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.

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