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Keim Time: Cardinals failed to improve on offseason goals in loss to Lions

LISTEN: Steve Keim, Cardinals GM

Turnovers, blown opportunities and another (relatively) minor special teams snafu.

The Arizona Cardinals’ season-opening road loss to the Detroit Lions raised more than a few concerns, and general manager Steve Keim is quite aware of all of them after going over film.

Keim joins Doug and Wolf on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station every Monday morning during the season. On this day, he reviewed what went wrong in the team’s 35-23 loss, discussed a few positive observations, and addressed key injuries to running back David Johnson and left tackle D.J. Humphries.

It’s Keim Time.

What did you see when you saw the film of the Cardinals’ loss in Detroit?

Well, going into the season, we had a lot of different goals: Number one, eliminate turnovers; two, obviously wanted to get better in the red zone; three, wanted to execute better, which is obviously playing smarter; and four, improve on special teams. Not in that particular order. In my opinion, other than improve on special teams, aside from the missed field goal, which was a chip-shot, I think we failed in all three categories. Anytime that you play on the road and you turn the ball over and you give the opposition (the ball) three times — you know, one time down at the 10, and a few times on our side of the ball — you can’t win like that. Anytime we had a chance to accelerate the momentum, we shot ourselves in the foot. We’re going to have to learn from that. It’s unfortunate.

As an evaluator, it’s so important that you don’t overreact to a situation like this. As a human being, it’s hard not to overreact to a situation like this. How do you balance the two?

I don’t think overreact is probably the word I would use. The word I use is try to be real. When I see the film, be honest with myself, honest with coach, with Michael (Bidwill). If you’re not honest with yourself, you’re not going to be able to move forward and fix it. If you’re honest with yourself, you saw a lot of things that were extremely disappointing, especially execution. Offensively, we couldn’t run the football. You can say what you want — whether it was a seven- or eight-man box which we got a lot of — but that opens up the passing game. There were so many times we had people open. I don’t think it’s a secret that Carson (Palmer) was off, did not look comfortable in the pocket. Offensively we struggled. And it really put our defense in a tough position, who I thought played extremely well for about three quarters before they got tired and were out there on the field too much and again, had to deal with short-field situations.

Was there anything about Carson Palmer that you saw in Week 1 that makes you remotely concerned for Week 2 going forward?

I’ve seen Carson have some off-days before. I feel like quarterbacks do, but generally, such a competitor, it makes him angry and he usually bounces back and plays well. I’d be surprised if he didn’t come out firing next week and I’d be really shocked if he didn’t play extremely well. But again, he struggled, he’d be the first to tell you that — missed some wide-open throws, missed some reads, made some poor decisions. He’ll be back here first thing this morning and he’ll get better from it.

Bruce Arians said that Carson was playing fast, he was hurrying. Did you see that as well on film ?

He just looked antsy in the pocket to me with his feet. We all know that your feet alignment and those things playing in rhythm with your body can affect your accuracy. Some of those things, whether it was two or three deep outs to (receivers) J.J. (Nelson) and John (Brown) when he put them in the dirt, little things like that are just mechanical issues, ’cause Carson is extremely accurate, usually. In those situations, it just didn’t look like him. He’ll get back to the basics and work on the fundamentals, and next week make sure he plays a little more calm in the pocket and get his feet right.

As a former offensive lineman, when you saw your o-line play, what was your biggest takeaway there?

In the run game, we have to do a better job on combination with blocks, not have any leakage, so we didn’t knock them off the ball as well as I thought we could. Again, playing with seven- and eight-man boxes, sometimes it dictates what you can do and you have to determine that your’e going to throw the football ’cause it opens things up. But then in pass protection once (left tackle) D.J. (Humphries) got hurt, who I thought played well before his injury, John Wetzel had his troubles from time to time, whether it was speed to power, or he also got beat off the edge for a sack, just missed with his punch. The other guys I thought were OK. There were times there was leakage off of gains and stunts, but we only gave up one sack. There were times I think where maybe Carson just held the ball too long. He’s got to get it off quicker, make a quick decision. You can’t block a defensive lineman forever. There’s so many people involved in that. It’s easy to say the offensive line was terrible or the quarterback had a bad day; they all have to work in unison together, and that’s the one thing everybody’s got to understand.

D.J. Humphries, what is the latest on D.J.?

He’ll get an MRI today and just like any of the injuries, I’ll follow up with (trainer) Tom Reed this morning. He was walking out of the stadium last night. Who knows? I’ll find out a little more about time loss if that’s the case.

And David Johnson as well?

Same thing. He’s going to get an MRI this morning, and I’ll find out a little bit more. There were no conclusions based off last night’s information.

Do you have a gut feeling on their availability for Indianapolis?

No, I don’t because there have been times where I felt guys have been injured significantly and they play the following week, and then there are guys I don’t think it’s much of anything and I’m unfortunately told by the trainers that the guys are going to miss four to five weeks. It’s hard to forecast that, and I leave that up to the doctors and the trainers.

I thought Haason Reddick played incredible well. Did the film bear that out?

Yeah, I think he played extremely well, particularly for a rookie in his first game. Not only did he do good things on the perimeter and in coverage, you saw how well he closes and how well he tackles in space. You saw him also come off the edge and miss — he had (Lions QB Matt) Stafford in his arms to sack him and Stafford threw it. His speed and quickness off the edge is something that is obviously special. Chandler Jones is another guy that excited you because he should have had four sacks, which is a great indication that he’s got to do a better job finishing. There are so many good things that I took away from the defensive film — again, predominately the first three quarters — that gets you excited because we play fast, we play physical. We’ve got to play a little smarter in the backend, but there are good things you can take away from the defensive side of the ball. Offensive side of the ball: executed, rhythm and turnovers. That’s got to get fixed — it’s got to get fixed really soon.

Bringing up Justin Bethel, there were a lot of good plays he made early in the game, and there were a lot of plays where he needed to make and didn’t at the end of the game. In a broad spectrum, how did your corner opposite Patrick Peterson play?

Again, times that balls are caught on guys, you’re not exactly sure what the situation is. For example, there were some balls caught on him — obviously, the deep ball caught at the end of the game, there’s no doubt he got beat. A little earlier than that, there was a big third-down conversion that we blitzed and Justin gave up a first down. On that play, (OLB) Markus Golden was supposed to loop around, and he would have been the contain, and he would have actually ran right into Matt Stafford and either sacked him or made him get rid of the ball quicker. Instead, (Golden) went inside and Stafford was able to roll out with no defensive player around him and make a deep, long strike. You’re asking your corner to cover for four or five seconds, which is hard to do.

I know Phil Dawson doinked one off the left upright here but overall, your special teams: can you evaluate that for us?

Aside from Phil’s snafu on the field goal, that was an area I felt like our cover teams have gotten much better. Two guys that stood out to me: Rudy Ford, number 30, who’s like 10 yards in front of everybody when he runs down on kickoffs and punts, and Budda Baker, who I thought did an excellent job as well. Both of those guys I think are huge upgrades as far as core special teamers. (Punter) Andy Lee did a nice job for us; I think (he and Dawson are) both going to be solid. I have a lot of faith in Phil. It was sort of like deja vu seeing him miss that field goal because it was a chip-shot and it’s so unlike him, but I think he’ll bounce back and be alright in the long run.

The Colts didn’t look very good this weekend and you know the famous data about being 0-2 and an NFL team. Do you even remotely hear the words ‘must-win’ for this game in Indianapolis?

I don’t look at any game as a must-win. The way I look at it is, if we play smart football and we do things the way that we’re coached to do, and we don’t make huge mistakes and turn the ball over on the road, I like our chances against anybody. But if we turn the ball over four times, against, I don’t care who it is — Shippensburg State University — it’s going to be awful hard to beat somebody if you’re playing that poorly with turnovers and execution offensively. You just can’t keep doing that to your defense. We got to get our stuff together this week. I know Coach and Carson and all those guys will use this as a tool to improve and really make it a chip on our shoulder that we just have to get better this week, and we’re just ready to come back to work and get this bad taste out of our mouth.

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