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You've Got Mail: Seahawks Week

AZC_CardinalsMailbag

The Cardinals have dropped to 0-3 for the first time since 2005, but Josh Rosen is now the starting quarterback as this season evolves into a dual path of the rookie learning his way around the NFL as well as the Cards chasing a victory. So, on with the (many) questions. I was not able to get to every single one, but if I didn't get to yours, be sure to read through the ones I did touch on -- I likely addressed one similar.

From Sue Johnston via azcardinals.com:

" Why only two short passes to Fitzgerald. We have one of the best receivers in the NFL and he isn’t targeted."

An excellent question. Fitz said "sometimes that's how the cookie crumbles" but it didn't make much sense to me, either. One of the issues is that at this point, Fitzgerald needs other weapons to draw at least some of the defensive attention. Otherwise, they can lean on him. But the QB play has to help too. For instance, on one of Rosen's first plays, he threw an incompletion rolling right away from pressure, but it looked like, before he had to scramble, Fitzgerald popped wide open crossing left. Rosen just didn't see him. That's some of it, but if I were Rosen and just getting started, I'd make sure I knew where Fitz is going forward. He's a hell of a security blanket.

By the logic of a coaching staff that watched them throughout the offseason and preseason. Deone Bucannon did play the whole way through the opener, so it's not like that game went well for the defense even when he was in there. Wilks used the word "trust" when talking about the linebacker spots. I do not know specifics of what is being done or not done. At the same time, I don't think you can make an assumption that because those players are first-round picks, they definitely should be playing. Obviously, it's not an ideal situation. I know I am surprised, especially with Bucannon. But the new defensive system certainly has had an impact on how this has played out.

From Rudy Beltran via azcardinals.com:

"Do you see the Cardinals’ offensive approach a whole lot different with Rosen and see David Johnson involved a lot more?"

A whole lot different? Probably not, although I would assume -- since OC Mike McCoy talks often about letting the quarterbacks explain what plays with which they are more comfortable -- Rosen's comfort level with some plays will be different than Sam Bradford. Certainly, Rosen has the ability, more than Bradford, to throw on the run and do some various rollouts and such. Even in the preseason, it looked like Rosen liked to throw it down the field more. As for Johnson, I don't know anymore. They have to get him involved more, they have acknowledged such, but they haven't done it yet.

From Andrew Miller via azcardinals.com:

"In the waning seconds of the game there was the play in which Rosen threw the pick-six that was called back due to an offside infraction by the Bears. I am not precisely sure, but I think there was about 21 seconds left on the clock at the time of the snap. At the end of the play, there was a whistle and 14 seconds left on the clock. Did I get this wrong or is the rule that the clock is not re-set?"

Generally, the clock doesn't get time added back in for a penalty if the play was allowed to proceed (which it was in that case.) Pre-snap, yes. But most of the time, you just lose time that ticked off on a play that featured an accepted penalty. You just happened to notice it at the end of the game, when the Cards could've used more of those precious seconds.

From Garth Short via azcardinals.com:

"Christian Kirk has shown that he can catch, but it seems that he can be knocked over with a feather after making a reception. Do you know what his YAC is?"

Kirk has 12 catches for 121 yards. Of those 121 yards, 45 are after the catch. And I'm not sure about the feather comment. He's not a big guy. He's not built to break through big tacklers. The idea is to let him get the ball in space and let him work.

Johnson is healthy. I think he's in good graces, although after the news about him missing some blitz pickups late -- and Johnson said it happened a couple of times -- I'm guessing he needs to make sure he's doing his job when it comes to such assignments. But this idea he was ever going to get 30 to 35 touches is unrealistic. Last year, the Steelers worked Le'Veon Bell more than any back in recent memory, and he only averaged 27 a game. If Johnson were at 23-to-25, that would be at the high end, assuming your offense was performing the way you want. All that said, he absolutely needs it more than 15 times a game.

From Jim Connell via azcardinals.com:

"How 'hands-on' is Steve Keim when it comes to reviewing decisions/strategy/personnel during the week? Specifically, decisions like the $39 million marquee running back getting an average of less than 15 touches per game? Will he step in and give some advice to the coaching staff?"

Keim is talking to Steve Wilks frequently every week. That said, generally, decisions of how to coach the team and player usage are going to left to Wilks and his staff, just like generally, decisions on what players to sign and extend, etc., will be left to Keim. I would guess David Johnson is a player discussed on many levels. But is Keim going to go into Wilks' office and say, 'He needs 30 touches, so get it done." No.

From David Cantu via azcardinals.com:

"I don't understand why a guy who has averages 90 tackles the past 4 years is only getting 1 snap on defense. Why is Bucannon not out there more? I know the coaches have all the knowledge and experience, and are playing the best 11, can they not throw him in as the 5th DB in the nickel? He was a safety in college, maybe this can help with the run defense as well."

As I mentioned earlier, there is a lack of trust right now with Bucannon for whatever reason on what they want on defense. As for the "best 11," it has become clear this staff does not see him in that light -- otherwise he'd be out there. I don't know if, at this point in his career, Bucannon would work as a safety. He can't play cornerback. So in your "5th DB in the nickel" scenario, who is he playing above? Not Bethea. Not Boston. And he certainly wouldn't be above Baker. Not in the roles those guys play.

From Joy Brooks via azcardinals.com:

"It's great that Wilks is starting Rosen next week, but what are the chances that the Cardinals might actually put a proper offensive line on the field to protect him, as well as open some holes for David Johnson who's been unbelievably underused so far?"

I mean, can the line play better? No doubt. But when you say "put a proper offensive line on the field," what are you proposing? Which of the backup offensive linemen not currently playing would you like to see on the field? Because as of right now, you have who you have. There are not a couple of Pro Bowlers waiting around as free agents the Cardinals could sign.

Again, Steve Wilks has noted the need for better line play. But I don't think this line -- talent-wise -- is a lot different than the one in 2016, and Johnson had a huge year. It can be done.

Funny. Ask me about the draft after free agency is over.

From Josh Hartman via azcardinals.com:

"Lots of blame to go around the first 3 weeks but what responsibility does Steve Keim deserve as if you look at the past three draft classes and who is playing and playing well we must stack up very poorly to teams across the league?"

I was asked a question in a recent mailbag about draft classes and broke down the numbers and the Cardinals' percentage of draft picks kept was about the same as everyone in the division. And with a change in coaching staff -- and a change in systems -- inevitably that impacts how some picks are viewed. All that said, Keim would be the first to acknowledge the draft picks have to be better than they have, especially at the top of the classes. We will see how Josh Rosen goes from here and Christian Kirk looks solid, as does Mason Cole. Robert Nkemdiche is doing some good things, finally. But yes, you have a pair of first-round picks in Bucannon and Reddick not playing, you have a third-round pick like Brandon Williams basically only a special teamer, and the list goes on. Keim knows that.

From Dominick Kelly via azcardinals.com:

"Do you see any coaching changes coming? It’s hard to judge how our defense is actually playing with the offense performing so poorly. Three weeks of abysmal play-calling is tough to watch."

I do not.

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