Topics include what's best for the final stretch, what's a franchise QB, and Collins' developmentDarren Urban
The bye week is over, and the Cardinals return on "Monday Night Football" next week against the Patriots. With a slight change in schedule -- the first interviews of the week coming Tuesday rather than Monday -- we are flipping this week's mailbag to Monday. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.
From Kathy Reid:
"I'm not going to ask about tanking because I already know your answer, but I will ask if you would you rather see us limp through the season barely beating these mediocre teams on our schedule and pick up a win against the 49ers without their starters, acquiring a 'winning record,' or see a top five pick in the draft. And yes to clarify, in this hypothetical situation we don't play particularly better to show improvement, we win because we play four bad teams, a squad of backups, and have some luck."
This really feels like, "I'm not going ask you about tanking, but how do you feel about tanking?" OK, maybe more, "doesn't tanking just make sense?" Look, I'm not a big "would rather see" guy because I a) have no control and b) am going to cover this team regardless. Especially when you aren't seeking a QB, does it really matter if you are picking 6 or 12? I'm not sure what people are expecting either -- are you hoping that what, the players quit? Because that's the other funny thing here. Fans are apocalyptic (understandably) if players quit on the team, yet we get to these end-season scenarios when it feels like so many fans are actually rooting for players to quit.
From Larry DeAngelis:
"I have had the pleasure to read your mailbag over the years and I notice that you often refer to Kyler Murray as a franchise quarterback. My question is what criteria do you use to make that statement? I have to respectfully disagree and feel that he is not accomplished enough to be given that title and in fact, his caliber of play does not compare with Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert to name a few."
Interesting that you include Herbert because what has Herbert done that Kyler has not? Obviously Allen and Burrow get the nod. But you are entitled to your opinion. All good. I disagree with you. I have watched Kyler since he showed up. I think he is one, and he's getting paid as one. Does that mean he can't improve? I'm not saying that. But again, if there are actual stats you have to reach, let me know. You're going to eliminate a lot of guys who may be considered such if you actually put up specific numbers. Finally, being a "franchise QB" can be fluid. Peyton Manning was not that guy his final year, for example.
From Garth Short:
"A few months back, Kliff said that he would consider having someone else call the plays. Is he still considering that, or, because no seems to be asking that question lately, he decided to stay with the status quo. Still think it would help him as a head coach."
The most recent point when Kingsbury was asked about it, he made clear that was no longer being considered.
From Richard Kemmler:
"He may not be there yet, but has anyone improved more this season than Zaven Collins? I really like his skill set and he seems more consistent game to game. Plus his athleticism looks like it's flowing better now that it seems like he's not overthinking on the field and just playing."
Collins has taking a large step forward this season, and it was needed. He has been steady and has earned Vance Joseph's trust (as he's playing every snap every week.) It's nice to see he and Isaiah Simmons having some success (although Simmons still has some boom-or-bust feel to his performances). I understand the reaction to the overall drafts the Cardinals have had over the years, but Collins seems to be trending as a successful pick.
From Lee Wienmeyer:
"Why do we spend high draft picks on greener-than-grass projects like Trey McBride? We get it. He's learning. But my question is learning what? It's football. Same sport he's always played and supposedly excelled at his whole life. We're always told how our scouting department spends months and millions of dollars on these decisions. How is it possible they drafted a guy as lost as McBride? Maybe Kliff isn't putting McBride in winning situations. Which is it?"
I'll let you in on a secret Lee. Most draft picks are green. Are there guys who excel from jump? Sure. Many, many more of them do not. Here's another secret: You don't know how these guys are gonna react to playing in the NFL until they actually play in the NFL. I don't know how McBride is going to develop. I am, however, going to give him some time to develop. I'm sorry you don't want to. P.S. If you think playing in the NFL is the same as playing in high school and college, man, do we need to talk.
From Don Brunner:
"When did the Cards move to Arizona and how many times have they made the playoffs since then?"
I find it odd someone sends in a question that could be found on Google pretty much as quickly as it would take to send the question in (and you wouldn't have had to wait for the answer), but as long as we're here: The Cardinals moved to Arizona for the 1988 season. They have made the playoffs in the seasons of 1998, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2021.
From Dirk Sonive:
"OK Darren. I have watched the league for quite sometime now and why does it seem in a consistent basis you have the same teams at the bottom of the barrel, the same at the middle, and the same at the top? Like the Browns, Lions, and I will throw the Cardinals in that mix. We may have some good years but majority of the time we are just the Cardinals. Is it the owners, or the people they hire?"
I don't think it's that simple. The Cardinals, for instance, have been around the top of the league (or the middle) as much as the bottom of the league since they got their new stadium in 2006. The Browns have had four different controlling owners since 1990. Stability matters as does the QB -- the Patriots have been mediocre since Tom Brady left. The Bucs went from struggling to good when Brady showed up. The Colts have been really good -- until their run with Peyton and Andrew Luck ended. The Packers were terrible until Favre and Rodgers showed up. We will see what the Steelers do as they get further away from Big Ben.
From Drew Hancock:
"Hi Darren. Thanks for your coverage and podcasts this year. What do you see as the Cardinals biggest need in the draft? Center or edge rusher? Or another position? Hoping the Cardinals can finish strong."
They need a center. They need an edge rusher. I would like to see another guard, and they could use help on the defensive line. And cornerback, probably.
From John McGill:
"Hello Darren. What is the status on Rondale Moore? Is he close to returning?"
We will see this week. The fact the Cardinals put Andre Baccellia back on the practice squad tells me Moore -- or Greg Dortch, or both -- could be ready for the Patriots.
From Roger Pederson:
"Shouldn't management be considering trading Kyler Murray if he doesn't start getting the ball out of his hands sooner for numerous players and draft picks to make the team more competitive?"
If Kyler can get the ball out of his hands sooner for numerous players that helps, but I'm not sure how he could do it sooner to get it to draft picks.
Also, to trade Murray would be a $60 million cap hit for 2023. And you'd have no quarterback.
From Joe Williamson:
"I have been a diehard Cardinal fan since 1959 when I saw them play in Chicago. I have coached the game since the early 1970s at every level. Do you think blocking and tackling is more important or being able to just wing it and hope. Do you think this team is very undisciplined?"
Joe, this feels like a loaded question. Are you really asking, or are you disguising your contempt in the form of a question so I'll use it? (Don't answer that.) I'm not seeing the parallel between "blocking and tackling" and "wing it and hope." Sure, blocking and tackling are important. What are they "winging?"
From Marty Buckles:
"Hey Darren. Does this Hard Knocks season seem thin to you? Obviously there is a lot going on. As far as Hard Knocks goes, they aren't touching on anything. Didn't show the Eno situation. Glossing over Kugler (slightly different because legal is involved). I appreciate their hard work, but man, this season is kind of crummy. A little boring to be honest. There's no real meat on the bone. Have we seen anything of real substance? Not really. Personal home stories about players lives are cute and all but those aren't football. There's other seasons of 'Hard Knocks' where we see a player get cut on the spot, or a player ask his coach for a trade, or the moment a GM breaks the news a guys been traded, and we see his real-time reaction. THAT is why people watch 'Hard Knocks.' "
Those "other" seasons of 'Hard Knocks' are all from training camp, when there are a lot more guys to cut and much more importantly, are not in-season. (I'd argue that most of the stuff you see in the preseason ones aren't real substance either because we are talking about fringe players usually.) People can believe what they want but my understanding is that there was no direct footage of the Eno stuff. Since no one really talked to the media about it, there wasn't much of a storyline. One of the reasons Bruce Arians always fought against HK in camp was because he didn't want to show guys getting cut. I don't think anyone is excited to turn these guys into grist for TV. I understand your point, but I think after four episodes, we know what it's going to be.
From Adam Oswald:
"Thank goodness for Suns basketball eh? Gotta 'what-if' for you. Would you trade for LeBron at midseason? I know we can't, this is rhetorical. Likely cost would be Ayton and Bridges and picks. But we'd have Book, CP3 and Bron (plus the rest of our current roster). Would you do it?"
I would not. As great as Bron still is, I don't want to add guys who tend to get injured at this point in their career.