Sun, 27 Sep 2020

You've Got Mail: WFT Week

Arizona Cardinals
16 Sep 2020, 05:03 GMT+10

Topics include snap counts, contract extensions and Isaiah Simmons Darren Urban

The Cardinals came up with a huge victory Sunday against the 49ers, an impressive win considering they had a slow start. Now the Cardinals get their home opener at State Farm Stadium, and now we have another mailbag. I do have one request going forward -- please provide at least a first name and a city from which you are sending your query. Some of the pseudonyms being used just aren't gonna work, and even if it's a good question, I'm not going to bother. As always, you can send in a question by going here.

From Raine Voigts via azcardinals.com:

"Andy Isabella? Does he not exist to the Cardinals? He has blazing speed that we could use as a deep threat. We could use him on WR screens. We could use him on WR running plays. Instead we hide him on the sidelines. Also why was the play calling so conservative on Sunday?"

Isabella was in for 14 snaps. He did not get the ball, but that doesn't totally surprise given all the other weapons the Cards can use. I do think there will be a little more Isabella this season, but how much is TBD. As far as conservative, I mean, if you add in the plays that were passes but Kyler scrambled, they dropped back about 50 times. They didn't go down the field a ton, and I expect that to change over time, but they had 24 points (and two missed field goals) and more than 400 yards. It wasn't a bad day.

From Mikey Sansett via azcardinals.com.

"Hey Darren, we just saw Budda Baker and now DeAndre Hopkins receive big contract extensions, but we have other high-profile players with contracts to address as well. Who do you think is more deserving of a contract extension: Chandler Jones or Patrick Peterson?"

More deserving? That's not how it works, Mikey. I thought Peterson summed it up the best when he noted that contracts are all about timing. Hopkins got a deal he normally wouldn't have -- with three years already remaining -- because of the trade and the understanding when he was dealt that one was needed. Jones still has two years left and under the circumstances, I would be a little surprised if they did one early, unless Jones is willing to make some concessions. Peterson is obviously going to be a free agent, but there is also a franchise tag available. Honestly, given their careers, they both deserve one. But this league often isn't about deserve, but that crucial timing. We'll have to see how that plays out.

From Sansa Gulo via azcardinals.com:

"Hi Darren. Kirkpatrick only played 20 snaps? I thought he was the No. 2 CB? Can you enlighten on this? We all saw Mason Cole go down, hopefully he's OK, but if Gaillard were the center the rest of the way, who is the backup? This is what I was worried about when we let Shipley go. Dan Arnold's 45 snaps implies they want to get him involved more. Simmons only had 18 snaps, in which two were touchdowns and one was a horsecollar. Yikes. And Kennard's 34 snaps is interesting because I thought he was suppose to be the No. 2 pass rusher. One would expect his snap count to be comparable to Chandler's 55?"

Let me try and quick-hit these:

Kirkpatrick is the No. 2 when they are in nickel, but when there are only two cornerbacks on the field, Byron Murphy is getting those snaps. It does not surprise me they want Murphy on the field. If Cole is sidelined, I'd expect Max Garcia to be Gaillard's backup. Yes, I think they'd like to involve Arnold more. Simmons has a learning curve. That should not surprise anyone; Vance Joseph has basically been saying it all camp. Kennard is the No. 2 pass rusher, he had the second-most snaps out there, after Jones. But Haason Reddick clearly has impressed enough to earn some playing time, and Simmons was getting a little work there too.

From Rudy Gebeo via azcardinals.com:

"Hi Darren, Isaiah Simmons' debut could not have been worse. You gotta feel bad for him. But it prompts an important question - did we make a mistake? Not in the player. In the position. I've felt strongly from the start that moving guys around to new positions is forever a bad idea. The biggest issue with learning the ILB position, as said by Ron Wolfley on the radio, is that things happen way faster in the box. Simmons is highly intellectual and so there's a growing belief that he's just a terrible fit for that position. I think we spoke about this before, but it needs to be discussed again because we spent the No. 8 pick on Simmons and he MUST succeed."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I know this is called "overreaction Monday" for a reason (the day you sent this in,) but, c'mon man. First -- "there's a growing belief ..." Where? In your household? Second, you talk about Simmons moving positions. That's literally all he did in college. He's played there at least some. Does he need to succeed? Yes. Was his debut not great? Fair to say. How about you let him play more than one NFL game? I get that everyone feels burned with what they tried to do with Haason Reddick. I'm not sure how you praise Simmons' intelligence and then say he's already out of his depth -- with no offseason and no preseason games. That was literally the first NFL game Simmons appeared in. Simmons got burned on an angle route that burned Chandler Jones the year before. I don't see people saying Jones is a terrible fit. If this is how Simmons plays all season -- and I am betting it will not be -- then, yeah, they'll have to find a different spot. But man, your leash is way too short.

From Steve Drumm via azcardinals.com:

"Hey Darren, I was a little surprised that Hakeem Butler was cut. I read Kingsbury's remarks that both Butler and the team came to the conclusion that a fresh start was needed, which sounded like code for Butler was unhappy with the decision and not interested in joining the Cards practice squad either, for whatever reason. Did you get the same feeling?"

No code. I think it was a nice way of saying the Cardinals were ready to move on. I don't know why Butler wouldn't want to be on the practice squad. That would've been cutting his nose to spite his face. The Cards had three other receivers they wanted on the PS. I do think Butler needed to try it elsewhere, and I hope he gets that chance.

From Joe Cardea via azcardinals.com:

"Darren, back in 2018 and other years past, there was a crew of commenters who always were down on the Cards. I won't name names. One in particular was quite knowledgeable but I miss them. I was hoping to hear their take when we had a little success and the trend line was up. Do you hear from them? Do you miss them? OK, JTDG and ClssyLssy."

To be fair, there was plenty to be down on in 2018. JTDG is still around. He posts from time to time.

From Dan I via azcardinals.com:

"What did you make of our offensive strategy early in the game? All of this behind-the-LOS passing. Very timid. For all of the big hype videos about our electric offense that the team puts out, I'd say our offense was the least electric of any team I watched this weekend. Furthermore it seemed like anytime a wide receiver caught a ball, he was facing Kyler. Come back routes. Nothing over the shoulder or in stride or over the middle. Take away Kyler's long runs, and that was practically Marty Ball out there. I really hope that isn't our offense going forward. We won't beat anyone."

I guess I'm surprised with the amount of people down on a team that gained more than 400 yards and scored 24 points. There was rust. They weren't sharp early. Kingsbury said the 49ers played a lot of two-high safeties, impacting the deep game. You say, "take away Kyler's long runs" except you don't take them away. Take away Russell Wilson's four touchdown passes, and the Seahawks lose, right?

"Hey Darren, what happened with Jalen Thompson? I noticed he only played two snaps and Chris Banjo came in. Charles Washington also got some snaps. So in addition to Jalen, what happened with Deionte Thompson? Is he really that deep in the dog house that he's fourth string?"

Thompson hurt his ankle. Washington was active because of special teams, which ranks him ahead of Thompson. And just because a guy is lower on the depth chart doesn't mean he is in the dog house. He's not good enough to be ahead of Banjo (who is also good on special teams.) If Jalen is down for a spell, I'm guessing you'll see Deionte.

From Gary Gammiero via azcardinals.com:

"Hi Darren, my wife thinks the Cardinals changed their helmets to a flat white instead of glossy white. Is that true? I remember one Thursday night game the Cardinals had helmets where the white looked kind of like a pearl color."

I checked, Gary. The helmets are the same.

From Steve Frazier via azcardinals.com:

"As a reborn Cardinals fan from St. Louis, what has the Arizona organization done to connect the dots to the team's former home?"

The organization still reaches out to alumni, and obviously there are members in the Ring of Honor from those years -- Jim Hart just went in a couple years ago. And I know Michael Bidwill still makes some charitable contributions in his former hometown.

From Rudy Runlo via azcardinals.com:

"Hey Darren, I don't know if you've noticed, but we have an odd defensive line. Apparently our DL philosophy matches the one I had when I was 15 playing Madden. 'Biggest guys possible!' With the release of Dogbe and the addition of Blackson, we now have 4 players on the DL who are: 6'6 340 - Jordan, 6'5 330 - Leki, 6'4 320 - Angelo, 6'3 335 - Corey. That's a gargantuan group. And I mean it's unusually big. Without any research, I would go as far to say we have the largest collective DL in the NFL (I may actually go look at every other roster because I think this is true. There's not that many 330-pound guys on earth, and we have four of them. I'll report back next week). And I'm actually very fascinated at what the goal is. Are we trying to build run D wall?"

Well, you're always trying to have a wall on the defensive line. I'd be curious if (assuming you do the work) there are not other teams like this. Ultimately, much of the time the Cards have two defensive linemen and have Chandler Jones and Devon Kennard as basically defensive ends, so these guys are your defensive tackles. Also, Phillips is supposed to be able the penetrate. That's why he got the big bucks.

From Blaine from Canada via azcardinals.com:

"Hey Darren. Long-term Cards (and mailbag) fan from Alberta. Thanks for the Q&A forum. I have heard a lot of talk about Dan Arnold being a sleeper and could surprise many this year with his performance. On the flip side I haven't heard much about Maxx Williams. What do you expect out of Arnold and the TE usage this year. Thanks again. Have a great season!"

I do think they would like to involve Arnold more in the passing game. But Williams is important as a dual blocking/catching threat. He's not going away. I still think people expecting some kind of Gronk-like tight end production aren't being realistic. But between the two, I do think Kingsbury hopes there is something more substantial.

From Reggie Holland via azcardinals.com:

"Question regarding Hop's new deal. First of all it's a great deal for us in terms of average. He's 'only' making $18.8M per. Compared to Julio's $22M per, that's a deal for the No. 1 or No. 2 best WR in the NFL. My only 'concern' is that it seems we didn't protect ourselves much. No trade. No tag. No injury clauses. Just 'Here's everything you want.' Which kinda feels like what we did with Tyrann. I'm just a little worried about that aspect."

I'm confused how that is parallel with Tyrann. The Cardinals actually had the kind of deal with Mathieu they wanted -- one they could get out of if he got injured, which he did, and then they did. With Hopkins, you can make the argument they gave everything to Hopkins. But they knew what they were getting with the contract situation. There was a reason the Texans wanted to move on, and the contract was a big reason why.

From Danny Jimenez via azcardinals.com:

"Is it possible to ask fans on social media if they would refer to Larry Fitzgerald as 'Mr. Arizona' in professional sports?"

It is possible. I don't know how many people will listen to you. I'll be honest, it doesn't seem specific enough. Although I think Larry would like it better than Japanese Fighting Fish.

From Cynthia Lee from azcardinals.com:

"I imagine my question is the same as everyone else's: When are tickets going on sale? I had previously purchased tickets and they were refunded. Now I keep looking for them to go back on sale in a COVID-19 friendly manner because I don't want to miss the game I go to every year."

Until the Cardinals decide it's safe to have fans at games, there won't be any tickets for sale. We know the first two games are fan-less. Trust me, you'll know when they go on sale. And remember, if and when they do go on sale, it's likely not to be a full stadium, so there will be only so many tickets to go around.

From Tony LaVella via azcardinals.com:

"Hey Darren. Just had to ask after looking at the photo gallery of the players heading to SF. Isaiah Simmons with the big bag of Popeye's? Made me laugh. Can you ask him the details on that? Afraid they're not gonna feed him on the trip? Endorsement? Snack or rookie assignment from the vets?"

Ha. It's what rookies do. They often have to buy lunch at a favorite place -- in this case, Popeye's -- as the team leaves on a road trip for his position group. In years past, I have felt bad for rookies at certain positions, like an offensive lineman, which not only have huge dudes but a lot of them. They've had to bring a ton of food along.

From Robert Rhodes via azcardinals.com:

"I have been a huge fan of the Cardinals since they was in St. Louis. Is there a chance that they can slip into the playoffs and who knows maybe win the Super Bowl?

If they can get 400 yards a week, there's a chance. And yeah -- who knows? Who knows.

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