Former NFL executive Joe Banner praises Cardinals front office for calculated moves

Nov 9, 2021, 9:25 AM
Arizona Cardinals new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim (R) talk to the med...
Arizona Cardinals new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim (R) talk to the media at the Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on January 9, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury credited general manager Steve Keim following the team’s 31-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers Sunday.

Despite injuries to key players, Arizona took care of business with backup quarterback Colt McCoy and running back James Conner charging the offense.

Both veterans signed one-year deals with Arizona during the offseason, as Keim and his staff looked to bolster depth with veteran talent on short contracts.

That plan has resulted in an 8-1 start for the Cardinals, the best record in the NFL.

“The guys that step in, they step up,” Kingsbury said postgame. “Steve’s done a tremendous job bringing in great leadership and we’ve talked about that at length throughout the first part of the season, but he has. Whoever comes in, guys don’t hesitate to make plays and cut loose.”

The work of Arizona’s front office caught the attention of Joe Banner, a former longtime NFL executive most prominently with the Philadelphia Eagles and contributor to the 33rd Team football analysis outlet.

Banner comprised a midseason review of front offices, praising and criticizing three each. He gave accolades to the Cardinals not for just this season but the last few years that led to this.

I also think Arizona has made some really smart and calculated moves the past few seasons. They let Kenyan Drake go to Las Vegas on a two-year $11 million contract and replaced him with a much cheaper option in James Conner going into 2021. They also let Dan Arnold leave via free agency and were even able to upgrade at tight end at the deadline by adding Zach Ertz after Maxx Williams was lost to injury.

Overall, I think they have created a very strong core that is supported with both cheaper veterans and players on rookie contracts.

Banner went into the Cardinals’ decision to hire Kingsbury and draft quarterback Kyler Murray first overall in 2019.

Of Kingsbury, Banner gave him great credit for game planning last week and helping McCoy succeed. He wrote that it is unusual for a coach with a losing record in college to win in the NFL, but he noted that Kingsbury has the third-best record of eight coaches hired in 2019. He trails just the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Bruce Arians and the Green Bay Packers’ Matt LaFleur.

The former executive then said it took courage to draft Murray first given all the skepticism about his height and the fact that Arizona took Josh Rosen the year before.

… Not many teams would have just given up on their first round quarterback after one season. They deserve a lot of credit for that because it is very unusual for a general manager to make that kind of public admission that he messed up a quarterback pick that badly.

A lot of teams would be afraid to take that heat, but it has paid off immensely for them.

Life Changer Loans

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals receiver Andy Isabella was cut Tuesday. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...
Arizona Sports

WR Andy Isabella cut by Arizona Cardinals, who sign OL Billy Price

Wide receiver Andy Isabella's tenure with the Arizona Cardinals has come to an end. Arizona also signed offensive lineman Billy Price.
14 hours ago
Kansas City Chiefs kicker Matt Ammendola, right, is congratulated by James Winchester (41) after ki...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals sign K Matt Ammendola to practice squad with Matt Prater dinged up

The Cardinals are providing kicking depth by signing Matt Ammendola while Matt Prater resolves a hip injury that cropped up last week.
14 hours ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals and head coach Kliff Kingsbury wait along the sidelines du...
Tyler Drake

Kliff Kingsbury on exchange with Kyler Murray: Both ‘want to get it right’

Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury chalked up his heated exchange with Kyler Murray that was picked up by cameras on Sunday as a good thing.
14 hours ago
Philadelphia Eagles' Miles Sanders scores a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game...
Associated Press

Behind Enemy Lines: Miles Sanders quietly starring for undefeated Eagles

Take a look at all the players getting credit this season for the Eagles' start and it's easy to see why Miles Sanders was overlooked.
2 days ago
Ian Thomas #80 of the Carolina Panthers is tackled by Isaiah Simmons #9 of the Arizona Cardinals du...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals LB Isaiah Simmons’ snap count sees serious jump vs. Panthers

It was a near-full team effort from Arizona, with 47 players seeing their number called at some point or another in Week 4.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals kicker Matt Prater (5) watches his field goal attempt hit the goal post during th...
Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals weighing kicking options with Matt Prater banged up

Injured kicker Matt Prater represents a rather large question mark for the Arizona Cardinals entering Week 5.
2 days ago
Former NFL executive Joe Banner praises Cardinals front office for calculated moves