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You've Got Mail: Rams Week, Part One

Topics include broken plays, Isaiah Simmons, and Murphy on Adams

Mailbag Zeke Turner 092022

Welp, that was a heck of a way to live through a Sunday. Changes some of the tenor of the mailbag too -- you can tell the questions that come in before and after, that's for sure. As always, questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From Robert Malicki:

"Hello, Darren, for we Cardinal fans of the far distant Chicago days seeing the 'hold yer breath' ending to the Raider game is nearly indescribable. Makes me remember that famous line 'Just win baby.' My question has to do with returning to the days when fans could glimpse the post-game locker room? It would have been raucous? Were you there? Fans seeing who gets a game ball and the back-slapping camaraderie would have been uplifting."

No, I was not in the locker room. But we have the video.

Fro Reed Walberg:

"I was on the road listening to the game on the AM and they said something out of halftime about the coaches ran out on the field without the team? The implication being there was a players-only meeting at half time? You got a scoop on that? Would love to hear the details."

I don't have any. Ron Wolfley asked Kliff Kingsbury about it on his radio show. Kingsbury just said the Cardinals had some leaders step up. No confirmation on any players-only meeting.

From Frank P:

"Happy for the win, but concerned about Kliff's offense. If you take a second and think back to the Murray 20-second scramble TD and the two- point conversion to Green, both were broken plays. Murray magic and nothing else converted those plays. While Im grateful to have such a talented QB, I don't like the fact his OCs (and HCs) offense falters so often. Kliff's job is to create easy completions. Get guys open via X and O. Murray shouldn't have to pull off miraculous plays like that because I promise that luck will run out. Strange to say but I think our $47M per year QB is working too hard out there."

Well, a lot of the passes that led up to the two two-point conversions (the 20-second play was a two-pointer) were within the offense and seemed to work OK. The conversions are always gonna be tough. You have one play to get in the end zone and the defense knows that. They dropped right guys in coverage on the long one, and on the second one, they took the delay of game, making a run even harder (and even easier to defend knowing a play to the end zone has to be made.) I'm not going to deny that you'd like to have to lean on your QB less to make such plays, but are you making the same arguments with Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson?

From Andrew:

"Hey Darren, is Hopkins with the team right now? I didn't see him on the sidelines during the Vegas game. It was good to have Watt back but I was disappointed Mullen didn't play. It's not a great sign he's still unable to go"

Hopkins is suspended so no he's not with the team. He is not allowed to be around the team or at the facility until his suspension ends following the Oct. 16 game in Seattle. As for Mullen, I think he's close and it wouldn't surprise me if he played Sunday.

From Raine Voights:

"Isaiah Simmons questions for you.

  1. How reduced was his role vs the Raiders?
  2. Is he still a starter?
  3. Who replaces him when he is out?
  4. Can that forced fumble play win the trust back of his team?"

Isaiah Simmons answers for you:

  1. He played 15 of 67 snaps Sunday after playing 100 percent of the snaps against the Chiefs.
  2. TBD, but I wouldn't be shocked if he was back in the lineup.
  3. Dennis Gardeck was essentially in place of Simmons when the game started, but I don't think there was a 1-to-1 replacement.
  4. I don't think it's the team, it's the coaches. And if he has lost trust, that play helps but it wouldn't do it on its own.

From Jay Lerner:

"Hi Darren. What a THRILLING GAME! But I cannot shake one major 'WHAT THE HECK DUDE?!?' moment. A bomb to Hollywood on 4th-and-1? WHY? You need ONE YARD. Any other QB in the NFL QB sneaks that. Heck, put in McSorley and let him QB sneak it. Put in Ertz to take the direct snap and let him QB sneak it. I get Kyler isn't 6'5. Which is why you put in someone who is. Watt. TE Anderson. Josh Jones. I think in the history of the NFL a QB sneak on a 4th and half yard has something like a 102% success rate (someone check my math). STOP bombing it 40 yards when YOU ONLY NEED UNO!"

Well, I'm going to take into account that you were irrationally emotional when you wrote this, judging both by your oft-use of capital letters and your misguided info. I get the concept of wanting to run, but this idea that it's 100 percent if you run it up the middle is simply incorrect. (Oh, and when you put a non-QB in there, by the way, I'd bet your chances plummet since there is no chance of a pass.) I liked the call. It was a good call. He was wide open, and he caught it. The Raiders made a great play. But it fooled them. We can agree to disagree.

From Chris F:

"This may be a stretch, but this win reminds me of the OT win against the Cowboys in 2008. Did that blocked punt TD give the team the boost it needed to get through the middle of the season that year? Do you see any similarities to this team's reaction to Sunday's win?"

The Sean Morey OT punt block/Monty Beisel TD recovery was a big deal that year. Made the Cardinals 4-2 and stamped them as a contender. That said, the 2008 team started 7-3 and finished 9-7, so I'm not sure the momentum lasted. For this team, they need to play complete games. Miracle comebacks aren't sustainable.

From Aaron Salvo:

"Hi D. I was curious - was our success vs Adams attributed to stellar play from Murphy, or were we double-teaming him? Maybe you've seen game film, or at least understand the D better than me. But I was blown away by the fact that guy only had 12 yards. He can have the lone TD. I was thinking he might get 3 or 4 lol. If we were double teaming him all day, cool. Great game plan by Vance. But if Murphy was shadowing him ala young P2, that deserves immense praise."

It was a mix, sometimes Murphy taking him one-on-one, sometimes the Cardinals working a bracket. But Murphy had a nice game in Vegas all the way around, and of course, it is something this team desperately needs.

From Lia James:

"Hi Mr.Urban, from the telecast it seemed like there were a lot of Cardinal fans in the building? Would you say we can a sizeable crowd there, or was it about average? I can't wait to fly up for a Cards v Raiders game. Which I wanted to ask, when is the next one? I don't understand the schedule system at all. I know it's on rotation or something."

There were a good number of Cardinals fans there. Certainly not anywhere near 50-50, but for the short trip to Vegas, it makes sense. More than most road games. As for the Raiders. the Cardinals only play them every four seasons, and then it flip-flops, so the Raiders will visit Arizona in 2026 and then the Cardinals go back to Vegas in 2030. The one way that can change -- the Cardinals could see the Raiders in 2024 in the 17th game if they each finish in the same divisional spot in 2023, but that game would be in Arizona.

From Jayson Wing:

"During the Murphy fumble return, was that Adrian Wilson in the suit, running stride for stride along the sidelines? Reminds me of Fitz's TD in the playoffs versus Green Bay in overtime and A-Dub was the first to congratulate Fitz!"

You are correct, that was Cardinals VP of pro personnel A-Dub running the sideline. You can take the player out of the game, but you can't take the game out of the player.

From Cole Savannah:

"For the record, I agree with the sentiments that Kyler has much improved as a leader this season. But I want to address the argument that you always make when people bring up Kyler's demeanor. You always say 'Brady and A-Rod throw tantrums too." True, but there's a context there. They are also rah-rah, clear leadership guys. They balance out the negative emotional moments with pep talks and teaching moments for teammates. Up until recently Kyler was exclusively a tantrum guy with no visible rah-rah or pep talks. That's the difference."

We can agree to disagree. One, I'm not around those other guys much, but I've never seen Rodgers in particular but Brady too be any kind of significant "rah-rah" guy. Not any more -- when things are going well -- than Murray. You can talk about the leadership, but there is absolutely a double standard. You can't justify it all you want, but it exists.

From BDUB Wooten:

"Darren, what is the cap hit if the Cards were to cut JJ Watt? I mean I don't think I've ever been more frustrated with a free-agent signing. He's given the Cards absolutely nothing for two years but he's still collecting that paycheck. I think he'll just get hurt again. Also, big win against the Raiders. You can't take Greg Dortch out of the line up even when Rondale comes back. I know he doesn't have the height but he's faster, quick twitch and has better hands than A.J. Green. Hollywood and Dortch until Rondale shows something. Second thing, Darrell Williams looks powerful and FAST for a big guy. He should get more snaps even at the expense of Eno."

For starters, it would cost the Cardinals more on the cap if they let Watt go than if they keep him. But it's a moot point, because they wouldn't anyway. They need him on the field, and it was good he played Sunday. I thought he helped. To say he's done nothing is wrong; they felt his loss last season when he got hurt. Badly. As for Dortch, we will see what role he has, but I don't see them going that small. Dortch and Rondale and Hollywood is simply too tiny of a receiving corps in my opinion. I do agree Williams looked good; how they dole out time when Conner is healthy will be something to watch.

From Rise Up Red Sea:

"Hi Darren. Appreciate the mailbag as always. I wanna talk about a REAL position of need for the team. Now everyone is saying they need a CB or an edge rusher and I get that. But I think that they are looking at the wrong position to improve. What I think the Cards need is more INTERIOR pressure from the D-line. We can't just rely on JJ, we need more. I'm sorry but Leki Fotu and a tad bit of Rashard Lawrence are not the answer."

I can see that argument, but as long as Watt is here -- and healthy, hopefully -- they aren't going to get another high-priced defensive lineman in right now. I know Suh is available, but I don't see it.

From Tim Tekulve:

"Darren, thank you for the mailbag, I read this every week. I attend all games and started to think about the home losses we had at ASU Stadium and how uncomfortable they were. Games at State Farm Stadium are more comfortable and we should have a big edge. Bruce Arians wouldn't put up with this and would make sure his Cardinals played their best games at home, at least that's my recollection. What is the home record for Arians vs. Kliff Kingsbury?"

Thus far, Kliff is 9-14-1 at home. Arians was 28-11-1.

From Allan Cain:

"What is the strategy for utilizing Keaontay Ingram by the Cardinals for this season? Thanks."

I think the strategy will be unless there is a rash of injuries, he'll be inactive. With four veterans ahead of him, I don't know if he's needed.

From Mail Craig:

"I thought Markus Golden looked slow and sluggish, like running in mud, against the Chiefs. The one guy who was very explosive off the snap, disruptive in the KC backfield, and the only Cardinal to lay a hit on Mahomes was Dennis Gardeck. So why in the hell did he get only 20 snaps? Yeah, OK, you're not inside the coach's head, so that's almost a rhetorical question."

Gardeck's snaps went up to 33 against the Raiders. And Golden definitely had rust to knock off. You break a toe and don't practice, it's going to take some time to recover.

From Matthew Stroh:

"Hey Darren, thank you again for the mailbag. Just got done with the mailbag right now after Week 1 -- OVERREACTION mailbag I mean. I'm not saying we don't have a lot to improve on but WOW. I'm up in the air with the whole preseason big question to play or not to play. I believe there a chance playing maybe a quarter or half with the starters on offense or defense would have helped maybe or maybe we could have had a lot more injuries. What if we start playing better and make it to the playoffs then will anybody ask that question? Do you believe Darren that we need to give the defense and Simmons a few weeks to figure things out or cut every player and coach on the team and just start new?"

As always, appreciate good sarcasm. This question came in before the second game, obviously. The coaches did not give Simmons a few weeks, as we found out. The defense had a good half and a bad half against the Raiders. The Rams will test them on both sides of the ball. Look, I don't know what this team will be yet. They still have to prove some things, not the least of which being consistency. But starting fresh doesn't work midseason so let's see how it plays out.

From Ann Greenberg:

"That 21-second run play by Kyler Murray was amazing and hysterical at the same time. I'm a retired teacher and he looked like a kid in a pickup football game running for his life to get away from the big kids. I laughed so hard, and then he scored! My question -- Is there another QB in the NFL that could do something comparable? Has there ever been a QB that could do something comparable? Thanks."

I mean, Fran Tarkenton back in the day was known as a scrambler, in a much different era. There are guys today that are pretty mobile or can straight run: Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, even Russell Wilson in his prime. But the way that went, with the way Kyler just holds that ball in his right hand regardless of throwing or scrambling, it's hard to picture another guy who is quite the same.

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