Cardinals’ Bidwill, Keim reflect on Arians’ retirement and the team’s future

Jan 1, 2018, 3:55 PM | Updated: Jan 2, 2018, 6:18 am
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Tempe, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians officially announced his retirement in a press conference at the Cardinals’ practice facility Monday.

Following Arians’ announcement, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim answered questions regarding Arians and the future of the Cardinals’ organization.

With the help from the Cardinals’ media relations staff, we’ve highlighted the conversation both Bidwill and Keim had with reporters on Monday.

Opening statement: 

Michael Bidwill: “Good morning everyone and Happy New Year. Obviously, you just heard from Coach Arians and I want to echo my thanks for coach. Five years ago, we met, and it’s been an incredible journey since then – got to the NFC Championship game, been to the playoffs and had tremendous success. He leaves the game today as the winningest coach in Cardinals history, both total wins and regular season wins. Really proud of the success he’s had with his coaching staff and all the players that have played for us, as well what he’s done in the community, just not on the field, but the off the field things that you heard about just a couple of minutes ago. The impact he’s had has been very real in the community and we couldn’t be more grateful to him and to his family for everything that they’ve done. He leaves the team in a very good position.

Steve Keim: “Obviously, I would like to thank Bruce Arians, as well. Probably a lot like Adrian Wilson’s retirement, you can tell it’s kind of hard not to get choked up. I don’t think there is any doubt that it’s going to be hard to replicate the kind of relationship we all had with Bruce and how special he was to us. We had some special moments – a lot of wins and battled through adversity together – and there’s no doubt that he’ll always hold a special place in my heart. As Michael said, we’ll now start our search for the next head coach. It’s an exciting time. We feel like we have a great core of talent on this football team. We’ll make some improvements this offseason, as well, and hit the ground running for 2018.”

On the future of the current staff:

MB: “That’s something Steve and I will be talking about. A number of years ago, we went through a similar situation. Some of those folks are under contract, and we’re going to honor all of the contracts, obviously. We’ll be in the individual discussions with them as well.”

On how Arians approached him with the decision and ensuing conversation:

MB: “Ultimately, it was yesterday we learned the news. Then he announced it today, just now.”

On if he tried to talk Arians out of retirement and if he can provide a glimpse of the conversation:

MB: “I think the most important thing is respecting (his decision). This is a very difficult decision for him to come to, and when you look at everything around his decision, I want to respect his decision and not try to put any pressure on him to come back, especially with some of the health issues and things like that he’s had over the years. Steve and I love him, and we want to see him have a great retirement. And we know he has left the organization in a great place with a great culture here, the locker room and everything else. And we appreciate everything he’s done – two-time (NFL) Coach of the Year and he’s just done tremendous things for this organization. I want to see him be happy and healthy in his retirement, and none of us were going to put any sort of pressure on him. We want to see him be happy and healthy.”

On the relationships between Bidwill, Keim and Arians:

SK: “I think that the success we had was built on that trust and respect for each other, and it was a philosophy Michael had when he hired us. It’s ‘roll up our sleeves, stay in our lanes and let’s do everything we can to improve this organization,’ and that’s what we did. He was unbelievable to work with. There were times I’d go down to his office – and I’ve told you guys – I could tell him, ‘Hey, we’re signing this player. We’re signing that player.’ The response was, ‘Cool, baby. We’ll get him ready.’ That just doesn’t happen in this league. So many times you get questions of, ‘Why are we signing this guy?’ And then Bruce had that trust, and the fact that we had so many examples of success in late signings were because his lack of fear for playing players off the street. And I think it’s a credit to him and his coaching staff that we had success with those guys because they catered to their strengths and put them in positions to succeed, and again, that’s the special qualities that Bruce had – not only the ability to coach guys hard and get them to love them later. As Michael said, he started a great foundation for us. We have a great culture here, and there’s no doubt in my opinion that this coaching position is going to be certainly one of the best out there.”

On desirable qualities of a head coaching candidate:

MB: “I think we’re looking for primarily three things. We’re looking for a leader. We’re looking for somebody with a track record of performance – different places, different personnel, different things. And I think we’re looking for somebody that’s going to keep this culture of accountability moving forward.”

On if the number of head coaching vacancies creates a sense of urgency:

MB: “You look at the urgency, and a number of years ago, when we hired Coach Arians, there was all sorts of urgency. I think there were seven coaches hired that year, and he was the seventh. I’m glad we didn’t get caught up like it’s a race or something because I think we made the right decision by being patient, following our process, which is going to be thorough, and we’re going to do the same thing again.”

On if an in-house candidate will be considered:

MB: “We’re going to look at all sorts of folks. I’ll kick that over to Steve.”

SK: “Yeah, I think we’ll leave no stone unturned, and that kind of information that you gain from the interview process is extremely helpful organizationally. You can learn different things from different organizations and how they do things. You’re always trying to look at self-growth and, ‘How can you get better as a franchise?’ And to me, this is a great opportunity for Michael and I to get out there and learn more about other teams.”

On what was learned during the hiring process five years ago that can be applied now:

SK: “That’s a great question. Again, what questions to ask and the process. Some of the things along the way that has happened in my tenure as a GM that I wasn’t prepared for or was all new to me that I can impress upon this coach that, ‘If this happened, how would you handle this? How would you deal with it?’ And the same type of questions that Michael would ask as well. Make sure that once we face adversity, are we going to be on the same page? Are we going to stay in your lane? And again, so many experiences that I’ve gone through now put me in a better position to be able to ask those type of questions, and I know Michael feels the same way.”

On whether the team has reached out to anybody yet or if it’s too early to have done so:

MB: “We’re going to be reaching out right after this press conference. We’ve got some permission slips that are part of the NFL process that are filled out. I’ll be signing them and we’ll be sending them off, probably within 15 minutes of the end of this press conference.”

On what will be Arians’ lasting imprint on him:

MB: “The ones on the field. The Green Bay game, the playoff game, that was unbelievable. Yesterday in the locker room – I’ve been around this my whole life, and that was one of the more incredible locker room environments yesterday afternoon in Seattle and it was the first retirement that I’ve seen and it was pretty emotional in the locker room. I think what he’s done in the community, all the different Arians Family Foundation events that I’ve attended. All the moments where we’ve sat, the three of us up in the draft war room, late at night, early in the morning, just kicking around what we’re going to do and things along those lines. I think Steve and I have both learned a lot from Bruce. There are many lessons that I know I’ll be carrying forward and same with Steve. It’s just been an honor to work with him and that culture that he’s brought. I think he’s really helped us with this organization. I look forward to taking those lessons that we’ve learned and making a better organization as we moved forward.”

On if the relationship between Keim and Arians contributed to a successful run:

SK: “It’s a number of things. I think the day that Michael put us both in this position was the fact that all three of us would have open lines of communication, which I’m proud that we did. And really, at the end of the day, we grew up 15 miles apart. I mean, how many times does that happen in the National Football League where you grew up that close to the person you work with? Very rarely did we have disagreements and when we did, we made Cardinal decisions and it was never personal. I think the best thing is looking back on the relationship and the way that he and Michael and I were able to communicate and how much pride I take in that.”

On if Arians’ teams reflected his personality:

SK: “No doubt. No doubt. When Jude asked that question to Michael, ‘What did you learn or take away?’ Mine was, ‘No risk it, no biscuit.’ No need to apologize for going for it and that’s what we’re going to continue to do as an organization. We’re going to continue to go for it.”

On if there are any feelings as to whether QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald will return next season:

MB: “I’m not going to speculate on anything, or speculate on speculators.”

On the need for a quarterback and if the new head coach will need a track record of developing quarterbacks:

SK: “I don’t know necessarily ‘need to,’ but at the end of the day, having your next franchise quarterback is no different from finding the next head coach and that’s going through the process, like Michael talked about, being true to it, and at the end of the day, you usually know in your heart who the guy is. The biggest thing is that we just have to make sure we aggressively approach it and take that on. Like I said, five years ago we started with no head coach and no quarterback and I feel like that ended up pretty good. I think that’s the way we need to approach this, this time around.”

On if Arians will help with the coaching search:

MB: “As Steve said, his door’s open and my door’s open. Bruce has given his, and will keep his comments private, but he’s given us his advice and wants to see us be successful and he is going to continue to be a friend of the organization, there’s no doubt. I’m excited he’s got that perspective and we’ll continue to have the benefit of his best judgment.”

On updates with the players who were injured yesterday:

SK: “As a matter of fact, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to talk to (Head Athletic Trainer) Tom Reed, but I know that Jermaine (Gresham) had the Achilles last night. Aside from that, I think there were some bumps and bruises but I don’t anticipate any major time lost or offseason issues.”

On C/G Evan Boehm’s knee injury:

SK: “As far as I know, it wasn’t serious. At least I haven’t heard that now. Many times, the MRI will prove whether that’s right or wrong. I haven’t gotten that information yet.”

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