Keim Time: Cardinals acquired Adrian Peterson hoping for a spark

Oct 16, 2017, 9:09 AM | Updated: 4:32 pm

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LISTEN: Steve Keim, Cardinals General Manager

For those who expected to see the All-Pro Adrian Peterson rather than the 32-year-old dealt for a conditional late-round draft pick, it’s time to cash in on any bets.

If there were Peterson doubters, it didn’t appear any were in the Arizona Cardinals’ locker room Sunday. Behind the running back’s fast start, the Cardinals built a 31-0 lead before holding on for a 38-33 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a healthier offensive line and a new rushing dynamic, the performance turned the team’s trajectory sharply in a positive direction.

General manager Steve Keim joins Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station every Monday morning during the season to review what’s happened — this week, he reflected on last Tuesday’s trade for Peterson — and to look ahead to what’s next for the Cardinals. Can a re-energized offense continue to thrive when Arizona visits London to face the Los Angeles Rams this week?

It’s Keim Time.

Steve, don’t you have better things to do in your life than spend 11 hours on a flight with Ron Wolfley?

Oh, there’s no question about that, guys.

How are you doing this morning?

Doing good, doing good. Like you, preparing for this long flight. Loading up my iPad with a lot of college videos, so hopefully I can get caught up a little bit.

This is the one time we get to talk to you. I know the story is a week old for you, but for us being able to talk to you about it: How long this year have you been interested in Adrian Peterson? Take us through the process of trying to get Adrian Peterson to become a Cardinal.

I mean, as soon as David (Johnson) went down (in Week 1), we not only look at the ready list of available free agents out there, but we also look at potential trade options. There was no question that Adrian was a guy that we did our research on, obviously, from the history that he’s had in the NFL — extremely impressed with the career he’s had.

It’s one of those things that you continue to follow up with the team that you’re trading with. It just worked out Tuesday where I picked up the phone and called (Saints general manager) Mickey (Loomis) and talked to (coach) Sean Payton, and the trade happened pretty quickly.

Did you know that he still had that burst and that acceleration? I just saw him, I’ll admit, as a power runner at this point.

I looked at every touch from the last two years so you saw flashes that he still has the foot-speed, the acceleration. You never know how he fits in your offense. You’d like to project that he’d fit well. The fact that I’ve done so much homework on him the past 11 years, I knew the type of person he was, the type of player, the passion that he runs with. That part of it I felt was easy.

But it happened quickly. Bruce (Arians) and I spent a lot of time talking about it, was able to talk to Michael Bidwill the day that the trade went through, and he and I discussed it at length — the type of energy that he would bring to the locker room, the organization, and hopefully add a spark to this offense. More than anything, I think we all would agree that it just created balance. The one thing that I think probably gets overshadowed in all this is when you get your starting left tackle (D.J. Humphries) and your starting left guard (Alex Boone) back. And both of those guys played exceptional, in my opinion.

Was it a case where you were interested right after the David Johnson (injury) happened, and the price was still a little too high? Did the Saints drop their price? Did you go up to their price? How did the negotiations work over the last few weeks?

That’s something that I’ll keep between Mickey and I, and Sean. Needless to say, they were willing to move on. And I’ll give them a lot of credit because through the negotiations and through the conversations I had with both Mickey and Sean, they were very complimentary of Adrian as a person and a player. They noted several times they wanted what was best for him. It wasn’t all about just getting compensation for a player. I mean, they really did wish Adrian the best and were hoping to find the right landing spot for him.

You mentioned the offensive line. Just talk a little bit more about the offensive line and what you saw on tape.

Well, for the first time this year, in my opinion, we saw five guys up front playing in unison. Not only the combination blocks, the deuce blocks, passing off games and stunts — those guys I thought played very, very well up front. Again, particularly the two on the left side. I thought D.J. was excellent. We’ve always known he can run-block. His ability to roll his hips and finish at the point of attack is something to me that sets him apart from a lot of other tackles. Him and Alex on several of those deuce blocks, they created five and six yards of run lanes for Adrian just because of the point-of-attack movement they created.

You mentioned a second ago, you said you talked to Michael Bidwill about making this trade. I’m obviously going to make the assumption because there are a lot of people that still have a lot of raw emotions, negatively, toward Adrian Peterson and some elements of his past. I’m assuming that was part of the conversation with Michael Bidwill. How did you come to an agreement that said, this is the right move for the Arizona Cardinals to bring in a guy like Adrian Peterson, who does bring up negative emotions for some fans?

With any player, we leave no stone unturned. We talk through every part of the player, whether it was on the field and off the field. Both of us were comfortable with where he is at. More than anything, did our research on what kind of a teammate he is, what kind of player he is in the locker room and how he is in the community. And we were extremely impressed, needless to say. Michael was very, very excited about the transaction. Just seemed like yesterday it paid off.

Go into detail as to why you made the move for Adrian Peterson. What compelled you to do it?

I think it’s pretty simple. At the end of the day, it just makes us better. That’s the one thing I’m committed to do as the general manager — I know Michael’s committed to do, B.A.’s committed to do. I mean, we’re not going to sit on our hands if we think we can get better. It doesn’t mean we always make the right decisions; I’ve certainly made my mistakes here.

The one thing I’m always going to do is swing. To me, you can never hit a home run if you don’t step up to the plate and swing. I owe it to the organization, I owe it to the fan base. That’s the mindset that I’m always going to have. I’m going to continue to be aggressive when I have those opportunities. Hopefully this is the first of many.

Chandler Jones said something to me last night about the trade. It made me think back to giving up a second-round pick for Chandler, which seemed a little steep at the time. But he’s on pace to have 16 sacks and has been an excellent addition to the locker room as well.

Larry Fitzgerald made a joke when he was at the podium, just kind of offhanded saying, ‘Boy, I wish we would’ve had (Peterson) 10, 11 years ago at draft time.’ That was 2007. If you were the general manager in 2007, would Adrian Peterson had been an Arizona Cardinal?

Listen guys, you can go back and say that about a lot of different players. At the end of the day, I was not the general manager, and I’ve certainly made enough mistakes in the position I’m in right now. I’m just trying to take every year, every day and be humble and get better at my craft, and hopefully I’ll be able to put a product on our field that’ll give our fans something to be proud.

Steve, do you feel like you saved the season? Do you feel like you actually saved the season by trading for Adrian Peterson?

I don’t think it saved the season. Again, because I don’t want to underscore when you have three offensive linemen that are starters hurt in this league and it’s hard enough to find five who can play, what that means. Again, those two guys played exceptional. Those other two guys up there, (right guard) Earl (Watson) coming in, in his second start, played, I thought, very solid. A.Q. (Shipley) has been a solid rock in there at center, and I think Jared (Veldheer) played solid. So I don’t wanted to underscore the fact those guys block — on top of the fact that Larry (Fitzgerald), and Jaron and John Brown, those guys block extremely well on the perimeter.

I think more than anything, again guys, it’s about igniting a spark and creating some enthusiasm throughout your building, which was infectious the minute we did it on Tuesday. Larry even texted me and said a lot of the guys were texting back and forth, and everybody was really, really excited. So there’s something to be said for momentum, and again, part of that momentum on offense that we created was a good thing. Now we have to figure out why the momentum issues are happening on defense to move forward, because that was really, really disappointing to have a 31-to-nothing lead and to be able to give up that kind of lead in such a short time.

Your defense played so well in the first half. What do you think happened in the second half?

They played well in spurts and they have all year. It’s just giving up one deep ball, which again, creates a momentum shift. And we have to learn and be mature enough as a defense that when that momentum shift happens, we get up and we answer the bell. It’s always a learning lesson, we have a long way to go. But I think we have the pieces in place to be a good football team.

Chandler continues to play well. (DL) Corey Peters is a guy who doesn’t get enough respect around the league; I think he’s played excellent. (DL) Frostee (Rucker) continues to flash and do good things. You know, (cornerback) Tramon (Williams) stepping in yesterday, he’s such an instinctive player who has a feel for the game, really anticipates well and sees the field. Hopefully we’ll get him on the field a little more moving forward.

Pat P has obviously had a great year. Another guy who’s been a great addition is (safety) Antoine Bethea. He’s another guy who again doesn’t get enough credit I think he deserves. I think it was his third interception. All he does is make plays, tackle guys in space, come to balance. The thing I like about him is he’s such a strong leader in our locker room, and he’s such a positive guy. To me, he’s been a great addition as well.

What about Patrick and his quad going forward? Do you expect him to be good going forward? Do you expect him to miss a game, any time?

I wouldn’t expect that, no. He’s one of those guys — it tightened up a little bit but there are probably 10 guys on this team that have injuries that most players in the NFL could potentially miss time. They’re just wired differently. They have a different mindset. They’re competitors, they’re warriors who are going to continue to play through injuries, and Pat’s certainly one of those guys.

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Keim Time: Cardinals acquired Adrian Peterson hoping for a spark