Sometimes, it’s best to go straight to the man in charge.
And when it comes to the Arizona Cardinals’ roster, that man is Steve Keim.
Arizona’s general manager since January 2013, Keim’s deft touch with the draft and free agency has led to the team becoming a contender in the NFC.
Lucky for us, Keim happens to be a weekly guest on the Doug and Wolf Show, right here on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. And since what he has to say is important, we thought it would be a good idea to put his words into print, allowing you to read what the GM is thinking. So, without further ado, here’s this week’s edition:
Do you remember the 58-0 beat down that [the Cardinals] took up there and you resolved in your heart never to let that happen again?
I did. Matter a fact last night I walked into the suite where we sit in Seattle. It’s the same place we sit every year. I told Michael Bidwill that that suite brings back two interesting memories. The 58-0 game where I wanted to take a shovel and try to find a way to tunnel out of that place and then the win that we had there two years ago. Brought back a lot of different feelings and emotions, but certainly great to get the win there last night.
Did this game blot that memory out?
More than anything it told me about the character of this team. You never feel like playing up there that everything is going to go your way you know that you are going to have to face adversity at some point. To play mistake free football, you know that’s probably not going to be the case and when you look back on it and realize that we did not win the turnover battle and to have three critical turnovers, one in the red zone with the interception and then two back-to-back fumbles that were converted to touchdowns. I mean, that’s really a tough situation to put yourself in. To have this group of guys to bounce back the way we did, it makes me realize that we do have a resilient bunch in our locker room.
Did this team need to get through Seattle to get to where they want to go?
I don’t know about the word “need”, but it’s a confidence builder. When you look back on the first part of the season and you realize that you had two losses and those two losses were really where we beat ourselves. We made critical mistakes, yet at the same time we didn’t bounce back. We put ourselves in positions to win at the end of both of those games and we didn’t make the plays that we needed to make. And then last night to bounce back like we did, to give up that lead when you felt like really you controlled the game for three quarters, and to still come back and finish it the way we did I think was a great exclamation point.
After you watch film, what name comes to mind?
That’s a good question. Mental toughness. Fighting through, playing in such a hostile environment. Having a group of guys who did not give up who believed in each other and to be able to fight through some of the things that happened. Again, back-to-back touchdowns that they scored, when we had a little bit of a meltdown from a protection standpoint. It was loud up there, there were some communication issues. Having Mike Iupati out of the game and having Earl Watford in there playing on a limited practice basis this week. There were some breakdowns with our protection, they brought a lot of pressure, so to be able to bounce back from that was huge.
Palmer rallied himself and rallied his team and you know how critical that is.
No doubt and the type of pressure that he was getting. Again, that drive after those two touchdowns when he took us down the field and he hit that strike with Jermaine Gresham in the end zone. To me that drive was a statement drive. That was a drive that really embodied the type of guy he is. The leader he is, the mental toughness he has, and the competitive spirit he has.
Carson get the game ball?
Yeah I think you’d have to. The way he played from start to finish and put us in a position where we could score that many points. A couple of other guys stood out though. Guys that got an opportunity and answered the bell. No one made bigger plays than Jaron Brown. You look at the touchdown on that draw, Britt Golden made a tremendous block downfield to give [Ellington] the opportunity to tight rope it and take it in the end zone. There were guys when they were called on they made big plays.
On the defensive side of the ball, which guys stood out on the film?
We started fast and we applied great pressure to Russell. I thought that we got a little sloppy in other points of the game with breakdowns, Russell got out of the pocket and made some big plays. That’s what he does. He’s a tough guy to handle with the type of stress and pressure he puts on you with his feet and his arm. For the most part, we had some guys that played extremely well. I thought Calais played well. I thought a lot of guys on our defensive front, Frostee continues to play at a high level. It was a great team win.
As of right now what’s the latest on Mike Iupati? Everything sounds good?
Yeah. We all had our fingers crossed and the great thing about our game today is the precautions we take, as an organization, as a league. We took him to the hospital, all X-rays and MRIs, CTs were negative. That turned out well for us. I know talking to him last night he flew home with us on the plane. You know, he was pretty sore, but thank goodness there were no major issues with Mike from an injury standpoint.
How did you feel like the protection was overall?
Again, up and down. Again it was a little bit of the type of environment. It was extremely loud In there. The miscommunication from time to time, but you nailed it. [Carson’s] ability to keep plays alive with his feet is something you would probably never think about when you talk about Carson Palmer. Most people think about him purely as a pocket passer. He’s done that all year, where he’s moved around in the pocket and found some throwing lanes and did an excellent job of keeping plays alive. There were several times that he did that for huge third-down conversions.
Would you like to say anything to all the people that said you terribly overpaid for Larry Fitzgerald?
I think the play on the field and the stats speak for itself. I’ve said it many times before. Some of the decisions you make, people are going to be critical of. Whether its guys you sign, whether it’s people think you overpaid. I think that if you continue to believe in yourself and you do things that you think that are best for the organization. I just think you have to keep that tunnel vision and not worry about what everybody says or thinks. As long as you think it’s right and it’s making the organization better, do it and don’t look back.
Was this the “welcome back” Michael Floyd game?
Yeah. Sometimes you look at the fact that we have quite a few weapons. Game to game, we have different guys that go off and have huge games. Larry has been very consistent this year, but there are some games when Michael’s made some big plays, John Brown, obviously last night Andre Ellington. That’s what’s nice, is to have several playmakers who can make big plays for you. Last night you’re right, Michael did an excellent job, had a huge game. I think he lost that one deep ball. I don’t know whether he lost it in the lights or if he just had trouble tracking it, but if he makes that play it was a huge night. He did an excellent job. Michael has really really matured. You can see that In his practice habits, you can see it the way he carries himself. He is completely bought in and to me has done an excellent job, having a great year.
With Cincinnati, how does a general manager watch a prime time game when he knows it’s his next opponent?
I think you’d watch it as a fan a little bit, but take notice and the type of playmakers they have. Marvin Lewis is a friend of mine and a guy I have a lot of respect for. They have tons of talent. To some degree, they remind me a little bit of us. They have playmakers on all different levels of the field, they have an explosive offense, Andy Dalton is playing at an extremely high level. It’s going to be a huge task, but like we faced with a tough atmosphere there’s no question in my mind that our fan base is going to be extremely loud and going to create that hostile environment for them to come in and make it a tough task for the Bengals this week.
Did you marvel at BA’s call or are you used to Arians’ play calling by now?
Nah, I’m used to it. Every game, I can’t say enough about him as a coach, as a play caller. He puts our players in positions to succeed. I don’t care if it’s this game with that bad call. There was a game a couple games ago when he called the screen on a critical third-down conversion where he faked one side and went back to the other. The guy really just does have a knack and to me that’s what makes him the best in the National Football League.