A reminder that I would prefer not to get tl;dr analysis because I am looking for questions. You can always explain yourself a bit, sure. I'll read everything sent in. But if you want it in the mailbag, I need a question or two. Thanks again. But enough about me. On to the mailbag. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.
From Clary Weeks:
"Hi Urbz. Someone on Twitter said Adrian Wilson and Quentin Harris were both at Monti Ossenfort's press conference. Does that mean they are staying on? Does Monti inherit our current scouting department, or is he going to build his own? Also, on the ego comment, all the great players have egos. Jordan. Kobe. Prime. Even 'good guys' like Watt has an enormous ego. We've had this discussion many times over the years, but ultimately boy scouts don't win championships. Also, I know he complimented Budda, but 'the Patriot Way' tends to cut loose older guys sooner than later. Do you think we might be looking at Budda's last season in red coming up?"
I'm not sure why you'd think that of Baker. One of the reasons the Patriots would sometimes move on from a non-rookie contract player is because they didn't want to play big contract extensions (like Chandler Jones). So no, I don't see Baker going anywhere anytime soon. But again, some of this won't be figured out until a new coach is in place. As far as Harris and Wilson, of course they were at the presser -- he's their new boss and they are still in place. What happens over the next few months is something to watch. Often, the bulk of any changes for the front office/scouting departments come right after the draft -- if they come -- because they just spent the whole season scouting for this draft. Finally, you are right about ego. But I am going to argue one thing -- talent wins championships. That's the ultimate decider. I get the boy scout comment, but if a guy is too far off the rails the other way, that doesn't help either.
From CLB Wynette:
"Hi Darren, I know you get lots of head coach questions, but who do you want as HC? No wrong answers. I know you're an employee of the team, but you're also allowed to have your own opinions. I for one am rooting for DeMeco Ryans. I have no first-time HC worries with that guy. He seems like a natural. Also I wouldn't mind poaching some of those 49er assistant coaches too. Dan Quinn wouldn't be a bad choice either. Anyways, who were you hoping for Darren?"
A good question. I look at it a little different, because the hire does impact me and my job, so I'm hoping for someone who is interesting to cover and is also cool with how I cover the team. (No way to know that ahead of time). As far as the football, I am intrigued by by Ryans. Beyond that? I don't really know. I just can't get into rooting one way or another for a certain guy. They will hire who they hire, I'll cover him, and life goes on. That's kind of how I see it, as boring as that might sound.
From John Tharp:
"Hey Darren, this one is out of left field, but hear it out. The Cardinals use the 3rd pick of the draft for a QB. Kyler is hurt, he may not be ready for the start of the season and there are questions about if he is 'The Guy.' The new QB will get all the reps in preseason and some game time. It's Kyler's job to lose. If he cannot perform for whatever reason, in two years he can be traded and you have your next guy already waiting, still on his rookie contract. If Kyler does come back strong and keeps his job, you have a nice young backup and a great trade piece for the future."
That seems like a fantastic waste of a high pick. If you are taking a QB third, that means you are moving on from Kyler. Right now. Murray and the guy picked third would never be happy about being teammates because they both will think they should be playing. Mostly, I hate the idea of taking a player in the first round -- especially that high -- that potentially might make little impact. And if he did, then you are getting no return on a QB you have paid millions and millions of dollars.
From Joe Casleton:
"I've been a Cardinals fan for over 55 years. Ups and downs over the years, but remain loyal. When the new GM speaks of ego I'm sure he means more egocentric. Confidence in oneself is different. That's what you want a player to have. A player may have great physical attributes but not be a good 'football player.' Haven't checked lately, but what does the salary cap look like so far for the Cardinals?"
As of now, the Cardinals are estimated to have about $15M in cap space, but that is before signing the draft class or getting to 51 salaries (which is how the offseason cap is figured) or making any other moves. (For instance, it's unlikely we will be talking about a $12M cap hit for Robbie Anderson.) That's why what Monti Ossenfort does in the next 6-to-8 weeks will mean so much.
From Sara B:
"Hi Darren. Some thoughts on the new GM and things.
- I respect the fact he came up from the ground floor. Paid his dues. Good for him.
- He needs some public speaking work. As someone who struggles with it myself, I can tell you it has zero reflection of his capacity to do his job. But I just empathize with him.
- Coming from the Patriots and Titans, I think we can expect a very OL-oriented guy.
- Did I hear the word 'sabermetrics?' Maybe he didn't and I'm projecting. I LOVE data-driven decisions.
- I think the big takeaway was his ego comment. I mean lets just address is the elephant in the room: Was that a direct shot at Kyler?
Thanks Darren! Looking forward to the future of the Cardinals."
- He has put in his time and interviewed for multiple GM jobs.
- He's never had to publicly speak. I don't think it's a big deal at all.
- I would expect the lines on both sides of the ball to get attention.
- You didn't hear sabermetrics. We will see where analytics lands with this GM and whomever the coach might be.
- I don't think it was a shot at Kyler. I think it was at the whole locker room, though, and it's not surprising with the way Michael Bidwill felt like accountability was lacking.
From Zack Gotley:
"Hi Darren, can you explain why the Cardinals thought Haason Reddick was too small to be a pass rusher? I'm confused."
The Cardinals made a mistake with Reddick in taking so long to move him outside and then not being sure he was worth a long-term deal (although the Panthers did the same a year later.) That said, when Reddick came out, the prevailing wisdom was that he was going to be an outside linebacker in a 4-3 or an inside linebacker in a 3-4, which is how the Cardinals proceeded. Here is a sampling I found of Reddick's pre-draft status:
- From NFL.com, "Reddick's speed and athleticism might give him a greater shot at impacting the game as a 3-4 inside linebacker or a 4-3 WILL rather than trying to bulk up and play the edge.... Lacks necessary bulk, length, and play strength to set a strong edge as an NFL 3-4 outside linebacker."
- From WalterFootball.com, " In the NFL, Reddick would probably fit best as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense given his body type. In time his speed and pursuit skills would make him a good fit as a Will (weakside) linebacker. However, he will need to learn a lot in terms of pass coverage and reading his keys for that position. In obvious passing situations, Reddick could be a dynamic edge rusher to get pressure on the quarterback."
- From Pro Football Focus: "If he is drafted to a 3-4 defense, Reddick could play inside linebacker on run downs and move outside to rush linebacker in passing situations. Played on the edge in college but may need to transition to more of an off-ball linebacker role at the next level."
Again, even in these circumstances the suggestion was a third-down pass rusher. And that'll be the last time to relitegate Haason Reddick. Time to move on.
From Terence Roche:
"Darren, my question is about the philosophy of drafting the best player available versus drafting for need at a particular position. Don't know your philosophy on that, but the question is this, are there any other positions (e.g. wide receiver) where the Cardinals are stacked enough in talent that they should not draft there? Thanks."
I mean, I don't think they need a tight end. Or a safety. Other than that? I like taking the best out there. Wide receiver probably isn't something I am focusing on if Hopkins is around in 2023. But mostly, I think -- other than maybe the first draft pick -- there are going to be enough players lumped around the other draft pick areas where you can pick and choose and still get about the same "best available" player.
From Carmine Natan:
"Hi Darren. You are literally at the Monti Ossenfort presser as I write this. He sounds like a nice guy, but there's too much starry-eyed amazement. These answers have zero substance. He's saying a lot while saying nothing. We still have no understanding of his team building philosophies. What was your first impression?"
"He's saying a lot while saying nothing." Are you new to press conferences from coaches and GMs? Most are like this, unfortunately. Besides it was going to be difficult for him to say a lot of specifics at his presser when a) he had been in the building about 10 hours, b) he had not yet really drilled down into the roster and c) he didn't yet know his coach, which will make a difference in the direction this team goes. My first impression is that he's a smart guy who has been a scout. If he's good at the GM role, how he is in front of the media doesn't really matter. (And I don't think he was bad at all, to be honest. Not sure if people were expecting some presidential speech or what.)
From Chad J:
"With free agency and the draft incredibly close with a new GM hire, does Ossenfort get to bring all his scouting reports from the Titans or does he need to start all over? Obviously, in-head knowledge moves with him, but does he leave behind all the actual written reports and grades as if he signed a non-compete clause?"
The scouting work every person does for every team is proprietary for the team. So if he did work for the Titans, that work stays there. It's why teams don't make major changes in their personnel department until after the draft, even if they bring in an outside GM. The Cardinals will have a different philosophy going into this year's draft with Ossenfort in place and a new coach putting in his system, but the scouting that will be used to put that into motion will be all the scouting the Cardinals did in the fall with those already here.
From Mason Schroeder:
"Hello Darren. Couple of questions.
- Could the cardinals trade DeAndre Hopkins to Miami in exchange for Jaylen Waddle?
- Who do the Cardinals project to get in the first round of the draft?"
Couple of answers.
- No. (Why would the Dolphins do that?)
- Too early. As it stands, and assuming the Bears stay in place at No. 1, they should have either edge rusher Will Anderson or defensive lineman Jalen Carter. But we will see.
From Matthew Stroh:
"Hey Darren. Thanks for the mailbag. When it come to the next head coach I feel that the Cardinals have the same problem I had with my kids. A few years ago my son had a lot of problems at school and I found my son doesn't do well with a teacher who tries to be a friend to all the students. My son does better with a teacher who is firm and makes the students accountable for what they do and be stern. I think that what the whole team needs. What do you think?"
I think that while your kid might flourish with a teacher like that, do you think all kids do? There is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Do I think the Cardinals might go more "stern?" Maybe. All coaches should be holding players accountable. Fellow players should be holding players accountable.
From John McGill:
"Hey Darren. Keep up the good work. I wanted to wait before asking this question so it would not sound insensitive. Is there anyway the NFL would ever allow Damar Hamlin play again or is his career over? My mom and I was talking about it and even with the advancement in sports medicine and safety protocols for players, I just do not see him playing again."
I read an article last week that Hamlin still requires oxygen and has his heart monitored regularly to ensure there are no setbacks. I would think it unlikely he would take the risk of playing again. But I do not know all the details, and that's a deeply personal decision between him, his family and his doctors. If the doctors say it's OK and he wants to play again, I think he should be allowed to play. But that seems to be well down the road.
From Jamie Binford:
"Why isn't Eric Bieniemy being considered for the Cardinals coaching vacancy? Why is this guy so overlooked?"
I don't know and I don't know. The Cardinals certainly are talking to quite a few different options.
From Sawyer Robinson:
"Darren. What are your thoughts on DeMeco Ryans? I've heard fans complain they don't want an unproven coach but look around, that's the only options there are. Payton, which is a longshot or Vance, which I like the guy, but please no. So that leaves 'unprovens.' I really like DeMeco. Another question, I know you've been through numerous coaching and GM changes over your tenure. Does anything change for you or the office staff when things like this occur? I can imagine a HC or GM wanting to create a new image for the team. So I'm curious if ever new leadership has ever come to you or the public-facing entities of the organization and asked you to change how you present the team to the audience?"
An excellent question. Here's how I look at my particular job and the job of Content and Creative as a whole. I do think there is a message to be put out with many videos or social posts, but for me in particular, I'm just writing what is going on. If they play well, I'm going to write it. If they play poorly, I'm going to write it. I am lucky that ownership and my bosses on the business side believe in what I do and having credibility. If I write something shaded the wrong way just to be positive, who would bother reading my stories? But there is always a transition where I will get to know the new GM and new coach, and they get to know me too. As for "unprovens," there are more than just Joseph and Payton. Reich and Flores too.
From Dalvi Palnahti:
"Hey Darren, would you trade our No. 3 pick for Sean Payton? I keep hearing that discussed on the radio and its making me nauseous. At No. 3 we could either take a franchise changing defensive player or trade it away to a QB-needy team. Either way, trading No. 3 for a coach would be among the worst moments in Cardinals history."
If the Cardinals were to engage for Payton, I would doubt they would trade the No. 3 overall pick.
From John Dunne:
"Hello Darren, I really liked the questions presented to our new GM Monti Ossenfort. I really appreciated he mentioned that he wanted for everyone in the organization to touch the Lombardi. My question is will you and other media colleagues continue to ask questions about what a historical Cardinal Super Bowl win would mean?"
I'm not sure what the point of that would be, to be honest. I'm not trying to denigrate the question, but does it need to be asked, for a franchise and for a fan base who has never won a Super Bowl?
From Matt Schroeder:
"As mastiff owners my kids are very excited when we see one in the news. What's the story of the big dog at the Super Bowl Ticket giveaway event? My kids were guessing that he was a Bidwill dog, maybe a 3ish year old male? He didn't have the grey on the muzzle that most get at age 5-6. By the way that giveaway was awesome."
That is Hank and yes indeed, it is Nicole Bidwill's dog.
From Chris Minton:
"Love the mailbag, almost as much as Cardinals Underground. Thank you (and the entire podcast team, for that matter) for engaging and entertaining us fans, through the good and bad. Since this was resuscitated in last week's mailbag, what is the process for new uniforms? I'm sure Michael Bidwill is the one who says 'let's get them,' but from that point forward, can you enlighten us on how it plays out from there?"
Yes, Bidwill would say OK. Then there would be a process of creating and going through a handful of designs that would get some evaluation from higher-ups in the organization but ultimately be Bidwill's final decision. I'm sure I'd have more details whenever it might happen.
"Darren, The Cardinals broke tradition and went outside the organization for the first time in decades to pick their new GM. They reached into another NFL organization and looked past the top of that organization, and found someone a little farther down the charts. I think the Cardinals should do it a second time. They should break tradition, go outside the organization for the first time in decades, reach into another organization, look past that organization's top, and reach further down to select a new team uniform. I was thinking perhaps the New England Patriots throwback uniforms could be the Cardinals new jersey. Or perhaps the Cincinnati white Bengals jersey. Do you think this is likely or will they just look internally? Also, please pass on this incredible idea to Mr. Bidwill."
That, I have to say, is a new one. And I probably won't be passing it along. But hey, thanks for playing.