if its coming back? Thanks!"
Cards OT was a casualty of the pandemic. I'm not sure if it will be returning ever, but until we get to the point where it is easier for players to interact with media, I don't see it as a possibility.
From Troy Ezeh:
"On Wednesdays, veterans like Corey Peters and D Hop (just to name a few) usually get a rest day and don't practice. Just curious, do you happen to know what veterans usually do when they take Wednesdays off as the rest of the team is practicing? Are they on the sidelines watching the entire practice? Are they doing individual drills? Watching film? Working out? Thanks as always for all of the useful content!"
Most of the time they are inside the weight room doing workouts of some kind. Sometimes they come out for the later part of practice to get some mental reps.
From MC Jones:
"Hey Darren. What was life like in the Cardinals facility with the Covid outbreak? Are there extra restrictions on journalists getting face-to-face time with players? Are players kept apart from one another outside of meetings/practices? Or is it mostly business as usual, just with masks and tests?"
When the Cardinals were in intensive protocols, everyone in the building were wearing masks, and the Tier 1 and 2 people had to go through daily testing. They were more spaced in meetings. Journalists are only working in press conference situations, and we are required to wear masks there even when there was no outbreak.
From Sebastian Quiros:
"Hey Darren. I got a quick question about the mic'd-ups. Every game there's only one mic'd up player for us, but some clips show other players speaking and you can hear them on the clips. Is that just like a camera mic that picks up they're voice or are multiple players mic'd up and we just get one? I doubt it's the last one but no harm in asking."
When you are watching a mic'd up, yes, other players are being picked up on that mic. That's why a lot of time you see at the beginning of one of those the player telling his teammates "I'm mic'd." They are warning them.
From Aussie Steve:
"Hey Darren. Long time mailbag reader, first-time writer. I'm a Cardinals fan in Australia and loving what I've been seeing of this team so far this year! I keep up to date on Cardinals news through podcasts and watching ESPN through a streaming service. After such a statement win in Cleveland with all the COVID dramas to remain the only undefeated team, it's amazing to me how little attention this effort is getting in mainstream NFL media. Will it take beating the Packers in a prime time TNF game for Arizona to be taken seriously? I know winning in December and January is all that matters. It seems missing the playoffs last year is being remembered more than the results against quality opponents this season. Regardless of what the national media are saying (or not saying), my enthusiasm is sky high. I'll be cheering the Cardinals on proudly every week. The Red Sea is rising up!"
To be honest, and I know I've said this before, I just don't get worked up about the attention. I understand why it happens, and it will continue to happen unless the franchise is winning big more consistently.
From Jak Lupin:
"Hey Darren. You touched on it a little bit already but you gotta feel bad for Josh Mauro. The guy has obviously proven to be a reliable emergency call. So why not just keep him? You know? Its stressful being a free agent or a practice-squad floater. The guy has paid his toll. I wont name names but I see guys at the end of the roster who don't even dress anymore. Why cant Mauro get a full-time gig? Huh? He deserves it."
I'm sure Josh would appreciate you. But such is the life of a guy where Mauro is in his career. I get what you are saying but if he is going to be out there on the market, you don't have to keep him around all time necessarily. Besides, when everyone is available, we will see if he is still here.
From Matthew Savard:
"Fan from Alberta Canada, I didn't ask because I thought surely (don't call me Shirley lol) someone would have. Anyway, we are over the cap right now, how long can a team be over the cap before penalties kick in? Is there another move or two coming? Or do they restructure contracts to get under? Not sure how it works. I was hoping for another pickup before the deadline as well but I doubt that's possible. Go Cards!"
The Cardinals were never over the cap. The places you might see that -- like overthecap.com -- only can get the information so fast. But teams have to make sure they are cap compliant before any trades go through. We know they restructured Jordan Phillips to do so, so they had to make sure that was all in place prior to finalization of the deal. If a team doesn't have the cap room, the league would've rejected the trade. There are not penalties per se, they just wouldn't be able to make any roster moves.
From Ryan Maupin:
"Hey Darren! Arizona native and lifelong Cardinal fan here who unfortunately lives in Illinois now with limited Cardinal coverage so I look forward to reading every article on this website! But, nothing entertains me more than picturing your expression when you're reading some of the most laughable 'I'm ashamed that someone rooting for the Cards could ask a question so pathetic.' Lol, so other than this one, from the many seasons you've done mailbag, is there one question that just stood out there as one that made you think, 'Is this a friggin joke?!' Thanks Darren for your work and true love for our Cardinals!"
To be honest, I never really have. Even the over the top questions, or the ones that get repetitive (uniforms, Fitz) I can have some fun with. I guess the only ones are the angry ones. I don't understand the angry ones, no matter what about.