Cardinals GM Steve Keim rooting for Byron Leftwich’s future as OC

Nov 9, 2018, 8:09 AM | Updated: 8:58 am
Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, right, watches from the sideline during the...
Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, right, watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

The long-term job status of Cardinals offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is fluid as he enters his second game on the job, Arizona general manager Steve Keim said Friday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

“I mean I think it’s one of those things, it’s constantly — we’re in an evolving stage right now,” Keim told Doug & Wolf when asked about whether the team would commit to the offensive coordinator beyond this year.

Friday is the three-week mark since Arizona fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and replaced him with Leftwich, who is in his third year as an NFL coach.

And three weeks in so far, so good.

Leftwich called plays for the first time in Week 8 as Arizona beat the San Francisco 49ers, 18-15, heading into a bye week.

It was Leftwich’s relationship with rookie quarterback Josh Rosen and his own experience in the NFL that the Cardinals hope can shape up the league’s worst offense. Positives shined through against the Niners, as Rosen led the team on two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and Leftwich got solid production from star running back David Johnson (100 scrimmage yards) and Larry Fitzgerald (eight catches, 102 receiving yards).

Early as it is, that bodes well for Leftwich’s future as Arizona prepares for the second half of the year and a Week 10 game at Kansas City on Sunday.

“We’re looking at every facet of this organization, whether it’s personnel or coaching,” Keim said. “At the same time, I’m rooting like heck for Byron. He’s a great guy, he’s passionate, he’s got a great feel for the game. Him and Josh have developed a very good relationship. Moving forward here, we’ll see what the next eight weeks bring, and once again, very excited to watch not only Byron call plays, but the continual growth of Josh under Byron’s tutelage.”

Here’s what else Keim touched on while visiting Doug & Wolf in his weekly appearance.

On getting to see former coach Bruce Arians as he prepares to call the Kansas City game on CBS: “Oh, man. I’m excited to see him. B.A. was not only special to the organization, he was obviously very special to me from a personal standpoint. Guy grew up about 12 miles from me and was able to work together for the first five years as general manager. I mean, it was truly an honor. I can’t wait to see him and give him a big hug.”

On the decision to release Sam Bradford: “There’s a number of things that went into that decision. He was the third quarterback on our depth chart so the number of snaps he was getting in practice and being deactivated on gameday really led to the decision that, hey, let’s use that roster spot, let’s find some young guys out there.”

On the bye week: “I think for the most part, number one, we’re healthy from top to bottom coming out of the bye. Gave some of our players a chance to get healthy. And quite honestly, get fresh legs again.”

On watching Rosen’s game against the 49ers: “Well, I just think he’s not only extremely tough but showed resiliency. Just the fact of how hot he got. That fourth quarter, he was throwing some lasers around the field. He made some fantastic throws. And then how fun it is to really sit back and really give you some insight into what the future is going to look like with Josh to Christian Kirk, and as well to Larry Fitzgerald, who we know is coming upon a huge milestone in his career.”

On if Rosen is ahead or behind on his developmental schedule: “Well, I think he’s ahead. The other fact of the matter is we talked about (it) before, the one real positive in all this is he’s getting those game snaps right now instead of having to be delayed in his career. He’s going through his growth period right now.

“There are a number of things that Josh can still work on. Seeing the field and some of those different concepts, there are areas where we can improve. But again, to have the kind of poise and pocket presence he has, some of the throws he’s made are amazing. There are times when we all know he looks like a rookie out there and there are times when you look at him and you realize this guy’s got a chance to be a heck of a player.”

General thoughts about the 49ers game: “I think defensively we played with a lot of energy and did a much better job of stopping the run game. I thought Byron did a nice job of trying to create those isolated mismatches that we were looking for. Did a nice job in the screen game, which opened some things later, and got the ball in 31’s hands, which to me is extremely important to have success.”

On if he likes pumpkin pie: “I love it. Man I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin milkshakes. Somebody was just telling me just recently — obviously I’m very busy — but something about basic girl or something that likes pumpkin and Uggs or something like that. I guess I’d be a basic guy because I love pumpkin everything.”

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Cardinals GM Steve Keim rooting for Byron Leftwich’s future as OC