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You've Got Mail: Seahawks Week, Part II

Topics include Kyler's health, vet practice days and Simmons' future

Golden-Simmons Mailbag 1117

The Cardinals are in the middle of a lot of stuff right now -- coming off the exhilarating win against the Bills, prepping for the Thursday night game against the Seahawks. A lot to jam into these couple of days. As always, you can leave a question for a future mailbag here.

From Mike V via azcardinals.com:

"I'm still pinching myself after (Sunday's) win. What a game. With that said: during the first 5 or 6 games of the season, it seemed Kyler wasn't getting touched on scrambles, with 95% of them ending in slides. I could count hits on one hand. I loved that -- I felt it improved his chances of staying healthy for 16 games (plus playoffs). However, in the last couple games, it seems he's taking a lot more hits. It raises a couple of questions -- what's changed? Coaching aggressiveness? Kyler's decision making, comfort level? Does anyone in the organization track/monitor this - the slide to tackle ratio on his carries? It's been many years since I felt we had a shot in every game and were never outclassed by our opponent. It's good to be back."

I think some of the change with Kyler getting hit is the circumstances -- for instance, the big shot against the Dolphins came because Kyler knew he needed a first down late in the game. He does seem to be getting hit more. I can't disagree there, and that is absolutely a topic of conversation. Kliff Kingsbury said he actually talked to Murray and reminded him he has to be careful, and Murray knows this. Usually he has no desire to tempt fate. It will be interesting though, as the Cardinals push for the playoffs, if Murray loses sight of that a little as he tries to work to the postseason.

From David McCommack via azcardinals.com:

"Hello from WA state. I noticed that there was not a question (last week) regarding the lack of involvement of D-Hop in the Miami game. He only had three catches, and was only targeted seven times. The four times he didn't make the catch, defensive interference was called. Seems to me that he was very productive in his limited involvement. Do you have any insight as to why he was not involved more?"

It was how the game played out, but Kingsbury admitted later -- and again, right after the Bills win -- that the Cardinals made a mistake not throwing the ball Hopkins' way more often. That obviously changed against the Bills. One thing that I think Murray might have to get used to (and something that was coincidentally on display on the Hail Murray) is that there probably should be times when Hopkins is one-on-one that he just throws up the jump ball and trust Nuk to make sure nothing bad happens. It's what Kurt Warner once had to learn with Larry Fitzgerald.

From Jason Beckum via azcardinals.com:

"Who is to blame for the stagnant offense, Kingsbury, Murray or lack of execution? At a point in the game I looked as though we were not on the same page not even reading the same book. I am happy with the 'W', but offense needs to do a better job of moving the ball consistently. We had several drives and red zone possessions that went nowhere. Our margin of victory could and should have been higher. Let's go beat the Seahawks now, Go Cards!"

Should the offense be more consistent? Yes. The Cardinals still had 32 points and 453 yards. I think sometimes the bar has been raised pretty high. That said, it is about finishing, not moving the ball consistently. They did that. They score touchdowns instead of field goals in the red zone, and everything is different -- and the Cards have been pretty RZ consistent before the Bills game.

From Alchiezer Gant via azcardinals.com:

Hi Darren, somebody asked a question about Patrick Peterson moving to safety, and you said it is up to Patrick. But what is your view on the subject? It was interesting last week when Patrick admitted he's lost a step. And while I still think he's a good CB, I think he could be a great Safety for 3-to-5 more years, as we saw with guys like Charles Woodson. What do you think?"

It's an intriguing idea, although you'd have to feel like Peterson would be cool with being more physical as part of the last line of tackling. I think his ball skills for potential interceptions would be excellent. But again, is this something Peterson would embrace?

From Zackary Maus via azcardinals.com:

"I would love to know if the media has addressed Murray or Kingsbury about Kyler's ball security? Like, sure it looks really cool when he does flashy things but it also leaves defensive ends opportunities like the one against Miami. Seems like a lot of big people in the media (FS1) etc.. made that a point to talk about."

Not sure "big people in the media" necessarily translates into cause for concern. One person in the media was also criticizing Kyler's leadership and making points that were simply untrue. But Murray has been remarkably protective with the ball even with his style. He did lose it against the Dolphins but frankly, that's the only time I can think of this season where that happened because of the way he can carry it and I don't remember off the top of my head him doing it as a rookie. If there is anything I am sure about Murray, it's that he is hyperaware of ball security and his own security (meaning the need to slide.).

From Sean Apke via azcardinals.com:

"Hi Darren. I want to talk about Isaiah Simmons. De'Vondre Campbell has taken a step back from his early season dominance. making the argument we just let him walk next year easier. Thus Simmons will naturally slide into that vacated ILB spot. I think Simmons has done a good job in his limited reps. But we will likely lose Haason Reddick in free agency. What a crazy story that guy has. I'm happy for him. But it creates a vacancy at the WLB position. And it just seems to me that Simmons is far more similar to Reddick, in terms of body and play style. Could it be Simmons' future is actually as the WLB, rather than ILB?"

The way Simmons has played the last few weeks at inside linebacker makes me think he is where he needed to be. I think Reddick has been good in his role but I still think both he and Simmons would ultimately be undersized for what they'd want to do out there. Simmons isn't a guy you'd want on the edge on running downs, and he's the kind of guy you want to be a three-down player.

From Jules North via azcardinals.com:

"I'm just curious, is the Hopkins/Fitz three-day practice week an unspoken agreement, or do they still have to pretend 'There is a reason' they aren't practicing? I know only superstars get that arrangement, but it's still funny to me. Do you think Denny would've permitted that?"

You have a lot of "they" in your question and I'm not 100 percent sure to whom you refer. If you look on the injury report, it says those guys are "not-injury related." But if a guy misses practices for whatever reason, even rest, it has to be listed on the report. It's not unspoken -- the coaches and trainers usually have a conversation before the season with the player. Fitz actually has to be told he's not practicing; he'd rather work. As far as Denny Green, that feels like a moot point. I'm sure some old-school coaches wouldn't like it, but we're not old school anymore.

From Eric DeGesero via azcardinals.com:

"Why are the Cardinals always so confused getting set on both sides of the ball ? Multiple times (Sunday) we saw that, timeout on defense only 10 on the field, a play inside the Bills 10 where the set was on the wrong side and Fitz was getting in position with 8 seconds on play clock. Is it too many schemes? When combined with the penalties it points to a lack of focus and that's on the coach. Getting the right play called and personnel on the field and set is the blocking and tackling of being a coach."

Point taken. I don't know exactly. Obviously there have been a handful of 10 or 12 men on the field penalties/timeouts this season, and yes, those should be figured out. I don't know the details of what has happened, so no way to know where the blame lies, but those are inefficiencies that should not happen.

From ASU Sun Devils via azcardinals.com:

"I know that Eno Benjamin doesn't play because of his non-contribution on special teams. However our top two backs, Drake and Chase, dont play teams either. So would that imply that Eno could be the No. 2 RB next year, having never played teams?"

Actually, Edmonds does play some special teams. But, could Benjamin be No. 2 next season? Perhaps. Could he learn a role on special teams in that time? Also possible. On this team, it's hard to imagine a No. 2 back doing absolutely nothing on special teams.

From Dennis Bartels via azcardinals.com:

"Why risk fourth-down conversions? Your not going to fool every team every week. Especially if your O-Line isn't in control. In the Miami game you gave away three points in the second half trying for a fourth-down conversion. Never give points away!"

It's funny because crunching the numbers for the end of the Miami game, it actually made more sense to have gone for it on the final Cardinals' fourth down than try the field goal (which obviously missed). I'll say this: if you are frustrated at NFL teams going for it on fourth downs and eschewing field-goal tries, you're gonna give yourself an ulcer. The era of analytics and the math saying you give yourself a better chance at winning by going for it on fourth down more often is here to stay.

From Don P via azcardinals.com:

"Hi Darren. As usual appreciate what you do. In your opinion, all things being equal like QB accuracy, number of targets etc and understanding that catch percentage isn't everything when measuring how good a WR is, what catch percentage do you think a receiver needs to be a No.1 or No. 2? For me it's 68%. Consistently below that and I see a receiver being a No. 4 or backup."

You got a lot going on here. Where is the No. 3 receiver? And mostly, all things aren't equal. Catch percentage is ultimately a subjective stat in a lot of ways. For me, it's like that old Supreme Court quote about pornography -- I know a top receiver when I see him. There needs to be leeway for a learning curve when he first gets into the league, but otherwise, I think you can tell.

From Blaine Pierce via azcardinals.com:

"Hi Darren. Looking to next year, if we don't sign Reddick, Pat P and Fitzgerald, in your opinion, what compensatory picks would we receive? Thank you."

Couple points to make here. One, if Fitz doesn't re-sign, he's retired, so he won't get you anything. And comp picks only come along when you have top free agents. I don't know if Reddick is going to fall into that category -- with the dip in salary cap, Reddick might be one of those players in the purgatory of veterans who are squeezed. As for Peterson, if he became a free agent, it'd be all about what someone would pay compared to all the other top free agents -- so there is no way to guesstimate at this point.

From J Hodge via azcardinals.com:

"While watching Kyler turn into a superstar before our very eyes, who else has ever been as elusive as he is on the field? I can think of a few QBs who got knocked to a pulp and ended with shorter stardom years, like Vick, RG3, but I don't recall anyone being such a threat with exception of Russell Wilson. Running backs? Wide receivers? Ron Wolfley? He doesn't take big hits, he skirts by tackles and slides low into home plate. Not sure I've seen anyone quite as tricky to stop."

I saw one analyst compare Kyler to Barry Sanders in that regard. Perhaps. It feels like Murray might be a unicorn in his skillset at that position, when you factor in the way he does it all. There have been some punt returners that were pretty elusive -- Dante Hall, Devin Hester. Now, a more elusive quarterback? Other than the slippery Wilson, Kyler is gonna be hard to top.

From Roose Rosenberg via azcardinals.com:

"Is Zach Allen still on schedule to return week 11? He was my preseason gem to watch, so it's been disappointing that he's been so banged up. Also, is Robert Alford on schedule to play next year? Gotta feel bad for that guy. Two years lost. He was so excited to pair up with P2, and now we don't even know the fate of P2."

Allen has yet to return to practice, and until he does, he's not close enough to returning. So that remains up in the air. Alford's case will be interesting. He'll be 33 and he'll have a salary of $7.5 million after not playing for two years. That's going to be a tough deal to keep in place given the salary cap climate.

From Nicholas Reif via azcardinals.com:

"Will Kingsbury use Chris Streveler more. I know he used him a little in the early games but he could be more use in the upcoming games."

Is this a Paul Calvisi alias? (No I don't expect more Streveler. At this point, why would you take Kyler off the field if he isn't hurt?)

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