GM Steve Keim: Cardinals policing themselves to improve after 2-0 start
It’s been a minute since the longer-term Arizona Cardinals players have been in this position.
It was January 2016, when Arizona fell in the NFC Championship to Carolina, that the Cardinals could last call themselves a winning football team by record.
Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson and Corey Peters (although he was injured for the year) were part of that team. They’ve experienced the struggle since.
Minutes after their 30-15 win over Washington last Sunday, it became evident the Cardinals weren’t satisfied with their performance despite moving to 2-0 this year. General manager Steve Keim believes that, thanks to the long-term Arizona vets, an edge remains as Arizona prepares to host the Detroit Lions on Sunday at State Farm Stadium.
“I do,” Keim told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf. “Again, that starts with not only our coaching staff, our leadership … when you have a locker room that has players in it like Larry and Budda Baker and Patrick Peterson — and the list goes on — it’s not really that hard. Those guys really police the locker room themselves.”
Immediately after the Washington game, coach Kliff Kingsbury said the offensive penalties that killed at least three possessions remained a concern after they stung Arizona in a Week 1 win over San Francisco.
The defensive players worried about giving up 15 points to Washington all in the final 18 minutes of the game. A few big runs dampened their spirits.
“Even though we are 2-0, we do lead the league in penalties,” Keim said Friday. “When you look at our play on offense, you want to eliminate the negative yards, which continues to be an issue for us, as well as the penalties in all three phases. Once we clean those areas up, I feel really good about this football team. I love the character and men in our locker room.”
There are things the GM likes. The defense, re-armed with free agent additions De’Vondre Campbell, Jordan Phillips and Devon Kennard, has quietly allowed the seventh-fewest yards per game (341.0), perhaps thanks to the offense staying on the field.
Keim praised the cover unit that has created two turnovers as well.
Murray, even with his mistakes, has made up for them and then some.
Earlier this week, Peters suggested that the wins have only heightened his teammates’ focus on improving. He believes its easier for players to take criticism when things are going well.
“I honestly think it’s easier because when you come in after a win, everybody’s in a good mood. It’s the perfect time to talk about what we did wrong and how we can get better,” the defensive tackle said.
“We have big goals here and the goals are not to be 2-0. We’re in probably what I would say is the toughest division in football, and we know the type of team we’re going to have to be to win that division. We’re not there yet. It’s going to take us gradually getting better each and every week.”