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You've Got Mail: Saints Week

Topics include Kyler Murray as franchise QB, TE use and 2020 opponents


The Cardinals are on a three-game winning streak as they head to New Orleans this weekend, with some questions about the running back depth chart for now. As always, you can send along a question for next week's mailbag right here. With that as the background, here are some of your questions for the week:

From B.A.'s Kangol via

"Darren, I don't understand why more people in this town are not raving about how good - no, how GREAT - Kyler Murray has been. He's played SEVEN NFL GAMES. He's turned the ball over only four times. Daniel Jones? Five games, 11 turnovers. Murray has already broken NFL rookie records for passing. He runs the offense like he was born for it. We are watching something very special, I think, and I do not believe most folks get it. Why do you think that is?"

Well, for starters, it's been SEVEN games, and that simply isn't a big enough sample size to declare anything yet. RGIII was also marvelous for an entire rookie season and well, we know how that turned out. I think yes, Murray definitely has a chance to be a special quarterback. He is absolutely doing things most rookies don't grasp at this point in the timeline. He will get better as the personnel around him improves too. In the infamous paraphrased words of Denny Green, if you would like to crown Kyler, then you may crown him. But if he keeps going like this, everyone will see it.

Never say never, I suppose, but I would be shocked if they made a major trade to bring in a vet like that at this point. Steve Keim has repeatedly praised the current offensive line -- which has played well -- so I don't see them sending a good pick for a player. With the cap space and resources and flexibility they will have going into the offseason, I think that's the direction they go.

From Punchy Juan via

"Hey champ! I know you don't like talking draft, but the fans do! So I just want to throw you a quick 'GM Darren' scenario. Assuming they are both ranked similarly on the big board. Would you take: The best OT in the draft, Andrew Thomas, OR the best WR in the draft, Ceedee Lamb, Kyler's old Oklahoma buddy? Decisions..."

Here is one of the reasons I don't like talking draft just yet -- free agency comes before the draft. Did the Cardinals sign a tackle in free agency or a wide receiver? Did they keep Humphries? And where are they choosing? Are you sure, for example, Thomas will still be there if the Cardinals are picking 16th, for instance? All things being equal, I'd lean OT. If he can do what you need on the OL, and assuming you can find a receiver or two elsewhere.

That one is simple: He didn't win a starting job, and the center and guards have stayed healthy. No reason to make a change.

From Jake The Snake via

"We saw in the Atlanta game Andy Isabella running scott-free for a wide-open touchdown, which subsequently went to Chase Edmonds. It appears Andy is getting open. The catches and yards and touchdowns are there, he's just getting overlooked. Is there a way that Kliff can make Andy the hot read? I'm seeing fans complain about Andy's non-contribution, but he can't catch what is not thrown to him."

You are correct, he has to be targeted to have a chance to make an impact. But as you noted, while he was wide-open in Atlanta, they still scored a touchdown on the play, and they are in the middle of a winning streak. It's hard to argue how they are approaching things right now. I do think Isabella will get more work as the season moves along, but it won't be about quieting any criticism. It'd be about getting the rookie on track.

From Mike Sabo via

"Does Alford have any chance on playing this year? Thank you."

Yes. But he's not practicing yet, and a return is no sure thing.

From Tom Cowley via

"What is the current status of Max Garcia and will he play this year?"

Garcia remains on the PUP list but did begin to practice last week. That means his three-week window has opened to potentially return. By the time those three weeks have ended, the Cardinals have to either activate him to the roster or move him to season-ending IR. Garcia is optimistic it'll be the former.

Actually, Olsen does not have access -- for this weekend's game, for instance, he doesn't take part in any of the pre-game interview sessions and the network is sensitive to that issue. I get the potential problem, but obviously the league is OK with it. He also didn't go down to the field pre-game like most announcers, staying up in the booth.

From Stevie Henderson via

"Darren, I am surprised that no one has commented on how Kyler Murray carries the ball when he runs. I noted that Jalen Hurts also carries the ball like a loaf of bread. I wonder why Lincoln Riley hasn't corrected this and also if the Cardinal coaches have tried to have him carry it more securely. I am afraid that he will start to have fumbles as we start playing better teams. I did note that he indicated he has to pay more attention to where the ball is when he runs out of bounds trying to get a first down."

Usually, Murray knows when to tuck it, but yes, I've noticed it. I saw Aaron Rodgers and Jared Goff do the same on touchdown runs this weekend. It's a dangerous way to live. But at this point, he hasn't fumbled, and so I also kind of feel like he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

From Brat Shneider via

"Hey Urban. How about those tight end, huh? Do you think we found our groove finally, offensively? I don't think the 5 wide receivers-thing is us. I think we operate best with the two tight-end sets. What do you think?"

Well Shneider, I think the tight end play has been important. I do think Kliff Kingsbury is getting into a comfort zone. I don't think the five-receivers thing is the Cardinals either. Four receivers? Yes. You're going to end up seeing the 10 personnel again. And if I had to say what makes the most sense to me, it's 11 personnel -- one tight end, one running back, three receivers. But that's the beauty of what Kingsbury is building. I think they are moving in a direction where they can do it all.

Deionte Thompson got the vast majority of the snaps Sunday (64 of 71 plays) and was technically at strong safety with Budda Baker at free safety -- although it did look like he was moved around at times. Jalen Thompson is kind of in the same boat when he plays. I think Jalen hasn't played enough to really judge. Deionte I think has moments, but you can tell there is still a feeling-out process, especially in pre-snap communication.

From Gerald Brown via

"It was great to get a win and a running game, but what happened to the passing game? I know it was raining, but the Giants QB didn't seem to be hampered by that."

Eight sacks and three turnovers on passing plays feels pretty hampered. I also think Kingsbury definitely got conservative in the second half with the lead. I'm not worried about this passing game.

I'm not sure I'd put Daniel Jones in the QB-who-can-run category. I would think there is a chance they will use more man, but just because Peterson is back, it doesn't mean Byron Murphy, for instance, is any further ahead of where he is in his development, or Deionte Thompson. And those are the guys I'm thinking might cause the hesitation. That said, I know Vance Joseph likes to be aggressive, and against better teams, the Cardinals might need to push the envelope when it comes to rushing the passer. That would be helped with man-to-man looks.

From Robert Malicki via

"Recently you noted the Cardinals were playing on the road next season playing two road games at MetLife Stadium. My question is a two-parter. Does the NFL 'have it in' for western teams travelling to play eastern teams? These games almost always seem to kickoff early. Is this a disadvantage to road teams because the reverse would not appear to affect eastern teams for to them it's like a late afternoon start? Does the home team always choose the kickoff time? If so, why does the NFL office give eastern teams that advantage? Secondly, do you know the home vs. away setup for our AFC opponents next season?"

No, the NFL doesn't "have it in" for teams. Bottom line, you have two afternoon TV windows. So most games are going to start early for the western teams. Not really sure a way around that. The league -- and TV -- chooses the kickoff time. As for next year, other than the home-and-home with the three NFC West teams, here is how the opponents shake out in 2020:

  • vs. Eagles
  • vs. Dolphins
  • vs. Redskins
  • vs. Bills
  • vs. NFC North (matching team in final division finish)
  • at Giants
  • at Jets
  • at Patriots
  • at Cowboys
  • at NFC South (matching team in final division finish)

From Rosemary Ledbetter via

"Why wasn't a pass thrown to Larry FITZGERALD except for one terrible pass at least to keep his catch streak going. Why don't they throw Larry the d....ball. l really thought Kliff Kingsbury would truly appreciate Larry in his offense!!!! I admit l have been his biggest fan since he started before he was popular - he just had a sweet smile."

Was there a time he wasn't popular? But I digress. Fitz actually was targeted twice, and given that they only threw 21 times, there's a chance that is going to happen. Everyone would like to see Fitz with some numbers, but Rosemary, they did win the game. I think Fitz is OK with a win under the rainy circumstances. I'd understand the anger if they threw a bunch of passes to everyone but Fitz, but they simply didn't throw much period.

He's second in the NFL in scoring with 67 points, one behind Baltimore's Justin Tucker, and he's made 18-of-21 field goals. Feels pretty real to me.

From Barry H via

"Hey Darren. I saw your tweet about Boldin's retirement. Happy for the guy. Amazing player. Should probably be in our Ring of Honor. I was too young to remember the Boldin days so I don't necessarily understand what happened with that relationship. He was the perfect duo with Larry. Could we not afford him? Why did he want out? I never knew what happened. It would've been so cool if he and Larry were some 15-year duo here."

Long story short, Anquan got upset in the offseason before the 2008 season because, after Fitz got a big extension, he believed the organization had promised to re-do his deal too, which at the time still had three seasons to go. The Cards had given him an extension after the 2005 season after just two seasons. The organization said they had been willing to talk but never promised. Anquan was angry, and stayed angry for the next two years. He never got an offer he was amenable to, and they traded him to Baltimore before the 2010 season. His relationship with the organization, I'd think, remains frosty.

From Blaine Pierce via

"What do think the odds are of Pat Peterson holding out after this season for a new contract? Heading into his final year, approaching age 31, he will likely want a 3-4 yr contract, $50-60 million, minimum $30 million guaranteed. If you think there is even a 50% chance of this, he must be traded this year? Money saved gives Cardinals an opportunity on someone like Jets DE Leonard Williams."

I don't know what will happen with Peterson and his contract. You are correct, that would be an option. But there is a long way to go. If you are going to extend Peterson, it would make sense to make that decision and try to get it done. I know there are fans who get frustrated with Patrick for whatever reason, but he's an excellent player and getting rid of excellent players tends to hurt the roster. I'd admit it'll be an interesting situation to watch play out.

From Kyler Numero Uno via

"You were a 'keep Rosen' guy, as many were. Now that we are 7 games in, how are you feeling? Do you think Kyler was the right call and do you think we finally have a franchise QB?"

You are right, and as I have noted in various platforms, I originally felt keeping Rosen and taking a defensive impact player high made sense. But it didn't take a lot of practice time for me to change my mind, and at this point, I don't think there is any doubt Murray was the right call. As I noted above, I hesitate only seven games in to call him a sure thing, but it's hard not to like what he brings an awful lot. This offense is already effective.

I see what you did there.