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You've Got Mail: The Path To Excellence

Topics include keys to improvement, Chandler Jones and banana pudding

Mailbag Kyler Murray

It's another guest mailbag, which means I didn't get demoted after Round 1 last month. While the Suns are the talk of the town right now, Cardinals' training camp is creeping up at the end of the month, and there are questions to answer. If you have a query for a future mailbag, submit it here.

From Phil Coscia:

"What says you as to where the critical component(s) that the team must excel at in 2021?"

Kyler Murray is going to be an elite threat with his legs for the foreseeable future, but can the Cardinals add a more potent passing game? Murray was No. 22 in the NFL in yards per attempt last season at 7.1, and if he can get above 7.5, the offense has the capacity to be special. On defense, much of it comes down to J.J. Watt and Chandler Jones. If both are healthy and productive, there is some serious upside. The Cardinals should be competitive on a weekly basis in 2021, but if those two things happen, they could be staring at a special season.

From Raymon House:

"Aloha from Hawaii. New Cardinals fan here. I like the emphasis put on training young guys here, so I suspect what we do at TE roster-wise depends on how these young ones look once TC is officially underway and coaches can evaluate just what they have. My question is this: have you anything you can share on any of them? Seikovits especially looks like a possibility, with his size, IMG workouts, and the fact he played WR in Europe, as well as QB."

Aloha! That is usually the plan: The coaches and scouts evaluate the young players early in camp and then make the proper roster adjustments. As for the progress of Bernhard Seikovits, Cary Angeline and Bruno LaBelle, it's really hard to make any grand statements just yet. We saw very little of them in the offseason, and tight ends have to block, which they can't show until the pads come on. There is room for one of the youngsters to make the 53-man roster with a good showing in camp, but I wouldn't be surprised if a veteran is eventually added to join Maxx Williams and Darrell Daniels. A year on the practice squad could be the most likely path for one of the undrafted guys.

From James McLean:

"What do you think of the Cardinals of at least of making the playoffs or even play in championship game of NFC?"

The division is such a juggernaut that it is far from a shoo-in. However, making the playoffs is certainly a realistic goal after being on track nearly all of last season. From there, the presence of Murray and the talent around him would make the NFC Championship game a possibility. The Cardinals need plenty of things to go right for the second scenario to happen, but when a team has a star quarterback on a rookie deal, it is plausible. The Cardinals need only to look at the Chiefs, Ravens and Bills as recent examples.

From Don P:

"Wondering if you have any influence with DJ? Maybe you can get him to give out his banana pudding recipe."

Humphries may choose to keep it under wraps to continue his winning streak at the cook-off, but I'll ask next time I see him.

From Duane Wisner:

"Hello Kyle or Darren, If Chandler Jones isn't happy with his contract situation, yes he would like an extension, however he doesn't have any guaranteed money left on his current contract except a $5M bonus. In theory, he could get hurt in camp, the Cardinals cut him and would save $15M. Is it possible that the Cardinals could guarantee the $15M now so he could come to camp worry-free and prove he deserves an extension? Or would this be a poor business decision, as players in the future would want to do the same? Thank you for your time, have a nice day!"

If Jones gets injured in camp, the Cardinals would be on the hook for that money. They can technically cut him for skill reasons, so there is some validity to getting guaranteed money in the contract from Jones' perspective, but there would be no reason for the Cardinals to release a perennial Pro Bowler still at the tail end of his prime. The team is expecting big things from Jones in 2021, and the perceived chasm seems to be more about a potential contract extension.

From Nathan Holland:

"I enjoyed this weeks flight plan episode. I am overly observational so please excuse the oddness of my questions.

1. Watt and Gardeck both have the same exact very pronounced ridge on their noses. Its like a notch right at the top. Is that from breaking their noses? Watt has famously broken his like 3x in the NFL. Is that the source of Gardeck's as well?

2. Also, Gardeck has a tattoo of a Lay's Potato Chip bag on his right shoulder. Can you ask him about that please?

3. Now that Hudson is our #1 C, who is #2? I know we drafted one from Penn St (a good center school. A.Q. Shipley too!). Also Lamont still here.

4. Is Edmonds really our #1 RB? I know he inherited it by default, and its going to be a committee thing with Conner here. But it almost feels under-reported. This is a big deal. Are you going to have any pieces on it coming up? I assume going into the season as the starter has a different preparation process than as the #2."

I like the varied questions in this one, Nathan. Here are my answers:

1. Not sure if Gardeck has broken his nose. After I ask Humphries for his banana pudding recipe, I'll ask Dennis about his nose.

2. After a quick Google search, I have gotten to the bottom of the tattoo. Gardeck to 12 News last year: "It's like a chip on your shoulder. But I don't just have one, I have a whole bag."

3. Lamont Gaillard is probably the leader in the clubhouse, but there are certainly options behind Hudson. Veteran Max Garcia and the draft pick you speak of, Michal Menet, will aim to win the backup job.

4. I wouldn't say Edmonds inherited the starting running back position by default. The Cardinals could have tried to re-sign Kenyan Drake or grabbed another featured back on the open market. They believe in Edmonds, and, yes, he's fully aware this is a huge season for him.

From Kelly Smelser:

"Traditionally four preseason games gave us a polished product game one of each season, it was even more evident and important with shorter schedule when I started watching in 1969. When a mudder like Leroy Kelly ruled! Lack of a run game or offensive coordinator, bugs me does it bug you at all?"

That paragraph took a quick left turn, Kelly. The Cardinals have a run game coordinator in Sean Kugler, who Kliff Kingsbury leans on quite a bit, and the rushing attack has been above average the past two years. I can see why fans would want an offensive coordinator alongside Kingsbury, but he clearly doesn't feel it is necessary. He will always be the play-caller when in charge, and must feel like the OC would be too duplicative under the current structure.

From John Doyle:

"All the chatter concerning our head coach, has me wondering whom the ultimate responsibility it is as pertaining to leading the league in penalties? Feels to me it falls on the coach. Thanks for the time."

I'm not sure it falls on one person. The coaching staff needs to do a good job of hammering home the details, while the players must play under control enough to avoid bad penalties. There will always be holding, pass interference and other calls during games, but the pre-snap issues and situational awareness need to improve in 2021.

From Derek Cooper:

"I just bought a hat, wrist sweat bands and winter gloves for my Suns (It's cold up here in the Black Hills during football season here!). So how much capital does it really mean towards the team if the Cards reach the Super Bowl and can the proceeds help the team the next year in the NFL-scheme of things?"

While it would be a financial windfall, there is a hard salary cap in the NFL, so the effect on the next season would be relatively minimal. This is the perfect question for me to answer, by the way. Instead of enjoying the thought of the Cardinals making a run to the Super Bowl, Derek and I are hypothesizing about the ramifications it would have on the following season. I may be a robot.

From Justin Dowry:

"What is the update with Miles Brown? It was a very unfortunate, let go. I think we should see him on the field again this season. He would be a great power on our defensive line. Miles Brown has it all; the speed, power and technique is superb. Brown is a very underrated and has so much potential. I think we need to BRING HIM BACK!"

Miles Brown is a super nice guy but it seems like the evaluators do not believe he is superior to the players currently on the roster.

From Michael Schmorr:

"So we are planning an epic trip with the kids to Florida for Disney culminating with the Cards-Jaguars game Sunday. Do you think the NFL will increase seating capacity causing ticket prices to drop and give us more selection. I need all your inside sources on this one. Right now tickets are so expensive but I don't want to be sitting up in the rafters either. Should I wait to buy? Or do you have any press passes for us?"

I went on a vacation to Providence once and waited too long to book a hotel, thereby ending up in the rafters, a.k.a. Seekonk, Rhode Island. Moral of the story: Sometimes it's good to have the peace of mind of tickets in hand. Your kids can also send over their writing samples for press pass consideration.

From Dhruvraj Parmar:

"Did Darren Urban get a neck tattoo after all the hard work from Lisa and Fitz?"

Not yet, but at this point, I really think he needs to give the people what they want. Just imagine how great of a conversation starter it would be for the rest of his life. I see no downside, personally.

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