Tue, 25 Jan 2022

You've Got Mail: Rams Week, Part Two

Arizona Cardinals
08 Dec 2021, 18:03 GMT+10

Topics include Kyler aging, keeping Vance Joseph, and lack of SNF Darren Urban

Now the Cardinals have reached double-digits for wins with their NFC West Monday night showdown with the Rams next. So far, so good. As for the mailbag, it's always good. Send along a query for a future mailbag here.

From Obi Juan Kenobi:

"Do you think there should be a second bye week with the current 17-game season (not counting playoffs)? On one hand, clearly it's a long year. Guys get beat up. The bye week isn't miraculous but it certainly helps with health. A second would be beneficial. On the flip side, it's one week taken from your offseason for both the players, and you, Darren. So what would your vote be?"

Hold on a minute while I chuckle that it would take a week from my offseason personally. There is no offseason for me, only vacation time and let me be clear -- my vacation time is nowhere near as long as the players. Do I think players would take an extra bye? Yes. But you start running into calendar issues with the expanded playoffs and when the Super Bowl is, etc. I don't know if we'll see an extra bye with 17 games. I think you'd have to have one with 18 games.

From Chad Johnson:

"As a Cardinals fan living in Washington, watching the Seahawks get pummeled has been glorious to watch. But at the same time, seeing Russell Wilson's play since coming back from injury has been shocking. Wilson has relied on his mobility (scrambling or escaping sacks) for most of his career, and with that apparently disappearing his ability to cover his teams flaws is disappearing as well. I've always looked at Murray as more of a passer than a scrambler, only running when needed or on a designed play, but do you think it is possible for mobile QBs to change their style of play to be a pocket passer when their mobility is slowed down?"

I don't think Wilson's mobility has changed a ton. I think a) his finger injury caused him all kinds of problems with his early return and b) that team isn't nearly as good as it used to be. I do think Murray can become more of a passer as he ages, but those are steps he's already taking. The question will be if he is able to escape some of the things he does in five or six years. I am going to say yes.

From Gil Condor:

"What is the status of Trace McSorley?"

He's on the 53-man roster, he's the third quarterback, and he was inactive Sunday.

From Van Luck:

"What's going on with the long-snapping snap issues? Had several bad ones that led to missed missed field goals two weeks ago and now vs the Bears we have a bad snap that forced Matt Prater to scoop it up and toss it. What's going on?"

The weather was bad in Chicago. Beau Brinkley has stepped in for the injured Aaron Brewer, and that hasn't been completely smooth, although we don't know exactly what happened in Seattle -- could've been any one of the three involved, or/and it could have been the weather. All three kicks were missed at the same (wind swirling) end of the field.

From Steve Zukowski:

"If we can stay reasonably healthy going in to the playoffs, I am confident that we have as good a shot as anyone to win our first Super Bowl. But my concern is going into next year. If we lose Vance Joseph, he will probably take part of the staff with him and we will likely take a step backwards. We need to make him one of the highest (if not THE highest) paid defensive coordinators in the league to keep this staff in place."

I think you need to slow down a bit. The idea that there should be panic about what happens next year when this team has yet to clinch a playoff spot seems a little cart/horse. I agree Vance has done an excellent job. I'm not sure what his contract status is. I do know that if he leaves for a head coaching job, he's not gonna stay because of a paycheck -- getting head coaching jobs are difficult to pass up. I hope this team makes a Super Bowl run. Having to pay coaches and players when that happens is a happy by-product.

From Robert Malicki:

"Hi, Darren. As a member of the media who's working for the Cardinals your perspective on in-season head coaching changes is different. How do you see this issue of Oklahoma 'targeting' Kliff Kingsbury for their hire? Fans are used to NFL owners firing their HC in-season but a HC being involved with a college HC search in quite another issue. The media is expert in 'stirring the pot' to see what rises to the surface and however Kliff responds to questioning, the media will pursue the opposite. He could be caught in a no-win position."

Obviously this is over now, with Oklahoma filling the job. And make no mistake -- while Adam Schefter was willing to put the rumor out there, this wasn't a media creation. Someone wanted it in the public. Once it's out there, it's malfeasance not to ask Kingsbury about it.

From Rodley St. Remy:

"Hello Darren. Questions for you. First, what keeps Kingsbury from leaving pro to go back to college? Second, do you think Kyler plays a role in his decision? Thirdly, I know it's a bit early but can the Cardinals afford both a Kingsbury and a Kyler Murray extension? Lastly, do you believe Kingsbury goes after the money and Murray has his way and picks his next coach if not, leaves to go play pro ball in the diamond?"

Obviously, this is a moot point, but while you can always money-whip pretty much anyone in any line of work, I think Kingsbury has made it pretty clear there are a lot of things he prefers about the pro game, from the football-only part, to not having to worry about kids going to class, not having to worry about recruiting. And of course they can afford both extensions. It's not like a coach counts on the salary cap. (Bonus answer, even though it's moot -- Kyler is one of the best QBs in the NFL. Why would he try to restart his career in baseball.)

From Ben Locke:

"By your estimation, when does a player achieve the oft-sought weekly designation of 'NIR-Rest?' Is that an age thing, or a talent thing? Assuming the player wants it, of course. A.J. Green has both the age, talent and credentials to get that extra day off, but he never utilizes it. Obviously he likes his practice reps. But there's other guys who do. I for one would be. You better believe If I'm 29-30, and I got three or four Pro Bowls under my belt, you won't never see me practicing on a Wednesday."

It depends. The player has some say, so too do the strength and conditioning staff, which digitally measures all the work each player does each week. But a lot of the time, the same motor that drove a player to be good enough to make three Pro Bowls is the same one that wants them to keep practicing. There is no set formula.

From Jordan Peters:

"Hi Darren. I enjoy your live tweeting during the games. I know we have three planned prime time games this year. (TNF, MNF, CHRISTMAS) but do you find it strange we do not have any Sunday night games this year? Thanks."

I don't know if I'd call it strange. When the schedule was set the Cardinals were a team of unknowns that collapsed down the stretch last season. In hindsight it looks foolish, but even with the national lack of coverage you can see as this season plays out, the Cardinals don't always move the needle. The one chance I could see to have one is if they flex that game in Dallas on Jan. 2, which for now is the fading Vikings at the Packers. Or if there is one in the playoffs, of course.

From Jarius Mets:

"General thoughts on Marco Wilson? Given the guy is a true rookie, the fact he's holding down the starting No. 2 CB job (or is it No. 3?) on the league leading 10-2 team is as impressive as you can ask for."

Other than being "as impressive as you can ask for" -- I mean, I'd ask for a Pro Bowl season as a rookie, if someone is asking me -- I agree with you. Wilson is still learning, as rookies do. But at this point in his career, he has not been a weak link, and yes, I think the Cardinals would take that for an inexperienced guy as your No. 2 CB. He'll only get better.

From Mile Kurry:

"Hi Darren! In your opinion, which Cardinals game this year was the best coached? And in your years covering the Cardinals, which coach has had the greatest direct impact on Cardinals wins? Thanks for the mailbag!"

Off the top of my head, the two that come to mind are the opener at Tennessee and the first Rams game. Offensively, I loved how Kliff seemed to push all the right buttons in both games -- especially in the Rams game down the stretch when they turned to the run. And defensively, how can you argue with how Vance Joseph shut down Derrick Henry and then shut down a potent Rams offense, especially at that point. As for the coach with the greatest impact? That's so hard to tell. The best coaches lean on others and make it a team thing. If I had to pick one, I'd say B.A., because he was calling plays and his personality couldn't help but seep into the team.

From Thomas Krepelka:

"I'm asking this in advance of the Bears game: Coach Kingsbury made an off-handed comment about the bye week coming at a good time specifically for Rodney Hudson. While I believe his addition to the line is a major reason for K1's success in the pocket this season, what do you know about Hudson's injury, its contribution to some very ugly shotgun snaps, and was the bye week enough time for (not stated) injury to heal? You do a great job here, thanks."

Hudson isn't listed with any injuries now, so my guess is Kingsbury referring to the normal way an offensive lineman (or any player, to be honest) would get beat up this deep into the season. But unless it's on the report, we're not going to know specifics. Felt like, attributing for the weather, Hudson's snaps were fine on Sunday.

from Matt B:

"The Cardinals are 10-2, Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in America, we have an exciting young quarterback, big-name stars, a coach with name ID. Help me understand why as of writing this on Sunday night, both the NFL website and ESPN NFL page don't have a single mention of the Cardinals. If the Chiefs or Raiders or Rams just extended their road winning streak of 10 point wins to seven, sports media would be planning the parade. I mean heck, they threw a parade for the Rams signing an over-the-hill and injured OBJ."

Obviously that's a question for NFL media and ESPN, I don't make those decisions. I understand the fans' frustrations. But those sites want traffic, and if their research says, for instance, the Browns playing crappy is going to get more clicks than the Cardinals. that's probably what they are going to do. This isn't about earning anything -- earning has nothing to do with it.

From Chad Johnson:

"In a previous mailbag, you wrote, 'Brinkley being cut from the active roster is semantics; he is back on the practice squad and can easily be elevated on Sundays.' I imagine getting cut to be a very dramatic event, getting a note in your locker, going to visit the GM, clearing out your locker, handing in the playbook, access to the building revoked, saying goodbye to all the teammates, etc. But in some cases, does the player not see much of a change from the normal day-to-day in a situation like this? Barring the unlikely event they get picked up on waivers things would change, but basically the player's work week would be normal and all the cutting, resigning, practice squad stuff is just handled in the admin office?"

This is correct. For starters, I'm sure Brinkley knew from the time he arrived Aaron Brewer would be back sooner rather than later, so his time is limited from jump (and he wasn't even the first choice to replace Brewer, so he's second one in.) But when they cut him, yes, it's basically nothing changing. He knows no one is going to claim him. He just waits for the green light to come back in the building.

From Steven Stardevant:

"Mr. Urban, perhaps you could enlighten us unschooled fans about how and when the football is hiked to start a play. Back in the day, our quarterback would call a play and state that the ball would be hiked on three. 'Hut one, hut two, hut three' and the ball would be hiked. (Is it still referred to as 'hiking the ball?') Obviously, football is much more sophisticated than in the days of single, helmet cross bars but how does the offensive line know when to jump in synchronicity at the snap, especially if it is a silent count?"

Most people refer to it as snapping the ball. The usual way is for the quarterback to cue the snap on his cadence, which maybe was "hut one, etc" back in the day but now we have all kinds of signals to go, which is explained before the play in the huddle. As for the silent count, it's pretty straight forward. The rest of the offense has to watch the ball. A guard makes sure the QB is ready, he taps the center, the center raises his head and then it's go time. That's why the silent count can be good and bad; it offsets a loud crowd, but the offense is on the same level as the defense in terms of just watching the ball move to make that first move.

From Mike Mason:

"I know we occasionally see creative plays where we utilize defensive lineman as running backs in short yardage situations, but to your knowledge, have you ever seen an offensive lineman get put in on the defensive line to stop a short yardage situation? I get the impression Rodney Hudson would be really good to plug in at DT if we needed a one-yard stop. Replace Zach Allen (who's a little light in the pants). But to my memory I've never seen this, so there might be good reason for it. Maybe OL just don't have the ability to play as DL?"

I have never considered such a thing, other than to say usually a team has plenty of defensive linemen in that scenario. If Allen is too light (which I don't agree, tbh) he shouldn't be on the team in the first place. Not as a defensive lineman, anyway.

From James Webb:

"Thrilled with the W, but I think it's fair to say the Cardinals have a run D problem. Between GB and Chicago, we knew these teams had one offensive option vs us, and that was the run. We couldn't stop GB. And truth be told, we couldn't stop CHI either. Don't let the final scorecard fool you, the Bears stopped running because they were out of time. Our pass D is phenomenal. No question about it. But I think it's fair at this point to worry about the run D. I'm already looking ahead at the Colts game and Jonathan Taylor and it might be ugly. Not to mention the playoffs."

Man, I kept waiting and waiting for a question and it never came. If this is you thrilled I shudder to think what you're like after a loss. The Bears ran for 112 yards. Great? No. Bad? No. These things don't happen in a vacuum, and yet this is the prism through which you choose to view it. "Ran out of time?" So we're saying if the game is, say 300 minutes instead of 60, the Bears would've had more than 112 yards? Sure, that's correct. But the whole time thing is part of the equation. I'm willing to go out on a limb and say the Cardinals will be favored against the Colts and I'm guessing they'll look good in that game. If Jonathan Taylor has a good game, I mean, he's a good player. Why wouldn't he? If the Cardinals win, it doesn't matter.

From Chad Johnson:

"Is it purely a coincidence that some vets are not on the roster at the same time the Cardinals are having a great year? Or is it is an 'addition by subtraction' sort of deal whereas if, say, Peterson did re-sign we wouldn't have seen the rise in Murphy or Wilson wouldn't get to play or defensive scheme would be different, etc? His absence has given space for multiple others to elevate their game? Correlation and/or causation?"

I think that's a fair assessment of the situation.

From Ben Jolin:

"Hey Darren, do you ever miss the newspaper life? The likely eventual demise of print news notwithstanding, just the gig itself. I'm sure you're happy doing what you do now, but did the traveling journalist gig have its own charms or are you happy to be free of it?"

The job I do now and the job I'd have to do if I was still in newspapers actually isn't that different -- I still travel, for instance, although it is way easier to fly with the team than battle airports on my own -- but there are times here and there when I miss the "charms" of that life. Mostly though, I'm thrilled to be where I am at and know how fortunate I am. I have many, many journalist friends who have had a harder time finding a new spot. Or are having a hard time living the journalist's life as presently constructed

From Tom Cowley:.

"Hi Darren. Do you see any of our walking wounded returning from the IR in time for LA? Is our No. 1 pick ready for prime time? Seems like he was set to go then was shelved. Amazed that Alford is so limited in snaps -- problem? Thanks."

I think Lawrence should be back, and maybe Edmonds. Zaven Collins has definitely taken a step back and lost playing time. But with the team playing so well, that's not going to change anytime soon. And I don't see Alford snaps being limited, other than if the Cardinals use more two-CB defenses. He's not losing snaps to another cornerback.

From Jacky Edler:

"Now that we have the playoffs locked up, wouldn't you say now is the time for Larry Fitzgerald to come back, if that was the plan? However, if I can provide a breaking news scoop: Larry isn't in football shape. I saw him a week ago at the Suns game, he's in good shape, but noticeably not pro athlete shape anymore. He hasn't announced anything, but at this point, c'mon."

I have my own breaking scoop: I never once thought Fitz was coming back. Not the way he's wired. Once training camp came and went, I felt certain he was done. Again, would love for him to say something, but alas, no.

From Quint Boastswain:

"For the record, did we ever actually find out what Derek Anderson and Deuce Lutui were laughing about?"

Leave it to Kent Somers, the guy who was at the middle of the post-game battle with Anderson, to figure it out. Deuce had just cracked a joke about a guy constantly heckling Anderson.

From Not Mad Just Disappointed:

"Not one single 'Baker Has Bun in the Oven' pun. You're better than that, Darren."

Ahhh. Life is full of missed opportunities, I suppose.

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