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You've Got Mail: Rams Week Part Two

Topics include Hard Knocks stars, Anderson's impact, and 'big changes'

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray getting ready in locker room before a home game against the Seahawks on November 6, 2022.
Cardinals QB Kyler Murray getting ready in locker room before a home game against the Seahawks on November 6, 2022.

OK, here we go. The Cardinals fell to the Seahawks, have a desperate Rams team up next. You all are feeling some kind of way. I am feeling some kind of way. We will see how that all goes. Pre-emptive strike to some of the queries that didn't get in: Randomly asking big-picture "what's the answer" about the record doesn't work. If you have specific questions, I can actually respond.

Here is one boilerplate answer for what many have asked: I don't know what will happen in terms of job changes. I still see it as unlikely given the contract extensions. There, I've taken care of 15 questions in one swoop. Meanwhile questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From Matthew Harrison:

"How do we make the playoffs? We're too far behind Seattle, so unless they completely collapse, we're not taking the NFC West. As far as wild cards, either Dallas/Philly is taking a spot no question (look at their schedules) so we're fighting with the 49ers, Rams, Packers, and Giants for two spots. (Maybe the 9ers or Rams win the West but then just replace them with a Hawks team that swept us for the tiebreaker) Looks mighty tough. Any realistic scenarios besides winning out?"

I mean, there are seven spots. In great shape are:

  1. Eagles
  2. Vikings
  3. Cowboys
  4. Giants
  5. Seahawks

So yes, that's two spots left. But the best record out of all the rest of the NFC is the 49ers at 4-4, and the Cardinals get two games head-to-head against them. No other team is more than one game ahead of the Cardinals. I'm not saying the Cards make a playoff run, but it's not crazy to think they could in this year of the NFC.

From Rick Rentschler:

"Darren, great job on the mailbag as it always provides some interesting insights. Any talk of Kliff trying someone new at calling plays (Spencer/Cam). Clearly there are other issues besides playcalling, but with the slow starts, constant long yardage situations and communication issues it seems like trying some new ideas is warranted."

Kingsbury said this week he will remain the playcaller, and that he doesn't see that changing at this point.

From Lane Kidd:

"Any thoughts on how the team will react to being filmed for 'Hard Knocks,' which debuts next week? You know the players. Who do you predict will stand out in the series?"

I expect a lot of the guys who are nationally known: Kyler, Watt, Hop. Personality-wise, who makes sense? I think D.J. Humphries. Zaven Collins. Maybe Isaiah Simmons. Justin Pugh would've been a natural if he wasn't hurt.

From Doom and Gloom:

"Hi Darren. I love Budda Baker so dot dot...but safety is not a blue-chip position and we are paying big money to two safeties. Do you think it likely that when Budda and Jalen Thompson start getting close to the end, that we more likely let them walk? I'm obviously projecting, but we need that money for OL, pass rushers, a premier cornerback, a #No. 2 WR (heck, a No. 3 WR). We also don't have the luxury to be spending top draft picks on ILBs or TEs. Maybe you disagree. Maybe talent is best wherever you can get it, even if it means paying non-blue chip positions."

You seem to be all over the place (and on another note, I get why people won't give an email but I'd sure like for people to give a first name and city, or first name and last initial. I've never understood why people are so afraid to do that.) I don't think that's an issue right now. Baker and JT are two of your best defensive players. They do need to find some of those other things, but this is and always will be fluid depending on who is available. As for the draft, there is an argument on first-round picks not being on ILBs, for instance, but what if you think you've found Patrick Willis? Trey McBride, who was a second-round pick by the way, was taken in part because of the uncertainty with Maxx Williams' health, which has obviously still an issue.

From Neil Billings:

"You've covered this team for a long time Darren. Can you remember a time like this (over the history of the team) when we had plenty of talent, but just couldn't win? What year stands out in your mind as a good comp for this season? The reason I ask is what was the outcome of that? Did they figure it out? Or did they blow it up? What lessons were learned? Because it's happening now."

I agree this team has more talent than it's showing but that doesn't mean it's built for, say, a 8-1 record at this point. Just off the top of my head, this reminds me a bit of the 2016 team -- the one Sports Illustrated picked to win the Super Bowl after reaching the NFC Championship the year before. But that team never found itself beyond David Johnson playing ridiculously well. They didn't blow it up after going 7-8-1, and as you know, they struggled even more in 2017.

From Jesse L:

"I'm excited about the signings of Trysten Hill and Kamu Grugier-Hill, at least for some depth at positions where the Cardinals have lacked. I read that the Cardinals were in talks to trade for Trysten Hill, and luckily were able to claim him off of waivers. I also read in an article that Arizona was in talks with the Texans about a trade. Would that have been for Grugier-Hill? If so, that's great to get two trade targets without giving up any picks. Do you know if the Cardinals were in on anyone else or any other positions that didn't come to fruition?"

I know about Trysten Hill interest. I don't know about Grugier-Hill, although Vance Joseph emphasized that KGH "wanted to be here." How much they can help in the short term remains to be seen. Both will be free agents after the season.

From Wyatt WUC:

"Hi Darren. Is Rondale Moore OK? I don't know if you noticed, but he went off the field with a trainer late in the game, grimacing badly about his right hand. It was quick in the broadcast but crystal clear. He 100% hurt his hand, but to what extent? And why don't we just cut Green? I like the guy. But just business-wise, it's clear he's a healthy inactive for the rest of the year. Let him have a chance to latch on elsewhere. You always need the roster spot."

Well, in part you keep Green because if there is another injury like the one Hollywood Brown suffered,you'll need someone. I think if Green really wanted to go elsewhere, he'd say something. I expect him to remain as insurance the rest of the season. As for Moore, I have not heard anything so we're probably talking about not knowing for sure until Wednesday.

From Kevin Parham:

"What are your expectations of a player after they are traded to your team mid-season? How long before you would expect dividends? Comparing Robbie Anderson to Christian McCaffrey. The trades happened three days apart. Anderson has one catche, while McCaffrey is not just playing but making highlights. Could it be the Cardinals offensive scheme is so complicated that it take a couple of months for a guy to catch on? Why not just work with what you have and wait for Marquise Brown to get healthy."

It was never realistic to think Anderson could produce as fast as Christian McCaffery, in part because CMC is a better player but also because in my opinion, running back is more plug-and-play than wideout. It also goes to each individual player. Kingsbury again talked about Anderson's comfort level, but I agree with the sentiment that he needs to make more of an impact than he has. What will be interesting is that Brown could be back as soon as Nov. 21 -- we will see -- and Anderson will then be at best the fifth pass catcher behind Hop, Brown, Ertz and Moore.

From U.S. Marine:

"Hey Darren, as you can tell from the name, I'm a member of the Armed Forces stationed in Japan, along with my nearly 60,000 fellow service members. Wanted to send this during the month of November to let you know that the NFL doesn't allow an NFL+, Gamepass, or Red Zone subscription to anyone located in Japan. Even paying $100 a month for Hulu+++ will only get the Nationally broadcast games (usually the Cowboys). Wanted to ask if there's any (legal) way to watch the games, and if not, maybe that should be more of a priority for Salute to Service; would be way more thankful for that then seeing a camo-colored towel. Love my Red Birds, despite a tough season, and always appreciate the mailbag."

I believe I have a solution for you, if you want to reach out to me via email ( And thank you to you and all stationed there for your service.

From Juan de la Peña:

"Hi Darren. At what point of the season do you believe the big changes will come?"

I don't know if there will be any "big" changes in-season. I think there is a good chance the Cardinals let the season play out and evaluate it in total. Not saying that's a guarantee but it's my gut feel right now.

From Nick Manley:

"Hey Darren. Not sure if you saw this, a good little thing on Jared Veldheer post-NFL:

"Looking back, I always really liked Jared. I remember when we first signed him from the Raiders, he was the first very good left tackle we'd had, just about ever. There were about two-and-a-half years where he was a lockdown Pro Bowl-caliber LT and it was just blissful as a Cards fan to FINALLY have one. Also goes to show how good Humphries has been for us."

Well, I think Lomas Brown was a pretty good left tackle in his day, as was Luis Sharpe, but I understand your point.

From Wayne Levan:

"Why do the Cardinals have so many players on the 'injury report' every week? Is the trainer not doing his job getting the players ready? Are we only adding older, injury-prone players? Being available to play is the most important ability a player can have."

Why are "you" putting injury report in quotes? Anyway, I think the biggest problem is that NFL football is about as violent of a sport as you can play, and guys get hurt. It stinks when guys get hurt, but I have watched players for too long playing this game on this level up close and personal to question them if they are injured.

From Tom Cowley:

"This is my last question since they are not answered since they are now anti-organizational and you are employed by it. Question is asked by Walter Mitchell and others and the ticket holders: Why is this franchise being allowed to disintegrate from the top down, soon to become an NFL problem?"

Tom, what you have sent in aren't questions. These are complaints allegedly disguised as a question. You aren't the only one. I get many. If people have actual questions to ask, fine. I haven't used a handful of entries lately because they aren't questions -- they are straight complaints. This is not a message board. Go rant on a message board if that's what you want. That's fine. This ain't the place. Also, "soon to become an NFL problem?" That's not even rational thought.

From John Turilli:

"Hello Darren, 1. Is Kyler Murray too short to be an NFL QB? 2. Does Kyler Murray hold onto the ball too long? 3. Does Kliff's college offense work in the NFL? My answers are yes, yes and No. What are your thoughts because I think the film cannot lie. Thank you very much for this forum."

John, you are making my point from Tom's answer above. This is a rant posing half-heartedly as a question. Just wanted to use an example, so everyone is clear going forward when this isn't in the mailbag.

From jpr cards:

"This is probably a tough question. I know the team has invested in Kliff and Keim and their contracts were a show of faith but this is the NFL after all and things can and do change. I am not suggesting that they are in any immediate trouble by any means but I don't think that anybody is pleased with the way the team has performed. I am also not suggesting that those two are entirely responsible for this downward trend. You can't fire the players though. Do you think change is even possible?"

Again, as I said in the first paragraph, it seems unlikely. But there are eight games left and I'd think the Cardinals and Michael Bidwill want to see how those play out.

From Art Pozza:

"Why are we seeing much of Ben Niemann lately? Is it scheming? Is it rotation? Or is he just outplaying someone?"

I mean, it's all of that, right? Vance Joseph isn't putting guys out there for no good reason. VJ has packages, and obviously Niemann excels in one or more of them. It also shows, given that Collins is basically playing 100 percent of the time and Tanner Vallejo is also getting a chunk of snaps, that Isaiah Simmons -- who is usually playing about 80 percent of the snaps -- is more of a safety/slot corner a lot of the time.

From Andrew Miller

"Hi Darren, can you kindly break down what the sequence is of the play calling, huddling, and lining up of personnel with approximate time for each element? Also, can you reconcile the relatively high use of hurry-up and no-huddle by the Cardinals with the obvious frequent break down of the traditional play calling and pre-snap process. How can a team that uses so much hurry-up struggle with the traditional process? One final related question: are there metrics about the comparative success (yards per play) for no-huddle versus a traditional huddle? As always, thank you for your insights."

I'll do the last one first -- it's possible there are metrics about YPP for no-huddle and traditional huddle, but I don't have those on hand. Now, for the meat of your questions. One, there is a difference between hurry-up and no-huddle. Hurry-up is always no-huddle, but no-huddle doesn't have to mean hurry-up. Colleges especially do no-huddle all the time -- they line up and all 11 guys are looking to the sideline for the signals. That's kind of what happens here. Kingsbury calls in the play and, when there isn't a huddle, Kyler is using signals to communicate to those guys at the line. When you huddle, it just means you are verbally delivering the play instead.

As for how much time it all takes, that simply varies. The coach has to decide on a play, he has to call it in -- and some plays can have a lot of verbiage -- and then Kyler has to disseminate it. Then at the line, there can be adjustments or a straight audible. You have to find a way to cram all that and the snap into 25 seconds.

From Robert Malicki:

"These losses to the Iggles and the Vikes have been hard to swallow. Why have they not gelled? Is the team built to match the NFL's desire for comeback and last-minute drama rather than one exhibiting early prolific scoring and a defense capable of stopping an opponent's late scoring?"

I don't believe a team is "built" to come back or be front-runners. You're either a good football team or you are not, and while you might have a strength in certain areas, if you are an NFL team incapable of rallying or incapable of building an early lead, you will struggle. They are not mutually exclusive.

From Burt Blue:

"Darren, are YOU going to be featured on 'Hard Knocks' at all? Given any interviews to the crew or shown them around?"

Uh, no. Might I appear in a shot? Maybe. Otherwise, I don't believe my presence is gonna spike the ratings.

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