Sometimes, it’s best to go straight to the man in charge.
And when it comes to the Arizona Cardinals’ roster, that man is Steve Keim.
Arizona’s general manager since January 2013, Keim has overseen a transformation that has led to 21 wins over two seasons. His deft touch with the draft and free agency has led to the team becoming a contender in the NFC.
Lucky for us, Keim happens to be a weekly guest on the Doug and Wolf Show, right here on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. And since what he has to say is important, we thought it would be a good idea to put his words into print, allowing you to read what the GM is thinking. So, without further ado, here’s this week’s edition, which follows Arizona’s 24-22 loss against the St. Louis Rams:
Do you look at yesterday’s game and immediately think we’re moving on to Detroit and it’s over? How long does this fester?
“I think there’s always that period of time that you need to take as an organization to correct the errors. That’s how you grow and get better, through self-evaluation. I just got done watching the tape again. There’s a lot of things that were actually good and obviously some things that need to be corrected. When you have 447 yards to 328 yards, how do you lose? You lose because you have three turnovers and you’re one of five in the red zone. It’s pretty simple Football 101.”
When you look at some of the position groups on the team and you evaluate the players and how they played, what’s the first thing you think of? Where were you disappointed? Where were you encouraged?
“It was one of those days. It was one of those days where you saw guys, like a rookie like David Johnson do some things where you’re like, ‘wow, what a phenomenal skill-set the guy has,’ and then he has a fumble on the opening kickoff and he has a dropped touchdown. There’s a lot of good things to take away from it and some bad. The thing that’s positive to me – and if you’re going to take away any positives from a loss, which again very discouraged with the way we played yesterday – is that we were still in the game with a few minutes to go to win the game and we played as poorly as we did.”
Some of the things that we have heard from the players had a lot to do with second half gap control, staying disciplined. What did you see as you watched the film? Was that an issue?
“Yeah, from a defensive perspective it was just guys being out of their gaps, avoiding run lanes and that sort of thing. Again, when you look at the positives, I’m not sure I’ve seen a defensive tackle dominate a game like I saw Calais Campbell. I mean he had 11 tackles and completely controlled the line of scrimmage. To me, maybe his best game as a pro. But then there was stuff when you know, Kevin Minter was out of a gap or Deone Bucannon or Rashad Johnson took a bad entry level. There were a number of things and it was a team loss and I know our coaches will get these things corrected.”
You throw the ball 46 times in this game, how did you think the offensive line held up?
“Average. I will say this, when we were getting three and four man fronts I thought the guys did a decent job. Really where we had some issues from a protection standpoint was when they brought a lot of pressure. When they brought two to three extra defenders and if we didn’t see the hots or the sights. We had a little bit of issues with that. That’s where the number of sacks really came from. But they’re a good, talented defensive front. We knew it was going to be a challenge going into the game, and they get paid too. I’m more disappointed for the organization, the fan base because I know our fans brought it yesterday. They were extremely loud out there. We’ve just got to bounce back. It’s a long season and again there are some exciting positive things to look at.”
When you were watching Mike Iupati, how did he play as an individual when you take the whole picture into account?
“Probably like David Johnson, good and bad. There was some stuff and some rust he needed to take off, some bad footwork issues. And then there were a few good things. I don’t know if anybody played great. I would say if I had to pick one guy that played exceptional yesterday it would be Calais Campbell.”
How do you process what Carson Palmer did on the field? How did he play?
“A lot like David Johnson, some good and some bad. I don’t know if there’s anybody other than Calais that I could say played an excellent game. Carson is still to me doing a fantastic job. He made some great throws and there were some throws I’m sure he’d like to have back. You go to the third and two on the screen, probably if you put a little more air under it and got it over Robert Quinn you know you’re looking at a big play. And on the last play of the game, offensively for us, David was wide open on that slant and Carson just got a little too much air under it so we’ve just got to go back to the film and make the corrections and I know this staff and this team will be ready when we play in Detroit next weekend.”
When you’re watching everything, did anything jump out and alarm you as a general manager making you say wow I’ve got to get this problem solved now? Or was it just hey, we lost to a team that played well?
“I think they played well and I think we played poorly. We didn’t execute. We’ve had a lot of success early on this season for a number of reasons. Number one, red zone efficiency. The red zone efficiency probably couldn’t have been worse yesterday. You can’t come away one of five and kick field goals against a team that has a defense like this. And the plays were out there on the field to be had, we just left them out there, we didn’t execute, we didn’t make the plays when we needed to. As much yardage as we did get, as much as Carson threw for and Chris Johnson I thought had some really nice runs and did a nice job pick and sliding in the hole, but again we’ve got to get some things corrected.”
Not a lot to be happy about, but at the same time nothing that you feel you need to do dramatically different?
“Well you know, listen. Losing is not acceptable to me, so you’re asking the wrong guy. I’m not very happy obviously, but that’s the way that this organization needs to be run. From the top down we don’t want to lose and that’s what we should get our fans in a habit of having is a team that’s not accustomed to losing here. That’s the motto and the mindset that I think that we need to have. We have an infectious group of leaders in our locker room and I know that they’ll get this thing turned around and corrected. I know they’re extremely disappointed after the game yesterday.”
How did the Cardinals come out of this game from a health perspective?
“Pretty healthy. So far it looks pretty good. I’ll meet with Tom Reed and our medical staff this morning a little bit later and find out a little bit more but so far it seems like we came away pretty good.”
What’s Andre Ellington’s health standpoint and what do you expect from him against Detroit?
“He was close to being ready this week. As a matter of fact he practiced and I thought he looked pretty good out there. There were some things with deceleration that were still giving him a little bit of a problem. But I think he feels pretty good and he’s excited and ready to go. Hopefully he’ll have a good week of preparation and we’ll see him out there against Detroit.”
Do you think that it’s your role as a general manager to talk to players or do you leave that more up to Bruce?
“We both do. You want to make sure you instill confidence in these guys and that you still have faith in them. After every loss, on Monday morning it feels like the sky is falling. It does this year, it did last year and it did the year before. That’s not going to change and I don’t want that to change. I want that to fuel these guys and be a chip on their shoulder. But at the end of the day you can’t get too high and you can’t get too low. That’s really to me, the mindset you have to have. You’ve just got to make sure you’re putting in the work and you’re correcting these mistakes. I know that after this loss, these guys will be ready.”
What’s the key for you guys to stay focused on Detroit? In all the times that you’ve done this, what’s the key for west coast teams when they have back-to-back east coast games?
“I just think it’s not looking ahead. It’s taking one game at a time. More specifically when you’re playing in a game, one snap at a time. Every day that you come in you’ve got to get better and you’ve got to be prepared to play against that specific team. Every day this week these guys have got to come in focused and ready to play against the Detroit Lions and some of the obstacles that we’ll have and face against them. I think it’s just not looking ahead. I think you’ve always got to take every day and use it as a growth period.”
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