Yes, it's the slow time of the offseason, and I can tell by the shrinking amount of questions for the mailbag. If you've got one, please send it along. As always, you can get one in for a future mailbag by going here.
From Jeremy Pietrasik:
"Previously with the the preseason the third game was when we saw the starters the most, and the fourth game was almost exclusively backups. Do you know how all of that is going to work now that there is one less preseason game?"
We can't know for sure but I am guessing the third game will still be that "big" game for starters. The schedule hasn't changed, so now teams will have about two weeks before the final preseason game and plenty of time for guys to get healing up from anything minor. That said, it feels like veteran players have been playing less and less in the preseason as time as gone on.
From Gerry Harthun:
"When does training camp open and will fans be allowed in? If so, what COVID-related constraints will be in place?"
The official dates have yet to be announced but it is expected to be in late July. I do expect fans to be allowed to some practices, but what the protocols will be have also yet to be announced. I'd expect to hear something in the next couple of weeks in that regard.
From Trent Lane:
"Hi Darren. I am a little lost about all the Kliff Kingsbury vitriol. The team has clearly improved each year he has been here; statistics, record and eye test back this up. The players seem to like him and his coaching style seems conducive to keeping players happy and engaged. Personally, I hope we keep him the next two decades and that he continues to grow on the trajectory he is on. Do you have any thoughts on this you are willing to share? What is your feeling on this?"
Coaches don't last two decades unless their name is Belichick, so I don't see that happening. In terms of the vitriol, that's the gig. Head coaches in the league deal with that, no matter what. Even the most successful, it only takes one bad call or one bad game to have someone ready to criticize. Kingsbury has made mistakes, ones he's acknowledged, and fans are gonna get upset. Personally, I don't like going through coaching changes because for my job, it's easier to keep going with someone with whom you know how the relationship is built. But I look at this objectively, especially since I have zero control about how this turns out. If Kliff wins, he's not going anywhere. If his team struggles to do that, that eventually leads to change. I've done this too long to be emotional about it, but I get why fans are, even when I disagree.
From Joseph Cammiso:
"My question about Zaven Collins speeding arrest was ignored. It also appears that no one else asked the question or more than likely the question(s) was/were purposely left out. The Cardinals haven't stated anything publicly about the incident. I would like to know why this pretty important development is being ignored by the team's media. It's concerning from a character standpoint for a first-round pick. Even moreso considering how we have crowned this guy as a starter and alienated the incumbent Hicks. Do guys have to flip tires at practice for making bonehead mistakes like that?"
Well Joseph, let's start with the accusation that your question was ignored, which is false. I get enough questions each week, and I have a certain schedule I have in trying to get the mailbag done, that 99 percent of the time, I have found all the questions I am going to answer for the week by the previous Wednesday or Thursday. I had not yet opened either of your emails, thus, not ignored. I did get one other one on the topic that I opened for this week. (And as an aside, I'm cool with questions about anything, but if you want to turn it ranty and insulting, it's probably not going to get picked to get into the mailbag, or I might edit part of the question out. Them's the rules.)
As for the incident itself, we did talk about it in our podcast briefly. It was a dumb decision, of course. If it became a pattern, a major red flag -- but until it does, I won't get too riled up about it. You are welcome to. I don't know if there will be any internal punishment. Not sure, at this point, why you would think it would impact his role or Hicks.
From John Mitchell:
"How come the Cardinals aren't going for a veteran tight end? They should pursue Zach Ertz from the Eagles."
Kliff Kingsbury has said the Cards could very well add a tight end. Whether it is a free agent or in trade, we will see. I don't know how big of a role the tight end will have, so I'm not sure they are going to be spending a bunch of money on one.
From William Wootten:
"Both of the seasons Kyler Murray has played he has limped to the finish line. I feel the Cardinals should do more to help preserve Kyler all the way to the end. If we want to make a postseason run we can't have him so limited heading into the end of the season. Are there things the Cardinals can do that they haven't done to help this, like extra rest days, regiments that can help him through the season, or maybe change the types of plays called to keep from having him on E? I feel Russell Wilson (similar-ish play style to KM) has had quite a healthy career and it makes me wonder if it's just luck or if he is doing something different."
Murray hasn't been tired. He's been hurt. In 2019 it was a sprained ankle, and last year, it was a shoulder and then an ankle. That has nothing to do with rest. It has to do, especially in the ankle cases, of 280-pound men falling the wrong way on a body part. It is obvious they need Kyler healthy to go far. They know that. But he's still gotta play the game -- you can't keep him in a glass case.
From Blaine Pierce:
"How proud should the Bidwill family be with the comments made by the face of the franchise about the Dallas Cowboys. How proud are you?"
You're talking about him taking a shot at a team he does not play for? I'm not sure if you mean it in a positive way or a negative way. Dozens of players have done something similar over the years. I'm not sure how "proud" comes into this -- I heard it, I chuckled. But I didn't think much of it one way or the other, and I'm guessing ownership doesn't either. I sure hope it doesn't bother you or anyone else (unless you're a Cowboys fan, I suppose.) It's not a big deal.
From Frank Owens:
"Did you see the new COVID agreement the NFLPA and league just agreed to? It's wild. I'm curious if this moves the needle at all. Kingsbury is being very hands off with this whole thing. I'd say if the team stays among the lowest vaccinated that puts us at a considerable disadvantage competitively with these new rules. Trying to run the team with these two systems would be chaos. Untenable even. I know it's not Kingsbury's (or Keim's) way, but they might need to draw a line in the sand. Get your shot or get terminated. Maybe even terminate with cause (so you don't gotta pay the contract)?"
There seems to be a lot of confusion with many of you out there in terms of what the team and/or Kingsbury can do about the vaccines. There was another question that praised Bruce Arians and ripped Kliff based on what Bruce said about his guys getting vaccinated -- but just because Arians said he was the expert, why do you think that changed how the players feel about the vaccine? Praising BA without any proof it has mattered seems odd to me.
Let me make this clear: Kingsbury or the team cannot force players to get vaccinated, nor can they imply that a player will lose his job because of it. I understand if you are frustrated that players aren't vaccinated. I too wish all people -- not just players -- would get it. One of the reasons the NFL has put in such stringent rules is to make it an advantage to be vaccinated. But anger with the organization or the coach is misplaced.
From Leon Hersh:
"Hi Darren! Long-time reader, first time writer. Can I be doom and gloom guy for a sec? Rondale Moore. Impressive athlete. The thing that's getting me, and has been since the draft is Rondale had a spectacular freshman year ... three years ago. Hasn't done much since. Best ability is availability. So I keep hearing how our WR position is set and how Rondale is going to be this involved part of our offense, and I just don't know where this confidence is coming from. Also, on Patrick Peterson's podcast he was asked about Fitz's future. And he quipped that if Larry hasn't retired yet, he won't. His prediction is Larry is going to return sometime in-season. That's a take I hadn't heard yet, and coming from Patrick you got to think there's some validity. Thanks!"
Leon, for someone who has been reading a long time I thought you knew doom and gloom is inevitably a big part of the mailbag each week. So you raise a couple of points. With Moore, it is absolutely fair to wonder about Moore staying healthy. The Cardinals did their homework on it and clearly feel like he will be available, because otherwise he won't play. But that can be tough to forecast; second-round pick Troy Niklas was never hurt in his life and then the Cards took him and he was seemingly always hurt. If Moore can do what he is advertised to do, the receivers are in good shape. If he's hurt, yeah, it's a problem.
As for Fitz, unless Patrick is citing Fitz as his source, it feels like a guess to me. Now, obviously you aren't listening to our podcast because we suggested the same thing ourselves (I didn't know about P2 until I read your question.) The problem with an in-season return is, how prepared will he be to play? Is he willing to train on his own just in case? Nothing has changed for me -- I don't know if he says anything but it feels like he's played his last game.
From Duane Wisner:
"Hi Darren, along with your excellent articles and mailbag, I wanted to compliment you on the 'Debate This' on YouTube. I really enjoy it, great information. Thank you for all of your hard work, you do a lot more than I mentioned, I truly appreciate it!"
Not enough doom and gloom, Duane.
From Nathan Kurtz:
"So I've been seeing a lot of hype saying coach is on the chopping block this year if it doesn't go well. First and foremost, I hope this isn't even a discussion at the end of the year and we rock it. However, I ask, why Kliff? Why not our GM who decides to constantly sign players with serious injury histories and most past their prime?"
I don't know what will happen. I'm not sure who you are "hearing," but I know I hear about both coach and GM in that regard plenty. Here's also what I know when it comes to people that say things on both sides for a coach or a GM: if they win, most everyone is fine with them. If they don't win (or don't win enough) plenty of people are willing to say they are terrible and need to be replaced. That's not just the Cardinals, of course. Steve Keim is the same GM who built rosters that got the Cards to the NFC championship and won two divisions a few years ago. He hasn't changed. So we see if they win.
From Robert Malicki:
"As a rule I do not allow myself an opinion one way or another on this alternate jersey-helmet issue. This is because it's a contrived one meant for the purpose of making money or selling a 'brand.' But, if Michael is going to look into it my vote is for a retro look befitting our Cardinals origins as a founding AAFL member. Unlike the Staley-Bears franchise, our fellow surviving founding team. the Cardinals have changed cities, not once, but twice. So, how do you satisfy very old school Chicago fans like me, tweener fans of the St. Louis years and the best fans the team has ever had down in Arizona? Maybe the uniform worn by Ollie Matson, my first favorite Cardinal, Olympian medal winner and HOF triple-threat back, could be the answer? When returning from Comiskey Park games and describing Ollie's exploits, my father talked about the red helmet and jersey combo the players wore. Whether the helmet showed a white 'C' or not I do not know?"
As always, uniform suggestions are noted. At least by me.
From Aaron Seman:
"Is Larry Fitzgerald coming back in 2021?"
I wish I knew, Aaron, I wish I knew.
If you see him, tell him to announce something, if you could. Thanks.