ARIZONA CARDINALS

Keim Time: Palmer, Cardinals played up-and-down against Colts

Sep 18, 2017, 10:18 AM | Updated: 3:42 pm
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LISTEN: Steve Keim, Cardinals GM

Avoiding the dreaded 0-2 start to the season, the Arizona Cardinals whittled away at the Indianapolis Colts and earned just enough breaks to pull out the 16-13 overtime victory.

Considering the opponent and the circumstances in their first outing without running back David Johnson, they’ll take the win, even if it didn’t alleviate several concerns.

General manager Steve Keim knows there are unresolved issues. He joins Doug & 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 win, what went right and addressed the road ahead as Arizona prepares to host the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

It’s Keim Time.

How are you this morning?

Good, good guys. Obviously, we all know it wasn’t high on style points and a lot of things on the weekly checklist that we’ve been trying to improve didn’t get fixed, whether it was red zone efficiency, eliminating mental mistakes, turnovers — we had the turnover that was so critical when you’re down by seven on the 26-yard line and you throw an interception. Those are times you have to convert. That right there was a crucial turnover.

Through it all, we were missing five guys on offense, which is certainly not an excuse because everybody deals with injuries on a weekly basis. We just have to continue to grow from these mistakes and luckily enough, we were able to scratch out a win. That’s the goal. We know it’s hard enough to win in this league on the road, regardless of who you play. The fact that we scratched out a win on the road and we’ll get back to home — which, it seems like two years since we’ve been back home and played at University of Phoenix Stadium, so I know all of us are looking forward to that.

How much do you really care that it was an ugly win versus, we won?

It’s frustrating while the game is going on. The next day, it’s a little disappointing when you’re watching the tape because you see all the miscues but at the end of the day, when you look back — since I’ve been here, we’ve won 10, 11, 13 games — in those years where we’ve had success, I don’t remember how we won the games. I just remember that we won, and that’s what’s important.

When you watch the tape, how did Carson Palmer play in your opinion?

Like a lot of the guys on the offense, I thought he played up and down. There’s no doubt that he made some critical mistakes. I know Carson the competitor he is, he’s hard on himself. The ball on the 26 and throwing it into double coverage, he’ll be the first to tell you it was not acceptable. He also made some throws in that game that not many other guys can make. The launch he made to J.J. with that placement and touch was exceptional, I thought. And in the fourth quarter when we had to have it and come up with big plays, I thought Carson was right on point.

There were some other guys. I think looking back last week to the Detroit game, I couldn’t pinpoint a lot of guys who had strong performances, in my opinion. This week was a little different. I thought J.J. Nelson stepped up in his opportunity and was excellent with five catches for 120 yards. Chris Johnson did some nice things for his first game back. There were a couple times he stuck his foot in the ground and got downhill and showed the acceleration and burst that I thought, quite frankly, he was missing in the preseason.

And then defensively, several guys. Chandler Jones really, really played exceptional in my opinion. Seven tackles, two sacks, strip and caused a couple holding penalties that were crucial in terms of field position. I thought Chandler was off the charts. Budda Baker continues to impress me, not only on special teams — Andy Lee had a 55-yard punt that not many guys in my opinion would have covered grass and (Baker) showed the kind of burst that he did to make that open-field tackle. And then on that critical third-down stop, playing the high post, he drove on that crossing route and looked like he was shot out of a cannon and made an open-field tackle.

Sometimes when you convert third downs, it has more to do with first down and second down. The Colts had a 3rd-and-12, a couple 3rd-and-7s. But they also had a lot of drives of only three plays or four plays. When you look at your defense, what did you see?

We do a nice job of getting pressure off the edge with Markus (Golden) and Chandler. Those guys are disruptive. What we have to do a better job, in my opinion, is create an interior rush.So when that pocket, you know, is set up, we can collapse the middle and put more pressure on these quarterbacks. I do think Jacoby Brissett did a nice job and I was really impressed with how he managed the game and the game plan they had. We were in position to make some plays and we just got to finish better.

There are always some tackling issues we have to clean up. Then we’re in position to make plays in the passing game and we just have to knock the ball down or when we have an opportunity to make an interception, we have to come up with it. At the end of the game, Tyrann made a huge play — I gave him a hard time afterwards and told him after he’s made all that money, it’s about time he did something like that to close a game out for us. In typical Ty fashion, he just gave me that smile. It’s good to get a win on the road. Like I said, more than anything, everybody’s excited to get back in front of our home crowd this week.

Phil Dawson, three seconds to go, 42-yard field goal. I’m thinking, Steve, you went out, you targeted Phil Dawson for this very moment. And he missed the kick. We’ve seen him also hit the upright in Week 1 in Detroit. Even though Andy Lee has held for him in 2013 and 2014, do you think that they haven’t worked together until recently is impacting him in any way, shape or form?

I don’t think so, Wolf. I certainly wouldn’t use that as an excuse. And I thought the same thing as he was lining up: ‘This is why we went out and got Phil.’ To be honest with you, I think our special teams for the most part has been vastly improved because I think Andy Lee has brought stability to the punting position. He’s done a nice job. Our coverage units have become much more athletic and I think have gotten more consistent as tacklers. I thought we’ve been much better on special teams.

There’s no doubt Phil has missed two critical kicks. He’s like Carson. He’s a true pro, he’s tough on himself. From what I saw this preseason and all the offseason, I was very, very surprised he missed those kicks because to this point he’s been automatic. He’s a kind of guy I have a lot of faith in and I have no doubt he’ll get it cleaned up and we’ll have a lot of success with him moving forward this fall.

The words from the TV broadcast that drew the most attention on Twitter was ‘Drew Stanton was warming up.’ Was there an actual thought of Carson sitting out a series or was Drew just over there, ‘hey, I want to stay loose in case’? Were you worried about Carson’s health? Why was Drew warming up?

B.A. didn’t say anything to me. As far as I know, I could be wrong, but there’s been quite a few games where Drew will throw the ball and warm up on the sidelines just to stay loose, as well as other players at other positions. Unless I’m missing something, that’s something that he does — I don’t know if it’s a weekly basis — but from time to time.

J.J. Nelson, what are the things he needs to do better, to take that next step as a wide receiver in the NFL?

The one obstacle he’s going to have is his slight frame I think when we drafted him, he was 158 pounds, which not many receivers in the NFL have had success at that size. We all know he’s got lightning speed, he’s got tremendous body control. The consistency catching the football has been an issue, which yesterday I think he proved he can make tough catches. He’s just got to do it on a consistent basis, particularly in traffic. I think getting off press coverage and again, challenged down the field in coverage and making those big plays when he’s covered up by big bodies is something he’ll always have to grow and continue to get better in that area. He’s the one guy that when John Brown’s out can take the top off the defense. That is something we direly need in this offense. Yesterday he came up big and that’s all we can ask for. When it’s the next-man-up attitude and we’re missing five starters, those guys that are getting their opportunities have to play well, and a few of them did.

J.J. was one. I thought (OG) Alex Boone, aside from one or two snaps, played very, very well. The thing I like about Alex is he brings a temperament and a mentality to our front. He’s the kind of guy that … he plays to the whistle and from time to time even a little after the whistle.

You guys left on Friday for Week 1 (in Detroit), left on Saturday for Week 2 (in Indianapolis). Why a changeup between the two weeks?

There’s a lot of things that go into it. Number one, we had left earlier the week before. Number two, we had a really long training camp. The time spent away from their families — we feel like we’re a mature enough team to get acclimated to the time change. I’ll never use that as an excuse. I think you want to take advantage of your resources. If we can fly in on a Friday and it makes sense, that’s great. But we should have been ready to play. Whether it was at 10 o’clock in the morning our body time, or should have been at 8 o’clock. Football is football to me, you line up and you play the game as physical as you can, and you never use time as an excuse. To me, we just have to execute better. To me, time should never be an excuse.

What about the health of the team? How’d you come out of this game?

I haven’t talked to (trainer) Tom Reed yet, but it seemed like for the most part, the initial injury report was good. If anything, we should be getting healthier this week. There are several guys that I anticipate coming back, and having an opportunity to play this week against Dallas. The fact that there’s an extra day playing on Monday night I think is going to give us an opportunity to grab two or three of these guys who missed against Indy.

Is there a guy that nobody is talking enough about this morning, in your opinion?

I think everybody’s acknowledged J.J. and Chandler did a great job. I think Andy Lee really did a nice job punting. We struggled so far, so long in that category. It’s a game of field position sometimes, particularly when it’s a low-scoring game. I think Andy did a nice job of helping us from a field-position standpoint. There’s no doubt Budda Baker made several plays on special teams and on defense that got us off the field.

Give us an David Johnson update. How is he doing?

He’s doing great. I saw him the other day in the training room when he got back from New York from surgery. Had a big smile on his face and again, my conversation with David, you can’t listen to what everybody says about the length of time you can miss. You can’t forecast that, especially whenever you’re a genetic freak like him. We all heal differently, and I wouldn’t be surprised if David heals much faster than most when it comes to that injury.

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