Believe it or not, Russ Grimm is excelling for Cardinals

Oct 10, 2012, 9:36 PM | Updated: 10:47 pm

When a coach is given the tools to succeed and he’s not, he should be held accountable.

Over a certain period of time, if the results don’t match the support, a coach or manager should be fired.

Bob Melvin’s firing wasn’t because he couldn’t manage. It was because he couldn’t manage with Josh Byrnes as the general manager. It was the right time to make a change because the players weren’t responding and were separating into factions.

Dennis Erickson was given the proper amount of time to build a program. Although attendance was abysmal, he was given the required support from the ASU athletic department to produce more than a 6-6 record. It was the proper time to let him go.

Russ Grimm has been under fire by fans for the poor performance of the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive line. It’s a simple conclusion. The line is bad. It really hasn’t been very good the whole time he’s been here. Therefore, Coach Grimm is the problem. Hold him accountable and fire him!

There are a few problems with that theory. It’s 100% wrong. It’s 100% the conclusion of a simple man with no knowledge of football. It’s 100% based on zero facts. The biggest problem with the theory is it forgets one thing that no one wants to admit could be a possibility: if you fire Russ Grimm, the offensive line play could get worse.

Judge a coach by the results based on the tools he’s been given. What tools have been given to Russ Grimm? Grimm arrived in 2007. Check the draft picks that have come through Arizona during that time. If Russ Grimm was the problem, there would be a litany of offensive lineman drafted by the Cardinals that failed in Arizona and went on to successful careers once they were able to get away from the shackles placed on them by Grimm.

There aren’t any. Every single lineman drafted by the Arizona Cardinals during the time of Russ Grimm’s tenure is either on the Cardinals roster, out of football, or barely clinging to a roster spot somewhere else in the league. Zero players have been made successful by another line coach.

The truth is something no fan wants to accept. Admittedly it’s even painful for me to type. If it wasn’t for Russ Grimm, this line would be even worse. He’s doing an amazing job with a collection of stiffs, rookies, and a center that Grimm himself developed to exceed expectations.

Bobby Massie is a rookie that I truly believe in and still think was poorly-ranked by NFL scouts coming out of Ole’ Miss. I’m thrilled he has a line coach that is in the Hall of Fame.

D’Anthony Batiste has bounced around from organization to organization. He’s not an NFL-caliber left tackle. As impossible as this might seem to believe, he’s playing better than at any time in his career. Yes, that’s a negative for him because the bar is that low, but it’s a credit to Russ Grimm.

Lyle Sendlein has played far above his talent level. Russ Grimm deserves a ton of credit for that. When you watch Sendlein, he’s not terribly impressive but he always seems to just barely get the job done. I respect him greatly for that. This is a guy that’s pouring every ounce of talent he has into every play. Although Sendlein is the one with the blue-collar work ethic, it is Russ Grimm that is teaching Sendlein how to get everything out of his limited talent.

Guards Daryn Colledge and Adam Snyder have been terrible for the most part. On a good day, they’ve performed all the way up to below average. I understand it’s easy to go right to Grimm and point the finger at him for their performance. Let’s go deeper.

In the first season for the Packers without Colledge, they went 15-1. Why did a Super Bowl-winning team decide they didn’t want him back? When you watch how late he his on pulls and traps, you can see why he didn’t fit in Green Bay. On four different occasions this year, Colledge’s responsibility has dropped into coverage. Three times he stood there clueless and offered no help to the offensive tackle. Which game have you seen him blow past the first level and get a good hit on a linebacker to clear space for the running game? I haven’t seen it, that’s why I’m asking you. I’m sure Colledge is a great guy to get a beer with, but it’s time for him to make plays, not friends.

Snyder, so far, has been a bust. Maybe he doesn’t know the system and it might take him until next year. Maybe he is the player you can look at and ask what Grimm is doing with Snyder. However, I would argue that San Francisco’s offense has looked far superior this year without Snyder versus last year with him. Although you can’t draw a direct comparison because Jim Harbaugh has had an entire off-season to install his offense and the 49ers have a few more weapons, the line is playing even better than last year for San Francisco.

To further explain the lack of support for Coach Grimm, let’s look at those draft picks that the Cardinals have given him. We all know the first one: Levi Brown. Shouldn’t we all take a step back this year and acknowledge that Grimm has done a pretty good job with Brown. Levi will never reach the bar that should be set for a fifth-overall pick. However, it’s a credit to Grimm that he took such an inferior player and got five good years out him. Now that we truly see what life is like without Brown, it makes you wonder how bad it would have been if he would have been hurt in a previous season.

The other draft picks:

2007: No other offensive lineman drafted besides Brown.

2008: Brandon Keith in the 7th round…was with the Cards until last year. Currently a free agent and no one wants him.

2009: Herman Johnson taken in the 5th round. Lasted two years then went to Chicago. Signed for two years with the Bears and lasted seven months. Never played in an NFL regular season game.

2009: Trevor Canfield drafted in the 7th round. Four different teams have taken a chance on him. None of the offensive line coaches that have worked with him since have helped Canfield enough to earn a snap during a regular season NFL game.

2010: No offensive lineman selected.

2011: No offensive lineman selected.

2012 Bobby Massie…4th round…talked about him earlier

2012: Senio Kelemete taken in the fifth round. Hasn’t played a snap and it’s too early to judge.

2012: Nate Potter drafted in the seventh round. Hasn’t played a snap, and like Kelemete, it’s too early to judge.

If you think Russ Grimm should be fired for not making any of these players a successful offensive lineman in the NFL, then every O-line coach in the NFL should be fired because they couldn’t do it either.

Russ Grimm is not the problem. With what he’s been given, he’s a solution.

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