The Cardinals are coming off a rough game in Los Angeles, and now face a desperate Packers team -- in possible snow in Green Bay. Meanwhile, changes are ongoing everywhere on the roster. That is the backdrop for questions this week. As always, you can leave a question for next week's mailbag by clicking here, and if I don't get to yours, I likely answered something similar.
From Matthew Chadduck via azcardinals.com:
"What would be the ideal (realistic) offseason for the Cardinals to get them ready for the Super Bowl next year? Guard and wide receiver in free agency, tackle and cornerback in the draft? What gets us from 2 wins to 12 wins in one year?"
First of all, I'm not sure it's "realistic" to expect to jump 10 wins in one season, however the Cardinals might finish this year. If the Cardinals make the playoffs period next season -- which I think is possible in today's NFL -- that would be a tremendous accomplishment. That said, the Cards have a ton of holes that need addressing. Perhaps a guard in free agency, yes. Wide receiver makes sense too, although we'll see who is on the market. I could see a tackle and cornerback in the draft, as well a a linebacker and maybe a receiver there. But in terms of making a big jump, it won't be just about those positions. The biggest deal will be the progress Josh Rosen makes at quarterback. If he plays well, that makes a huge difference. If he does not, the team will have a tough time winning again.
From Robert Ruelas via azcardinals.com:
"Is going back to the 3-4 defense an option for next season? Seems like Chandler Jones is more dangerous when he’s faking coverage/moving around pre-snap."
I wouldn't necessarily rule it out, but to me, it would be less about Jones and more about what/who you have at linebacker. It'll also depend on who is in charge of the defense.
From Chris Waldrop via azcardinals.com:
"A bit of a light question after a dreary football season. Do you think two of my favorite Cardinals, Darnell Dockett and Karlos Dansby, have any chance of getting into the Ring of Honor? They were a huge part of turning this team around in its heyday."
Well, "any chance" is a wide berth. I wouldn't rule it out, but I'm not sure we're talking soon. Dansby did come back to Arizona three times, but then again, he left twice as a free agent. Dockett, in my opinion, would have a stronger case. But I also don't know who else they might look at, and if there might be some older players potentially in the thought process.
From Garth Short via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, on a scale of 1-10, what do you think are Josh Rosen's chances of developing into a very good NFL QB?"
I'm not sure if this answer means anything -- because it really doesn't -- but I'll play along and say, at this point, 7. He hasn't even had 10 NFL starts, and we all know with what unit he is playing with as a whole. It needs upgrades. So does his play. I think we are way, way early in determining what Rosen will be. But I have seen enough things from him, both on the field and the peek we get into his brain, that I am optimistic.
First, I think the coaches feel the pressure as much as the players. And don't forget, before Taylor was cut, before Smith and Benwikere, the first shot across the bow in terms of being fired was a coach -- Mike McCoy. So that already happened for the coaching staff. As for the GM, he's probably not going to rip people publicly. That doesn't mean he doesn't do it privately. But many coaches and GMs not named Bruce Arians do not like to air dirty laundry in public.
From Jerry Brown via azcardinals.com:
"I know Chad Williams has been injured, but when he has played, has he made much of an impact, or do the Cards need to upgrade there?"
I think it's safe to say Chad Williams still has a ton to prove in terms of whether he can be a viable wide receiver on a consistent basis.
From Maverick Kaye via azcardinals.com:
"With our defense losing three key players (Bynes, Benwikere, Taylor), will we see the Cardinals move back to a base 4-3? If so, do you think there is a chance we could see Zeke Turner and Dennis Gardeck on the field?"
The Cardinals are probably going to stick in the nickel once Budda Baker returns, because they see Bethea, Boston and Baker as three of their top 11 defenders. With Bynes out, you could see Turner, perhaps, but mostly, I think it's a chance to have Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick together to see how many strides those guys have made. We'll see though. At this point, any guys could get some playing time, to see what they can do.
From Louis Cohen via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren, I am just curious if Josh Rosen uses virtual reality like Carson Palmer did? Thanks."
Josh does not really use the VR. Neither did Sam Bradford.
From Jay C via azcardinals.com:
"Why don't the Cards pick better in the draft. We need a system like the Patriots, that pick very smartly and make their team viable every year."
Well, a big part of the reason the Patriots are viable every year is because they have the best coach in NFL history and arguably the best quarterback. The Patriots have had plenty of draft misses too. But yes, the Cardinals need to draft better. That's why 2018 gives some hope, with the number of rookies that have shown potential and are already playing. There have not been enough classes like that, though. And you are correct that building a roster foundation with draft picks is essential for the kind of sustained success Steve Keim wants to have.
From Steve Drumm via azcardinals.com:
"Darren: Tough question but if the Cards finish out the season playing like this and go 2-14, in your opinion should Wilks remain the Cardinals coach going into next season? There is a kind of resignation in his tone and voice now when he does these postgame press conferences."
I'm not sure the record is what Michael Bidwill will look at as much as how the season plays out on the field regardless of outcome. If you go to Green Bay and play the Packers tough and battle the Falcons in Atlanta and even give the Rams a game at home, and Rosen starts showing consistency and the run defense isn't getting shredded, those are steps forward even if the final score isn't in the Cardinals' favor. When you are talking about such a big decision as coach, to me, there are a ton of factors and variables to consider.
From AK via azcardinals.com:
"Do you think our good early starts but bad play for the rest of the game is a product of great scripting by Byron Leftwich but poor personnel?"
I'm not sure what it means. The Cardinals looked fantastic on offense the first 12 minutes of the Chargers game. They also looked good defensively, though, which has nothing to do with Leftwich scripting. The other issue there is that the offense has to try and sustain some things beyond the script, and that falls not only on personnel but coaching too, I'd think. Regardless, the Cardinals need/want to upgrade the receiving corps, and we all know about the offensive line.
From Mark Collins via azcardinals.com:
"I am surprised the Cardinals did not come out (after the Chargers scored to make it 35-10 to start the second half) with a no-huddle, hurry-up offense. We had no urgency! What is your feeling on this Darren?"
Frankly, I would think it was more important to find an offensive drive that had success at that point than urgency. That early in the second half, if the Cardinals have a good drive like they had in Kansas City -- or even like the one to open up the game in L.A. -- that would've been a nice jump-start. Personally, I think that's how this offense needs to operate, especially when the defense is struggling.
From Neil Bowie via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, Wilks claims they didn’t quit but that’s not what it looked like. All the ex-Carolina players he’s brought in have been poor. Throwing twice to Larry? Come on."
I can understand the frustration there and with all the missed tackles, it was not a good look for some players. Some of those tackles were just missed tackles, though. As for the Carolina players, it's not like he brought in Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly. The former Carolina players are guys who have been released by Carolina, and in many cases, used to fill out the Cardinals' roster. Even Bene Benwikere was brought in to be depth -- it just so happened that he eventually found himself as a starter. As for Fitz, I know when a season goes bad, fans are looking for something to root for, and Larry is an obvious choice. I too have been surprised with the lack of targets, but again, the last two games, Rosen has 39 pass attempts combined. There haven't been a lot of passes, period.
Josh Rosen is going to play. As he should.