As Monti Ossenfort arrives as the new GM and the new coach still to come, how about a mailbag? Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.
From Jackson Beckbower:
"Kneejerk thoughts on the new GM? Shortest and broadest question ever, lol"
His background is from two successful franchises with good cultures -- that thing Michael Bidwill wants to improve -- and has been around Super Bowl winners. Beyond that? I don't have many. I look forward to meeting him and getting to know him a little. But as with most things, the things we will have to know about him will come as the offseason plays out, with free agency and the draft and roster building.
From Monty Hejterskivodic:
"As someone who is following Cardinals (and the NFL in general) for past seven or eight years, and haven't been through the process of changing a GM yet, is this signing maybe rushed? I want to think Michael Bidwill knew Keim's decision for some time, and had time to look at and talk to GM prospects, but only a week to hire someone on position this important? Is that usual for NFL? I mean, interviews for basic jobs can take longer and go trough multiple rounds of conversations with employers. Nothing against Ossenfort, happy to see him in action, just questioning the method."
I think the head start Bidwill had on talking to GM candidates definitely gave him time. The difference between hiring someone like a GM or head coach and a random person in your organization is pretty large; usually there is a lot more information out there about these football candidates even before they come in for an interview. Mostly though, this is something that has been considered for weeks now.
From Holly Ewers:
"Hi Darren. Just had to swing by at the breaking news. So how do these things go with current coaches under contract? Is it up to the new GM to determine who we want to keep? Personally I'd really like to keep the wide receivers coach and defensive backs coach. Those two in particular went above and beyond this year. Thanks Darren."
The coaches who are under contract will remain there until the new coach is hired. It'll be the new head coach that will ultimately decide who is on his new staff.
From Chad J:
"Can you provide any insight on what takes place in the GM and head coach interviews in general? They are obviously several hours long but, for instance, do head coach candidates provide character references and résumés or does their body of work speak for itself?"
For the most part, the vetting that would come via references and résumés comes prior to the interviews. The teams are reaching out to these guys, it's not like the job is posted and people are sending in their stuff like many jobs. The teams have an idea what they are looking at. As for the interviews, there is a ton covered. Coaches usually go over how they would put together a staff, an offense and defense philosophy, and in the Cardinals' case, probably how they would make Kyler a better QB. The GM would talk drafting philosophy, thoughts on the current roster and salary cap structure. Candidates get a tour of the building -- they are trying to see if it is a good fit for them too -- and usually there is discussion of bigger picture stuff (media, marketing responsibilities, etc.)
From John The Draft Guy:
"The big question is, what if the Panthers trade up to one to get Stroud? The Texans take Young. The Colts are sitting at 4, and the other QB-needy teams start calling the Cards at 3 to get Levis before the Colts do. The question, do you take Will Anderson at 3 or trade down? Will Anderson is the Von Miller of this draft. Do you pass on Von Miller to get multiple picks or do you just take that one impact player?"
Assuming that the Cardinals see Anderson as that kind of generational pass rusher, that's who I would want. But you don't have enough information for your equation. What is being offered, and from who? What if the Colts are willing to swap with you and give you a third to get Levis? More importantly, you probably don't need to ask this in January. Got a long way to go.
From Ben Robison:
"The most interesting aspect of the DeAndre Hopkins trade situation is there is no GM/HC in place, meaning, this decision is coming from ownership. That's fascinating to me. It's the most overt Jerry Jones-esque move I've seen in the Mike Bidwill era. What are your general thoughts about it? Personally, I was hoping we would move Hop. We are in a full rebuild and a part of that is offloading big contracts from older guys. What happens if a GM/HC comes in here and wants to keep Hop?"
Well, let's start at the beginning. What "decision?" I haven't seen any decision made, and I don't think and decision has been made. I would think some of this speculation is Hopkins-fueled too -- the man has a no-trade clause, so if he doesn't want to go anywhere, he can't go anywhere. Bidwill said this during his press conference, he isn't making the evaluations. I highly doubt what they might want to do with Hop would be finalized either way until the GM and coach are in place. Frankly, there is no reason not to get there. Nothing could happen before March anyway.
From Mitchell Callo:
"I heard that Murray was going to have input on who the new head coach will be, are you kidding me? This guy has been nothing but a disappointment since he got here, he hasn't proven himself as a quarterback. He don't pick his coach, if he has any talent he will learn from him. If he don't like that get rid of him."
You "heard?" This is the problem with "heard." It's a sentence that doesn't explain enough, or you are listening to someone who likely doesn't understand the situation. Because otherwise you'd know that Murray's involvement isn't about "picking the coach." Simply isn't happening, nor was it going to happen. I also understand there are plenty of fans out there who don't like Murray and are looking for reasons to tee off on him, true or not.
From John Tharp:
"What is everyone's problem with Mr. Bidwill asking for input on coaches from the team? These are grown men with grown egos. I would hope that every manager would ask input from the team, whether it be sports, retail, fast food, on what they like and dislike in a boss. Also, there is no way the Cardinals will give up the third pick of the draft for Payton. I know the Saints want a first-rounder. I would say the same thing too. But something everyone is forgetting the ultimate decision is not up to the Saints, it's up to the team and Payton wanting to be together. Finally, in the draft I would like to see the Cards trade back in the draft. Give up the third pick for more draft capital to build the team for two or three years down the road. Love the mailbag!"
Here are some answers:
- I would understand if the players indeed were getting a major say in who the coach would be. That would seem, after going through a situation where it felt like the coach had lost at least some of the team, to be difficult. But that isn't what is happening as I see it.
- I don't see the Cardinals giving up the third pick overall. But this whole Sean Payton thing is way more complicated than just what compensation might go to the Saints.
- As I mentioned earlier, I could see a trade down and I like the idea. But I do like the idea that you get a guy like Will Anderson -- assuming, again, that he looks like a stud off the edge most think he might be -- because that is a player who can change a defense for the better.
From Bob Kitsos:
"I know this is the new coach's decision, but what do you think about Kurt Warner as a possible offensive coordinator? Do you think he would be interested if the terms were right?"
No. Warner doesn't want to be an NFL coach. He has no desire to put in that kind of time for one job. He's got a good life, making money as a TV analyst, doing some QB videos and consulting on the side, and actually has a life outside of football. Unfortunately, NFL coaches really don't, especially in-season.
From Hog Lover:
"Darren I realize the Cards aren't required to do an injury report now that the season is over. But do you have any info on the injury to Josh Jones?"
I have not heard anything but I don't think it was anything catastrophic.
From Neil Braly:
"We heard from Jalen Thompson about improvements for next year, about team chemistry and attention to detail. I kinda got the feeling of team chemistry from 'Hard Knocks.' They've also been saying that details are important since the Week 1 blowout against KC. Will this finally be achieved under new leadership? What is your perspective on this answer? Thank you for your time."
I gave my long explanation about how I feel about chemistry in last week's mailbag. But yes, it can be achieved with new leadership. Nothing is guaranteed, however. We are so early in this process, it's impossible to know exactly how this all might play out. You need a new coach and new GM, yes, but you also need to reconfigure the roster.
From Jeremy Heathcote:
"Hey Dazza. Always love your work, mate, and after a dismal season (mind you Cards are still undefeated in games I've visited from over here in Oz as I got to the Saints game), I have two questions. How are the opposition teams selected outside of the NFC West, especially those who play at home, and when does the draw come out? Hopefully I'll get to both home and away next season so would be great to look at opposition I've never had chance of seeing live. Cheers mate."
The opponents are generally set years in advance on a rotating basis, with all but three games set before the season even starts. There is a home game and a road game in the NFC based on where the Cardinals finish in the division. For instance, the Cardinals were going to play the similar team division-finish wise in the NFC South, and that's why the Falcons will visit State Farm Stadium next season. And there is an AFC game based on the same division finisher from the AFC division you played two years previous. Next year the Cardinals were set to play the NFC East and AFC North, as well as these three rotating games and the division. As for the schedule, it comes out a couple weeks after the draft in mid-May.
From Stevie Henderson:
"Was listening to Wolf and I wonder sometimes if the guys actually listen to what they say. We all know Wolf wants to see Kyler under center more and a more traditional game plan, but he also praises coaches for designing systems that highlight the player's strengths. Isn't that what Kliff was trying to do? Can you have it both ways?"
I think that's a fair question. Murray wasn't the only one who liked shotgun. In one of his first interview sessions, Kliff said he didn't think there was anything you could do under center that you couldn't do in shotgun. Clearly, Kyler doesn't want to be under center much or run QB sneaks. But there will be change. The question will be how Kyler adapts, and what exactly the new look will look like.
From Colin Ondrejech:
"Is there any chance that we trade Kyler Murray this offseason because I don't see him being a good player for this franchise."
From Mason Schroeder:
"Hi Darren, I just want to ask a few questions.
- Are the rumors true that DeAndre Hopkins might be traded?
- Are the Cardinals in consideration of hiring Sean Payton?
- Will the show "HARD KNOCKS" be going on through the offseason?"
- See above, but "might" is the right word I'd think.
- Yes, Payton is possible. How possible, don't know.
- No. The ninth episode last week was the last of the season. But our in-house show "Flight Plan" will be starting soon.
From Ken Moroney:
"How does our training and medical staff stack up to the other 31 teams in terms of offensive line injuries? I have been a Cardinals fan since 1966 in St Louis. I've had season tickets with my friend since they arrived in Arizona. Do the Cardinals have a poor reputation with players that left to go play with other teams in terms of perceived professionalism by our management staff and above board dealings with players?"
I have no idea when it comes to offensive line injuries -- if you look across the league, most teams deal with multiple OL injuries. It's the game. As for a reputation for players, I am sure there are players unhappy with what happened in Arizona, just like I have talked to many players who have come to Arizona unhappy how they were treated at their previous team. The system for players inevitably creates hard feelings for some.
From Glenny Irwind:
"Hey you didn't do a snap counts or grades article for the 49ers game. What's happs? Also, I have suggested before, but I don't think there's anything wrong with including negative grades from the game too. It's all subjective anyways right? Players famously hate PFF. So if the negative grades mean nothing, than so do the positive grades."
Given the circumstances of the day after, going through that process didn't seem like it made sense to me especially with the number of top players who weren't playing. The top grades in that final game on offense were G Will Hernandez (83.1), WR A.J. Green (81.1), TE Trey McBride (69.9), T Josh Jones (65.6) and WR Greg Dortch (64.1). On defense it was LB Dennis Gardeck (88.0), CB Jace Whittaker (74.3), DE J.J. Watt (73.6), S Josh Thomas (72.3) and LB Ezekiel Turner (67.5).
For the season, the top offensive grades (I'm saying at least 120 snaps) were Jones (75.8), WR DeAndre Hopkins (72.9), T D.J. Humphries (72.3), T Kelvin Beachum (70.6) and RB James Conner (69.7). Lowest were TE Stephen Anderson (33.9), QB Trace McSorley (36.4), G Cody Ford (41.2), C Sean Harlow (43.2) and G Lecitus Smith (44.8).
On defense, it was S Budda Baker (74.5), DL Zach Allen (72.7), LB Cam Thomas (69.9), LB Ben Niemann (69.0), CB Antonio Hamilton (68.5) and Watt (68.3). Low were DT Leki Fotu (32.4), DL Michael Dogbe (34.8), LB Tanner Vallejo (41.1), LB Jonathan Ledbetter (43.4) and Whittaker (46.3).
From Roger Sandate:
"As the Cardinals are looking for a new coach and general manager are they also looking into getting new uniforms the this season?"
Ah, yes. It's been a minute. Good to see the topic once again. We'll see. There are other priorities right now.