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You've Got Mail: Rams Week

AZC_CardinalsMailbag

A rough opener, to say the least. To say there are questions after the Cardinals lost to the Redskins is probably an understatement. So it's good we have a forum for that here, right? By the way, for those not operating in the Twitterverse, we have a way to submit questions. Click here to send in what you want for next week's mailbag or go to azcardinals.com/news and scroll down to find the mailbag area. Anyway, on to the queries.

After just one game, I would think Reddick would remain behind Bynes -- who was the best player on the Cardinals' defense, according to Pro Football Focus -- and Bucannon -- who struggled in the game. The Cards had built this defense this way for a purpose and I don't see them trashing that after just one game. As long as they play nickel and use three safeties, I am guessing Haason will be the odd man out (he played 14 defensive snaps out of 79 Sunday.) Would you expect him to play more, given his first-round status? Yes. He is trying to learn a new role again, but it's fair to have some disappointment that a No. 1 draft pick isn't playing more in his second year, especially when it looked like he would back in the spring.

For me, it's too early to know exactly what it might be. It's so dangerous to base everything on one game. There were significant growing pains early on with Arians. Obviously, the Cardinals right now believe that is all this is. Given the upcoming games, at the Rams and then home against the Bears and Seahawks, we will get a better sense of that very quickly.

I don't know if I agree they looked undersized. There were times when they looked overmatched, but I don't know if that was a talent thing or -- as Steve Wilks keeps talking about -- technique and failing to be in the correct gaps. It is clear, though, if the Cardinals let teams run like the Redskins ran it, it's going to be disastrous. Wilks said many times in the offseason it's important to stop the run because otherwise, it is demoralizing. The Cards got a taste of that.

Of course it didn't mean that, but somehow, I think you know that. Perhaps "nice" wasn't the best adjective, but it is good that Wilks is keeping an even-keel right now. You don't want your head coach to get overly emotional in this situation, and you want him to be confident, especially after just one game.

After they signed Tre Boston, it would seem to be the Tyvon Branch train had left the station. Who are you playing him for? Boston? Bethea? Baker? Also, I wouldn't be sure he's healthy yet. It's possible, but his knee injury was one of those multiple-ligament explosions.

That's the hope. But to me, there's no reason to guess -- we're in the regular season now. We will all know over the next few weeks exactly what kind of team the 2018 Cardinals will be.

We all know that Josh Rosen is on the bench and that Sam Bradford struggled. But to me, it's too early to start to pondering that one. If the offense/Bradford/Cardinals bounce back these next couple games, there's no reason to think about it. If not, it will start to become a topic. Those of us around in 2006 after Matt Leinart was drafted know how that goes. But Wilks has confidence in Bradford, and that hasn't changed after a single game.

What people do with their panic button is a very personal decision. Who am I to dictate said pushing? But I will say this -- September was always going to be a crucial month because the Cardinals had three of their first four games at home. The schedule ramps up considerably after that. There is an urgency. It would be difficult to deny that.

The Cardinals seem to be committed right now to playing mostly nickel, although Budda Baker as the fifth defensive back is certainly getting some linebacker-like work at times. At some point, could they go mostly with Haason Reddick as a third linebacker? Perhaps. But if teams continue to use three wide receivers and DC Al Holcomb remains more comfortable with three safeties, no, it won't change much I wouldn't think.

Both Steve Keim and Steve Wilks have talked often about being competitive. Wilks brought up a few times at the end of the preseason that it would be fine if those on the outside were underestimating the Cardinals but he still had expectations. I don't see that changing. There's no one in the building that would be OK just saying, 'The season is a lost cause as we build for 2019.' That's now how they view it.

The Cardinals didn't play the preseason much differently than most NFL teams. It's how it's done these days, and teams ultimately feel the injury risk isn't worth the extra work key players will get. It's not like they don't take the preseason seriously, it's just that they don't play much of it. In the end, if David Johnson went down with an injury playing in the fourth preseason game, I'm guessing the fan base's reaction wouldn't be, "Well, he needed the work." I'm guessing it would be more of "Why the heck was he out there?"

  1. The Cardinals say poor execution. We will see as we go.
  2. Seals-Jones got six targets, third most behind Fitz and David Johnson. It's not like he was not used.

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