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Steve Keim (left) and Bruce Arians watch practice. (Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
listen Listen: Steve Keim, AZ Cardinals GM
Steve shares his thoughts about the NFC West.

Steve Keim is very pleased to have been named the Executive of the Year by ProFootballTalk.

"It really says a lot about the people that I've surrounded myself with," he told Doug and Wolf Thursday morning.

Indeed, Keim did an excellent job surrounding himself with the right people, both off the field and on it. He made a total of 193 roster moves in his first season as the team's general manager, and by the time the season ended, more than half the players on the 53-man roster were new to the team in 2013.

It led to a 10-win season, but now the trick is doing even better in 2014, and having been able to play both NFC Championship Game teams twice gives Keim and his staff not only a bit of a headache, but a chance to see where the Cardinals must improve if they hope to get to that level.

The Cardinals went a combined 1-3 against the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, with the lone win coming in Seattle in Week 16.

"It's a great litmus test because obviously most people around the league regard both those teams as the best in the NFL, and when you have a chance to go toe-to-toe and see these people live against your football team, you understand where your limitations are, where you need to improve," he said. "And I think we're always going to try to get better up front, both offensively and defensively."

Keim added that the defensive line could use more depth whereas the offensive line could afford to become more physical. Improve those areas, and the Cardinals will be even closer to being where the 49ers and Seahawks are now, though he noted those teams will have some decisions to make when their cheap quarterbacks require new, expensive contracts.

Until then, the Cardinals will just have to deal with the fact that they reside in the NFL's toughest division, which is something the now second-year GM is fine with.

"I think that as a competitor it's what you want," he said. "You want to play against the best. When you have success you want to be able to say you did it against the premier teams in the NFL and it's a challenge.

"Every day when you wake up, you realize you better be on your A-game because the decisions you're making ultimately affect your football team and for the long haul. We're trying to establish sustainable success here, not just a one or two-year flash in the pan."

Adam Green, Web Content Editor - ArizonaSports.com

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