The Cardinals come home finally this coming week. I don't expect Kyler Murray back quite yet, but we'll see. In the meantime, it's mailbag time. As always, questions may be edited for clarity. And don't forget to send a question for a future mailbag.
From John Turilli:
"With Myjai Sanders now cut is Monti Ossenfort erasing all that Steve Keim put together? Should Zaven Collins be worried? Kyler, Conner out and no official timelines is questionable? Isaiah Simmons gone, all higher draft picks are either under performing, cut or on IR? Not really sure where my team is heading?"
I'm confused why anyone would wonder why there would be significant change on a team that a) had the third overall pick a year ago and b) has a new GM and coach. There are completely different perspectives on how to build a roster in here now, and completely different ways to analyze a player. Your team is heading the way Ossenfort wants it to head. What that looks like on the other side, I don't know yet. I do know it's too early in the process to judge anything.
From George Goodell:
"In the limited time that Kyler has been back, have you seen him running and cutting at all? I haven't. The fact he can take a snap and sling it downfield is great, but what I'm curious about is whether he's mentally recovered and isn't afraid to scramble. I've not seen one single clip yet of him dashing around."
And you won't, because the Cardinals don't want to show anything like that. So he's not going to run and cut when practice is open to the media. I think it's safe to say, with the battery of strength and conditioning coaches they have as well as all the doctors and athletic trainers, running and cutting was at the top of the rehab priority list for a guy with ACL surgery. As for the mental part, you wouldn't be able to tell anything from a video anyway.
From J.J. Fowler:
"Darren, with the Cards sitting at 1-6 now and facing the Ravens next week, it sure looks like a lost season to me. There was some hope this year for improvement, but it just hasn't materialized. So it looks like they will one of the top teams for an early first-round pick in the 2024 NFL draft. So keep Murray and see what happens for next season or trade him for more picks by the trading deadline? There are serious decisions they front office has to decide, but there are some pieces to build on for the future."
Kyler isn't going anywhere right now. He's going to come back, he's going to play however many games this season, and if it goes the way everyone expects, he'll be the centerpiece around which Ossenfort will build. That's why they need to see what he can do on the field this season. Dealing him makes no sense.
From Simon Patch:
"If we wanted a QB to go 1-6, we could've just kept Colt McCoy. Dobbs has regressed badly. What's Tune doing on the roster at this point? He can't possibly be worse than Dobbs has been."
Well, I'll disagree that Tune would automatically have been a better choice. I don't know that and neither do you. I've been down the questionable QB road a few times in my time covering this team, and either you have a short memory or a short stint as a fan. As for Tune on the roster -- they want to keep him around. He was a draft pick. At this point, with Kyler Murray coming back in the next couple of weeks, I'm not sure it make sense to put Tune out there knowing there will be another change soon.
From Kurt Small:
"When Hump got ejected from the game, why is it Beachum filled in at left tackle, rather than right tackle? Beachum was our right tackle for the last two years. Whereas PJJ (I would assume) is considered the heir apparent at left tackle someday. Until today I had always assumed if we were to lose Hump long term, then PJJ would be LT and Beachum RT. Does that imply he's our long term RT? It's not a small thing. Orlando Brown Jr famously forced a trade because he wanted to be a LT on a team that forced him to be RT."
Dang, Kurt, you're taking one game and odd circumstances and spinning it pretty dramatically all the way out to 2027 or 2028 (because that is the soonest PJJ would have the leverage to force a trade.) How about this: Beachum is the backup for both right and left. Hump went down, Beachum is the backup. Also, Beachum has played left tackle the bulk of his career; PJJ has worked only on the right side since coming to Arizona. Do I think PJJ will eventually be on the left? Probably, but nothing is a guarantee. And certainly it's nothing to get crazy about in 2023.
From Tom Cowley:
"Hi Darren. My concern was and is a bona fide running back who will play for the balance of this year -- trade, free agent wire, whatever it takes. Connor has an injury dossier forever, and management. knew it. Any chance to do this? The RB room is not worth further consideration."
They are already using Damien Williams, who was a free agent, at running back. But I wouldn't be surprised if Emari Demercado continues to get work. And Conner will be returning at some point. If you're looking for them to deal for Derrick Henry, no, that's not happening.
From John Miller:
"When is Kyler coming back? And also do you think the offensive scheme changes when he's back? I think it's fair to think maybe the offense we have seen has been an abbreviated version of Drew Petzing's true vision, since he had to account for Dobbs limitations. Hopefully we see more deep shots. This dink-and-dunk offense has been maddening."
My guess has long been Nov. 12 for Kyler to play his first game, but we will see. As for what the offense looks like, I am equally intrigued. You mention what doesn't suit Dobbs, but for instance, the dink-and-dunk in Seattle was a lot about the pass rush the Cardinals couldn't hold off with their pass protection. Tough to throw down the field when there is no time to throw down the field. Murray also hasn't been under center much; is that going to change, or not?
From Derek Small:
"What happened with Keaontay Ingram? I thought he would be the key to the Seattle game with protecting Josh Dobbs from the rush and hard-nosed rushing like we see from James Conner. There was no news at all about him not being RB1 on the depth chart anywhere."
The depth chart doesn't mean much when it comes to running backs. And besides, Demercado has been the pass-protecting back since the season started, even with Conner playing, and Ingram was not. It's tough not to get the sense this staff prefers Demercado over Ingram. I don't see that changing soon.
From Jon David Lair:
"Hey, Darren. Cards aren't looking too great right now. Even though K1 is coming back relatively soon, they could use some bonus help. So if you had to make one move (a trade, a pickup, firing, etc.) what would you do? Or do the Cardinals stay stagnant and wait it out?"
Well, I'm not firing anyone. We are seven games into a new coaching staff in a year everyone knew would be a rebuild. I'm also not making a trade, unless it's to move a vet you know isn't in your plans and who could get me back a draft pick. Mostly I don't think there will be much -- other than perhaps give some younger players more and more playing time as an evaluation for next season.
From Joe Williamson:
"Do you agree with the idea that offense sells tickets but defense wins championships? I have been in coaching for many years and a Cardinals fan for 60+ years. The best teams are always great defensive teams."
I will agree that the best teams have a good defense. I will disagree that they are always great. Unless you are the 2000 Ravens, a team with a lousy offense isn't winning spit even if they have one of the best defenses ever. The Eagles and 49ers, I'd say, have the best defenses this season. But their offenses are excellent. The week those offenses went dormant -- even though the defenses still were great -- they lost.
From Chris Campbell:
"In the bleakness of our on-field product, I want to shine a light on some positives. Dante Stills has quietly been very good for us. We are forced to play guys who may not normally play a lot. But in the time he's out there, I've regularly seen him involved in a stop. As the 212th pick in the draft, you can't ask for much more. Roy Lopez has been key in a couple goal-line stops over the past few games. Don't know who the heck he is, but he's stepped up big time. And despite being the most unknown entity going into the season, Froholdt has been solid at center."
I'm sure they would be happy to hear the praise. I do think Stills has shown a little something. Froholdt got off to a good start. The last couple of weeks haven't been as clean, but that feels like the offense as a whole.
from Marcel Schmit:
"Hello, thanks for all your work I'm reading most of the articles on website and listen the different podcasts. First time writing here and from Germany.
- I love the the Cardinals for the effort they put in and hate the lack of closing out games is terrible but before the season started, I thought of much worse performances. I like where this team is in the moment. Which are your player on offense and defense which surprised you the most and why?
- Josh Dobbs is a nice backup QB. Look around the league specially in week 6 there were other performances of back-ups and starters (Minshew, Wilson) worse then Dobbs. I'm fine with the last minute 'trade for Dobbs and cut Colt' move of the front office. Which QB fits better for this team?
- What do you think about Hjalte Froholdt as center? From my point of view really solid and better than probably many thought in the offseason.
- Much too early review of trading down in the draft, get an additional first rounder next year and PJJ instead of (what mostly was assumed) Will Anderson. What is your opinion, was this trade a good move?
- Waiving Myjai Sanders? I understand that the OLB room is full, but why not wait, maybe there will be some injuries in near future. Do you have additional information why the front office waived Sanders?"
Here are some answers:
- I'll go with Michael Wilson on offense (when he's been thrown the ball he's shown he can make some plays) and on defense I'll go with Kevin Strong, who has provided more help on the defensive line that could have been expected.
- I don't think there is any question Dobbs is a better fit, because they wanted a QB who could run.
- As I mentioned earlier in the 'bag, I think Froholdt has been better than expected, although I do think he has stepped back a bit after a good start.
- You are right -- way too early to judge. I need to know what that other pick turns into.
- I just don't think Sanders fit into what they are trying to build here. He wasn't the first player they moved on from through that prism.
From William Thomas:
"Why are Anquan Boldin and Darnell Dockett not in the Ring of Honor? I love Carson Palmer. and he had a career worthy of note, but if he's in, the others are definitely deserving of the honor too."
That's a question for ownership, although right now, it feels like the ROH line starts and ends with Fitz, until they figure out when he's going in.
From Peter Kacmar:
"Hello Darren. I admit I can only judge from afar, relying on what I can see on TV. But we have been listening about JG is a high-energy guy ever since he showed up. However during the matches I see none of this energy on the bench. He looks very quiet and calm, not talking to anyone and lacking any energy. Do you see anything else when the cameras are not looking at him? Thank you."
I'm not watching Gannon a lot during games. But I do think he works to be even-keel on game days. The time for high energy is during practice and prep, not when a coach needs to be focused on game day. I get that fans are watching but if you can coach, you can coach. You don't need to be putting on a show for the cameras.
From Victor Porto:
"Darren, thanks for all you do for all of us in the great Cardinal fan community. Question: when you're covering a receiver why don't you, as a cornerback or safety, turn around once in a while and look for the ball? It's so frustrating to watch DBs look so lost when the ball finally arrives and damn it, they look so surprised. Is this a cover method they are trained in?"
Obviously they are trained to look for the ball. I think sometimes, at that speed, it's easier said than done if you are in a dead sprint and you're also worried about running into the guy. But generally, it does seem odd more DBs don't do that. It's not just the Cardinals.
From Francisco Delgado:
- Cuando crees que sea el regreso de Kyler estoy emocionado para volver a ver a la ofensiva con el?
- Cuando crees que Baker y Thompson estén alineados juntos?
- Crees que cuando estén las piezas juntas puedan obtener un récord ganador?
- Cómo vez el futuro de kyler con el equipo ya que se escuchan rumores de un posible tarde (espero que no)?"
Hola. Algunas respuestas.
- Con suerte en un par de semanas.
- Baker ya ha regresado y veremos sobre JT. El hecho de que no haya ido a IR es una buena señal.
- Este es un reinicio que está en progreso. Pero si Kyler está sano y juega bien, será una expectativa la próxima temporada.
- Como mencioné anteriormente en la bolsa de correo, quieren verlo jugar. Quieren que él sea el futuro. Pero no creo que nada esté escrito en piedra sobre nada.
(Thanks Google Translate.)