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You've Got Mail: The Longest Week Of Camp

Topics include Jordan Hicks, Fitz's decision and Kyle's departure

Eno Mailbag 080321

Already a week into camp -- where does the time go? (To be honest, I'd love to speed it up -- Week 2 is always the longest week of camp, before a game week.) Man, where's Kyle these days? Anyway, we move on. As always, leave a question for a future mailbag here.

From KC Davis:

"How does a team or coach reconcile the message that everyone has to earn their spot, while also handing starting jobs to guys like Zaven? I'm not complaining. I get it, and I think most players get it when it comes to first-round picks. But it is an exercise in relationship management. I feel for Jordan Hicks. Handing starting jobs to rookies, while benching proven veterans, cant leave a good impression on the vets; or even the other rooks who are told 'earn your spot.' Simmons wasn't handed the starting job his rookie year. So what's special about Zaven? It's a fair question."

It is fair. We will have to see what they see in Collins that made them want to make this decision. I think there are a lot of factors here. I do think they wanted to get more athletic at the position and what they saw from Hicks last year pointed them toward looking at Collins in the draft in the first place. I think they wanted to get Simmons and Collins -- the future -- working together as soon as possible. I think Collins getting an offseason Simmons didn't makes a difference. It will be interesting to see how Collins performs in the preseason. But I'll also say I'm a little surprised at how this has struck now, given that Kingsbury and Keim and Joseph had already all talked multiple times that Collins was going to be the starter over Hicks. If they were saying that, there was never going to be competition, right?

From Veer Saddique:

"It must be said that to go out like this for Fitz is kind of sad. You have always said that Fitz was just going to disappear someday. He's not a presser guy or big goodbye guy. I think we understand that. But this whole Brett Favre-like 'is he or isn't he' saga is worse than simply disappearing. Fitz is better than this. If this is the end, it's a sour note to go out on. Which is why I hope he comes back for one more. Then at the end of it just give a wave to the crowd and that'll be the end. But at least we'll know its the end, and that's better."

What makes you think, if he were to return, he'd for sure say he was done at the end of the season? He didn't do that now, why would next year be any different? I get that fans want some closure. Heck, so do I. But I don't think it's sad. It's Fitz's career and his life. He's earned the right to go out -- or not -- the way he wants. We all want him to make a big announcement, but it's for us. Let's not pretend people are upset for him.

From Michael Hanley:

"Darren, can you provide a status report on rookie tight end Cary Angeline? Historically, the Cardinals have used tight ends for blocking, whereas his strength is as a red-zone threat because of his height, soft hands, and basketball skills. He can also block. Thank you."

To be honest, I don't think there is much to say. He's lower on the depth chart, and it'll make a difference what he does in the preseason games. Obviously there is room at tight end for a surprise, but it's too early to know yet if any of these guys will be that surprise.

From Michael Travers:

"Hello Darren, this season has started out with a bang, high expectations all around the organization. Us fans also have expectations as we enter this season, but we do not want another Calais Campbell situation with Chandler Jones. Calais had three good years with Jacksonville before signing with Baltimore. It could be a big mistake not to sign Chandler for a minimum of two more years. Since elite pass rushers are hard to find or draft do you think a Cardinal in hand is worth the investment? PS: I wish Kyle Odegard good luck on his new gig. Suggestion on replacement -- maybe your son?"

As I've said before, I understand why the Cardinals are handling this the way they are, just as I understand why Chandler would be disappointed he has yet to get an extension. Every decision always carries risk. Jones could be another Campbell, yes. That's what Steve Keim has to weigh. It'll be interesting if Chandler gets off to a good start if something happens in-season. As far as my son, thanks for the idea but a) rules say I can't hire my family, which is understandable, and b) he can't write. Really. (OK, kind of. But he's a math guy.)

From Hannah Banana:

"Darren! Before computers how did you get your breaking news stories as a journalist? Like back when you worked for the Guadalupe Gazette, how would you find out and break stories when the Cardinals signed somebody? Did you have to rely on the team ringing you up and telling you? Or did you have interns hanging outside the Tempe facility all day just looking for visitors? How did teams know when other teams were cutting somebody? Did the cutting team have to call up every other team and inform them? I don't understand how the world existed before computers. Crime had to have been so easy."

Damn, Hannah, you sound sooooo young. I mean, the internet and instant information about sports still wasn't a thing when I first started covering this team. There were fax machines, you know. Some of the info went that way. Yes, it was about press releases on real paper, but you also called people more often, talked to agents. Believe it or not, people indeed actually spoke on their phones and didn't just text. As for the crime, given the amount of cyberattacks, are we sure crime isn't easier now?

From Rob Bates:

"I'm getting tired of these athletes. They want more money or a trade. Why can't I ask to pay less money for my tickets or ask for a trade. Only fair. Been here since day one and always a supporter. I think I'm just getting frustrated with the whole thing. It must be time to give it up. Thanks for allowing my whining."

You are well within your rights to ask to pay less. Good luck with that.

(Quick aside: Everybody wants more money in their jobs. Athletes sometimes have leverage to ask, and athletes definitely, unlike most people, have their business out there for the world to see.)

From French Toast:

"I like to go big or go home with my questioning, play along, so here goes.....Kyler Murray to Green Bay for A-Rod. If we're talking rings, that's the way to go. Yes, CP and the Suns fell short (I don't want to talk about it) but it was HOF shoe-in, proven asset, court QB CP3 who led us there. A-Rod immediately makes us a contender. I feel that's inarguable. I think the decision just comes down to if you want to trade the future for the now. And after seeing a championship slip through our fingers recently, I'm 100% on board to doing WHATEVER it takes to get that championship. I don't think any of us will be worried about the next 10 years while boiling in the heat of the Cardinals championship parade."

Well, French, to begin with, that's not going to happen. I understand your thinking, but we don't yet know what Murray will be either. A-Rod wasn't reaching a Super Bowl after two years either -- he hadn't even played yet. You are right that a championship parade would satiate the fanbase for a time. But even if the Cards added A-Rod and, say, Jalen Ramsey, it doesn't guarantee a title.

From Simon from China:

"Hi Darren. Hate to see Kyle leave - really hope you can find a suitable replacement to keep the fun dynamics going in Card Underground (my suggestion: how about bringing in producer Jim Omohundro in as a interim podcaster?) Now, my question. Recently, the PFF guys were discussing the fact that D-Hop was only used as a left side receiver, which is a rarity in nowadays NFL, where receivers are moved around constantly to exploit mismatches. Apparently, Kliff is sticking to the way the college spread offense works - keeping all receivers at one position to benefit from quicker between-snaps procedures and thus creating high tempo. Also, this system makes it easier on receivers - they only have to learn one part of the playbook and never have to 'mirror' plays when lining up on the other side.

The PFF guys believe that NFL defensive backs are too good and too fast to be overwhelmed by that high-speed system. The only way to win against today's defenses is by exploiting mismatches - therefore receivers need to be moved around. I am curious on your thoughts on this. All the best and tell Kyle I will miss his analytical takes!"

I will pass on your best wishes to Kyle, although he assured me he would be reading the mailbag weekly because why wouldn't he? As for the playbook, it's a good question. Chase Edmonds suggested earlier in camp the need for the Cards and Kliff to adapt more often to defenses; this could be along those lines. I don't know how the Cardinals will further their offensive evolution.

From Cap Black:

"Hello Darren. I would like to discuss the required vaccination per the NFL release: The vaccine is required for all Tier 1 staff including coaches, front-office executives, equipment managers and scouts. Which we saw in action with the Vikings OL coach. (Editors note: Rick Dennison was originally reported to be fired without the vaccine; he is now serving as an extra coach who can only work virtually.) Is there a timeframe in place for these actions?"

The entire Cardinals coaching staff is vaccinated. Kliff Kingsbury said that at the outset of camp, and it was something owner Michael Bidwill I believe was going to have happen regardless of the NFL rules.

From Shravaka:

"Hi Darren, I must admit I am really saddened and disappointed to learn of the criticism and snark coming from Patrick Peterson towards Steve Keim. Does he not know that when he singles out Keim he also by default is including Mr. Bidwill? Is it not common sense that Keim is keeping Mr. Bidwill informed of all important decisions being made? At this point one wonders if P2 is burning bridges that cannot be rebuilt. The PED cheating scandal, overt displays of anger towards officials, and now this drama seems like it might exclude him from not only the Cardinals Ring of Honor, but also any consideration for the HOF. One also wonders how much of an influence P2 has had on the Chandler Jones drama given Patrick's comment about having him in Minnesota and their relationship. Would not be surprised if the entire Valley asked him if he could please shut up!"

Every person is allowed to say what he feels if that's what he wants, and live with the consequences. This isn't going to have any impact on the Hall of Fame. Those voters won't care about that. The Ring of Honor is something Peterson has likely earned, but you're right, saying a bunch of stuff like this doesn't help. Look, Patrick is hurt. He wanted to stay, and the Cardinals didn't feel as strongly about that. I get it.

From Robert Malicki:

"My respect and thankfulness for Larry Fitzgerald as a person and player will always be there. As a longtime NFL fan there have been but a few players who've 'suited up' for 17 seasons. Larry has a birthday in about a month so age is a factor, but he is so close to the club's player longevity record for a position player that this could be what he's 'wrestling with himself' about? To have his name in the Cardinal's record book with that achievement, maybe that's it? Rounding the turn and entering the home stretch is a cold fact, I faced up to it as my own retirement approached."

I don't think any record is at the forefront of Fitz's delay. Assuming he hasn't already decided to hang it up and is just choosing not to say anything, I think the only things he's considering right now are a) Can this team contend?; b) Are they going to use me?; c) Is it worth it for what they are offering; and d) (and maybe most important) do I want to go through the work one more time to be able to play?

From Cy Fredrick:

"Are you taking applications to fill Kyle Odegard's spot on the podcast? I am available to give the level-headed fans perspective."

That is so kind of you. But yes, while there might be a couple of Kyle-less podcasts while we go through the hiring process, there will eventually be a "new Kyle."

But ... how do you feel about analytics and momentum?

From Dan Marks:

"Katherine and Kyle!?! Obviously they both got offers they couldn't refuse, and I am happy for them, but ugh! I'm a smidge older than Kyle, and I've been a fan of the Cards a smidge longer than you've been covering them, so I am going to miss the dynamic between you two, because it was the perfect median. It's actually ironic, Kyle had his depth chart analysis of the roster, and was filling in for you on the mailbag, so I thought a funny question would be: who's third on the depth chart/practice squad for mailbag questions. But this has gone on long enough. New jerseys, Daryl Washington, McNabb, Chandler Jones contract, Kyler too short… and all the other nonsense that gets sent your way."

Kyle was an excellent yang to my yin, and he will be missed. (And here's the other fun fact: I actually called Katherine Fitzgerald when Kyle told me he was leaving to see if she might be interested; alas, she was already about to agree to terms with her new spot in Buffalo.) As for the mailbag depth chart, I'd probably say Craig Grialou is No. 2 right now, but I'm hoping a 300-pound lineman doesn't fall on my ankle until we have filled out the roster.

From SW:

"Daryl, sad to see Kyle Odegard leaving the Cardinals media team. Wish him the best. Had a few KO questions for you:
1. Did he leave because you were worried about him replacing you in the mailbag? (I joke).
2. Who are you gong to argue with about football math? More broadly, any plans to have someone new writing on the website and podcasting? What can you tell us about future plans?
3. Will you please share with us a good Kyle Odegard story/memory? As always thanks for the mailbag."

Daryl? That cuts, SW. That cuts deep. But because you have Kyle questions, I press on.

  1. I figured it was a joke. But Kyle got a chance to get another job that allows him less of a grind in season and work from home, and I respect that.
  2. Clearly, Paul won't be there to take up the math mantle. But yes, we will have someone in replacing Kyle. I'll say more when I can. It won't necessarily be anyone that does things exactly like Kyle, but whoever it ends up being will bring their own unique perspective.
  3. Some of my stories aren't for public consumption. But Kyle started midway through Bruce Arians' first season, during the Atlanta game, which is when that 2013 team really took off. So they went 7-2, and then 11-5 and then the next year 13-3 and made the NFC Championship, and I remember talking to him after the Cards beat the Packers in the playoffs that it was incredible they had been so good the entire time he had been working for the team. Alas, that did not last.
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