Skip to main content

Arizona Cardinals Home: The official source of the latest Cardinals headlines, news, videos, photos, tickets, rosters and game day information

You've Got Mail: Vikings Week

Topics include more Eno, Ford and the offensive line, and draft picks traded away

Vallejo Fotu mailbag

The minibye is over. The mailbag is back. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From Robert Layock:

"With Eno performing well in the chance he's had with James Connor being out, do you see a situation where the run game could become similar to last year with more of a split in snaps and Eno taking the role of Chase Edmonds? Also, the offensive line was improved with Cody Ford playing do you see him now becoming the starter?"

Kliff Kingsbury made it clear Conner will remain as the RB1. Whether the snap split becomes more even, we will see. I wouldn't be surprised to see it because Eno has been so effective. As for the offensive line, I think the plan all along was to have Ford be Justin Pugh's replacement once he returned and actually got some practice -- he just happened to do it this past game because Garcia got hurt. And I wouldn't be surprised if Garcia misses some time too.

From Larry Perlman:

"How is it that the most effective receiver on the team in the early going, Greg Dortch, is now being almost ignored? I get it that the team invested a draft pick on Rondale and feel that he has tremendous upside while Dortch was undrafted but who is getting results?"

Judging by the playing time against the Saints, Dortch is back in the mix, Moore is going to get more outside work and the odd man out is A.J. Green. I get why people are wondering why Dortch isn't playing more. But now I'd expect he will, and he got a TD catch against the Saints.

From Kevin from Canada:

"Hey Darren, was awesome to see you on the Pat McAfee Show Thursday talking Cardinals! Hope to see you back on the show sometime! My question is about K1's accuracy. He definitely looked more accurate/calm this game other than the overthrow to Anderson and a couple plays he held the ball too long. What do you think has been the cause for the dip in accuracy especially deep throws?"

That's a great question. The one thing Kyler had done so well the last two years was his accuracy on deep passes but it hasn't been there all season. Murray was over 70 percent on his passes most of last year and finished at 69.2; this season his completion percentage is at 65.5. That's a pretty serious drop. I am guessing it'll jump now that Hop is back; he was at 69 percent against the Saints.

From Sean Viktorias:

"In fairness to you, I know you don't have inside information or any update, but I just wanted to touch upon the firesale in Carolina again. Well established that the Cardinals were interested in Derek Brown in 2020. We absolutely need more talent on the DL. Rashard Lawrence is a great guy, but it's clear he might not be long for the NFL with his recurrent injuries. In my opinion, a second-round pick for Brown would be tremendous value, win-win for both teams. What are you thoughts about it?"

My thoughts are a) I don't think it's a firesale; Anderson was on his way out anyway and there has been conversation about McCaffery being dealt almost since he got that contract, but I don't think Burns/Brown/Moore are going anywhere; b) how is a single second-round pick for a rising defensive tackle a win for a rebuilding team? That'd be a steal for the Cardinals but I have no earthly idea why the Panthers would do it.

From Aussie Cards:

"Hi Darren. First off, great Folktales episode this week. Quality work from Paulie Production Value. Among a number of bright spots from the win against the Saints, Eno Benjamin and Keaontay Ingram were impressive both carrying and catching the football. Do you think we see more of a running back by committee approach when James Conner and Darrel Williams come back, particularly given their recent injuries?"

The main guy who should get credit for "The Stanton Shuffle" should be Kyle Dorony, FYI. Anyway, as I have mentioned before, Kliff said Conner was still the guy. And frankly, I don't see enough real work for more than two healthy guys at a time. If everyone is healthy, I still expect Conner then Eno then a sprinkle of Williams.

From Sebas Quiros:

"Great win, first off. Two defensive TDs is big. Offense still feels clunky at times but it looked better and with Hop back I hope we just start trending upwards. Two quick things though. Darren, any idea what's going on with the O-line? I know there are injuries but I feel like still some starters are getting beat too easy? And second, I feel like I've seen rushers like Golden or Myjai covering a little too many times. Why is Vance scheming it like that?"

I would have to have specific examples; I do think there have be a couple of offensive line hiccups, but again, I also know Hudson hasn't been in and now Pugh is gone. As far as the edge rushers in coverage, I get it. But if you only do one thing with a defensive player all the time, eventually, an offensive coordinator is going to find a way to exploit it. So yes, once in a while, they are going to be in coverage.

From Jey Runnan:

"Hiya Darren. So with the injury to Justin Pugh, that sounds like a wrap on his career in Arizona. Great dude. Worth every penny. We already know Hudson is likely done too. So we will have two glaring holes on the interior, arguably three if we aren't happy with the right guard. Can you discuss please what you envision is the future of the OL? And please be specific. The vagueness of this team is maddening."

I'm not sure what vagueness you are talking about with the line -- we are long past the time when the same five guys are all going to line up together for five straight years. But I'll try and guesstimate what we are looking at in 2023. Left tackle will be Humphries. I do wonder if this will be it for Pugh -- if he already considered being done, maybe, but he didn't sound like he really wanted to stop playing as much as not play unless he got the money he believes he is worth. I think that's why Cody Ford -- who will also be a free agent -- will get a chance to convince the Cardinals he should be the guy for next year. I could see potentially drafting a center or getting one in free agency. Will Hernandez could return at right guard and I do think they want to develop Marquis Hayes. At right tackle, I am guessing Beachum or Josh Jones finally takes over. But we have a long way to go with all of that.

From Joe Cardea:

"My question regards the 49ers trading a boatload of draft picks for Christian McCaffery. How is the 49ers O-line? I realize you're limited in online opinions but comparing starters to last year, have they had retirements, injuries, free agency losses? I keep seeing stories about their skill positions, but they better have an O-line or they are in trouble."

I mean, I'm sure the 49ers wish they could be a little better, but they have two high-level tackles in Williams and McGlinchey. I don't think OL is their issue, and I think CMC can be good. But he better stay healthy, and to me, the biggest question about the Niners is still QB.

From Clem Brill:

"While I was sad to see Devon Kennard go, I was very happy to see Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders get reps. And the fact they actually got sacks (in Seattle) was stupendous. My question is do we go all-in and just cut Markus Golden too? Let's start Thomas and Myjai full time time. Why not? I like Golden but he's not a difference-maker."

I'm not sure why you think Thomas and Sanders would be difference-makers at this point -- unless you are talking about the mistakes as young players they might make playing that much. Golden isn't going anywhere -- he just signed a contract extension -- and they aren't going to throw the young players in that much unless the season is basically over. Since they are only a game out of first place, that is not now.

From Mike in Gilbert:

"A question for Urban Scrawl: Since I'm sure 90% of your mailbag is becoming 'fire Kliff,' replacing uniform or D.Wash questions, I'd also like to ask, on our increasingly impressive D, with Zaven Collins showing up, and rookies making plays, do you think we'll be able to keep Vance Joseph around in the same coordinator position next year?"

One step at a time. Vance would like to be a head coach again. So if he gets that chance, I think he'd very much like that. But the odds say yes, Joseph will still be around at DC next season.

From Dan Linggi:

"Hi Darren. I understand the Cardinals offensive problems are much more complex than any one player, but Greg Dortch is fun to watch. He's an underdog. He plays hard and fast. Yes, yes… AJ Green is the only player that gives the Cardinals size at the position. I know. But from an entertainment aspect, AJ Green is absolutely no value added. Why not get a little creative and let Dortch play the Z?"

This question came before the Saints game and as that played out, it was obvious Dortch was going to play over Green. Now, it is set up differently -- when Dortch comes in, he plays slot, and Rondale Moore moves outside. But it seems as if the Cardinals have come to the same conclusion that Dortch needs some snaps.

From John McGill:

"Darren. I hope things are going well for you and yours. I know they want to utilize Rondale Moore's speed, but it seems like giving him the ball in the backfield is not working. He usually loses yardage or the gain very little. I not sure if it is the offensive line being able to block for him or them disguising the play. I would like to see him try to catch the ball in space and get more positive yardage after the catch. Am I completely off-base on this?"

The idea with everything Moore gets is to get him into space. That includes the plays in the backfield, the quick screens, whatever. If Moore ends up with more snaps on the outside going forward, it's going to limit what he ends up with in the backfield by definition. I think unlocking Moore consistently remains one of the biggest issues facing this team.

From Steve Aurora:

"For a team who has so many needs, it sure seems like we've traded away a lot of picks for non-contributing players. Do you have a running ledger of the picks we've given up? The picks for Ford, Mullen, Anderson."

I believe the Cardinals are going to get something out of Ford especially and Anderson going forward. But to your question, the Cardinals gave up a 2023 fifth-round pick for Ford, a 2023 seventh-round pick (that becomes a sixth if he appears in 10 games) for Mullen and a 2024 sixth-rounder and 2025 seventh-rounder for Anderson. Keep in mind the Cardinals are in line to gain comp picks in the third-, fifth-, and sixth-rounds based on free-agent losses.

From Troy Ezeh:

"Honest 'elephant in the room' question: In your opinion, how much do you think our offensive struggles and lack of a consistent flowing offense stems from Kyler's inability to see over his offensive line? The Rams (who almost own us at this point) always make it a point to keep him in the pocket and there are many plays (including games this year) where looking at a replay, Kyler could've easily picked up a first down by hitting his wide open receivers in the middle of the field. Kyler can't grow overnight so how can we solve this problem?"

I mean, Murray's height makes a difference. He really acknowledged it for the first time himself in training camp. But he didn't get any shorter this year and made it work just fine last year and the year before that. I don't think it's his size that has made the difference this season. That said, yes, he has to be moved around. Yes, running and the threat of him running has to be a part of a successful game plan, in my opinion. But does it cost him? There was a play against the Saints where Hopkins popped open across the middle and Murray either didn't see him or chose not to try it.

From Don Geisler:

"Hi Darren. Is this a crazy thought? I think the Cards' refusal to snap the ball from under center has killed this team. Opposing teams run on 3rd-n-1 and they have to run one yard. When we run on 3rd-n-1, we have to run six yards. Is this a crazy oversimplification? Running from the gun seems to put us at an immediate disadvantage."

I understand your thought process and I personally wish they had more plays set up under center in short yardage situations. But I will say this: Kyler Murray under center is not the running threat he is when in pistol or shotgun. If that's what you want to scare defenses with, it makes sense to me. Kyler is never going to be a QB sneak guy.

From Allie D:

"WOW! Kliff said he would give up playcalling? You know what's funny (because I just googled it) Mike McCoy (Wilks' OC) was fired almost exactly to the day four years ago. The team may be awful but big changes are always entertaining. Let's see what happens. Kudos to you Darren. You're one of those guys who somehow survives multiple regime changes. Why? Because you're the best!"

I appreciate the props but I have "survived" changes because ultimately, I don't have anything to do with the outcome on the football side. I'm just doing my job. As far as Kliff considering the playcalling change -- and this question came in prior to the Saints game -- I think Hop's return mitigates what happens. The offense looked much better against the Saints. If that continues to be the case against the Vikings and especially in a rematch with the Seahawks, I don't think anything will change. He said he would consider it, not that it was decided.

From Chad Gato:

"Love a big win and some big plays on Thursday night snapping three losing streaks! (Thursdays, color rush, and at home.) I know we let up more points than usual, maybe as a result of the big lead, but overall I feel our pass defense is top five in the league. Is this an overreaction from a fan? Aside from taking one on the chin from Patty Mahomes and Andy Reid with a extra prep time, Murphy, Wilson, Hamilton, Baker, and Thompson might just be the best secondary in the NFL."

With all due respect to the pass defense, yes, I think that might be an overreaction. I'd say this -- I, like many, had questions about this defense coming into the season. I, like many, sure look pretty wrong. The secondary has been solid. The whole unit has been. After the best D in the league in the 49ers also had the Chiefs hang 44 on them, even the opener doesn't look quite as bad (although it was still bad.) I still think this defense is good enough to win games if the offense does what it is supposed to do.

Related Content