Keim: Offseason gave Cardinals versatility to win in all environments
Dec 10, 2021, 3:58 PM | Updated: 4:32 pm
(AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has praised the team’s leadership refresh that included adding veterans like Rodney Hudson, J.J. Watt, A.J. Green and James Conner in the offseason.
The Cardinals have played focused football through a 10-2 start for sure, but Keim would also like to point out that offseason maneuvering improved the roster talent, too.
Maybe more than anything, that’s helped them build a team that can play an up-tempo Air Raid-esque style — or put their foot on the throats of opponents with a bruising run game. Arizona did that well in a 33-22 win in rainy, windy Chicago last Sunday, using a 35-15 run-pass ratio to win.
“… To be able to go up there and play as well as we did, to be able to control the game, to turn over the ball as many times as we did and to be able to run the ball so effectively when, again, maybe the conditions weren’t necessary great for passing the football,” Keim told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday. “I think again that’s a compliment to our coaches.”
Two of the new player additions had a lot to do with that.
Hudson at center and Conner in the backfield were a big part of the unique victory. Conner, taking the large share of snaps at running back with Chase Edmonds injured, rushed 20 times for 75 yards while leading the team with 36 receiving yards as well.
The Cardinals in each of the past two seasons were in the top-10 in yards per carry, but they sit at just 4.0 yards per rush this year. It’s the eight-lowest mark.
Yet, the numbers have been skewed a bit with Arizona taking early leads in many games and going heavy at rushing the ball with those buffers on the scoreboard.
Through 12 games, the Cardinals rank sixth in the NFL with 372 rushing attempts, and three teams ahead of them have played one more game so far.
“I think it’s one of those things you identify where your weaknesses were and you have self-growth, which was identifying a center, a guy like Rodney Hudson who could come in and anchor your offensive line … as well as changing the physicality,” Keim added of the offseason changes. “To be able to go in different climates, we’ve gone in and won with a physical run game … we can slow it down, we can speed it up.
“To me, the versatility is the strength of our teams at all different levels.”