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:
Where do you start when you look at this game?
“Great question. I think credit goes to a lot of different people. You look at the people who made contributions yesterday, you can spread it out. Whether it’s J.J. Nelson, Michael Floyd, Justin Bethel, Carson Palmer, David Johnson…go down the list of players that are making the huge impacts that they’re making – from one to 53, it’s not just three or four guys. We’re spreading the ball around, different people are making big plays, defensively guys are stepping up, when injuries occur players step up. Guys like Ed Stinson on defense yesterday I thought played an excellent game. So a lot of credit to go around.”
What did Justin Bethel do to make you want him be a Cardinal longer?
“It’s easy. It’s kind of what I told Justin. I said not only does this contract reward you for your contribution in the past – being a two-time Pro Bowler, a 25-year-old young man that continues to grow and get better – but it also acknowledges the expectations that we have for him moving forward. I’m glad we got the contract done before yesterday because he played excellent.”
When you watch Michael Floyd play, what is your evaluation?
“I think it starts with a young man who has grown and matured a great deal over the past couple years. In particular, this year he’s come in with a great attitude. The work ethic and the time that he prepares off the field, and his attitude. He’s been excellent, man. He’s really done a nice job for us. He continues to make huge plays. I think he’s even gotten better physically. There was an element of tightness I thought he had in the past to his upper body as a route runner, I think down the field he’s gotten better with his catching radius, so as a young player who continues to get better and better, it’s been fun to see.”
You have him under contract until next year. Do you want to wait until the offseason to negotiate something long term?
“That’s something we’ll discuss after the season and we already have some of those discussions ongoing right now. I think right now the pressing need are the guys whose contracts expire after the season – guys like Justin Bethel who we just addressed. So knowing that we have Michael Floyd under contract next year, those are the talks that will have to move forward after the season.”
Where did you find Kerwynn Williams again? Man, he looked good yesterday.
“He’s done a great job and the great thing about Kerwynn is we had him on the practice squad and it was an extremely difficult decision when we had to release him in August. Because he was a guy that coach and I talked over and over about him, I mean his natural run skills are really, really good so we almost looked at him as a fifth back on our roster. We’re thankful that he didn’t get claimed by somebody else. But Kerwynn is definitely a guy who has the run skills, the explosiveness, the short area bursts to be a player in this league. I think everybody saw that yesterday. So to have the combination of him and David Johnson, and hopefully to get Andre Ellington back soon, should be a great combination.”
How was he not picked up off your practice squad?
“When we initially released him, I basically thought we could kiss him goodbye, because he did just enough last year where I thought teams that needed a back would claim him, but we were fortunate. It’s hard to answer for other people but I’m sure glad nobody else did.”
How concerned are you about David Johnson’s fumble?
“Well, I mean it’s always concerning when a player fumbles, yet at the same time you see some of the special qualities that he brings to the table. I mean, David Johnson falls forward and it’s two, three yards. It’s amazing with his size and things. He is far away from being a special player, but he’s got special skills. When you see a 6-foot-1, 220-pound back stop and stall like he does with his lateral quickness, his feet, his vision, and his ability to finish runs between the tackles, and then you add that with his receiving skills? When I watched the film this morning, some of the stuff that he does on tape is just jaw dropping. I know he’s the type of kid because he’s such a good person, he’s such a hard worker, that he’s just going to get better and better.”
The ever-famous fill in the blank question: If the Cardinals are going to make noise in the playoffs, we have to ____?
“Play with the focus and consistency we played with yesterday. I thought we started off the game a little slow, especially with shooting ourselves in the foot as we entered the red zone. But if we continue to run the ball with effectiveness like we did yesterday and continue to set up our play action game in general, we’re going to be a tough team to stop. Always, as we’ve talked about in the past, you want to make sure we can continue to get pressure without having to manufacture it from a board standpoint. There are some things that we need to continue to work on but I feel good about our chances moving forward.”
What throw was the most impressive throw that Carson Palmer made yesterday?
“That’s a good question because he made a couple throws with people in his face that were amazing. But to drop the ball in the bucket with John Brown on that deep ball late in the game, I mean it was an unbelievable throw.”
Did he get hit too much yesterday?
“I thought so live, but then I went back and watched the tape and that’s the one thing the Rams do—they bring so much pressure that there are going to be a lot of hops that Carson’s got to get the ball out. Yet at the same time I will say this, watching the film this morning, Aaron Donald—I don’t know if I’ve seen any guys go on the interior who can rush the passer like he does. He’s unbelievable. But I think Carson does a great job getting the ball out. As a general manager you hate seeing your quarterback get hit at all, but when you play a team like the Rams you know you’re going to take some shots.”
I could not be more impressed by J.J. Nelson. Do you know what a nightmare that is for defensive coordinators now when you talk about Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown and now you’ve got to worry about this kid? That is a stunning blend right there.
“Yeah, when you saw the play live, the question I had was what was better, the throw or the catch? It was a tremendous catch by J.J., and that’s the interesting thing. Here’s a guy that was the fastest player at the combine last year, he has smaller hands for a guy that is his height, and at the same time has tremendous ball skills – much better ball skills than most people anticipated. He’s an interesting guy. His ability to drive off coverage and to be able to drop and wait to get in and out of routes, he’s been a pleasant surprise.”
What’s the most difficult thing for the organization to deal with in a short week?
“Just recovery time. I think this week is about preparation mentally. I think you’ve got to make sure that you take care of your players’ bodies first and foremost, but then on the back end of it you almost look at it as a mini-bye. It’s extremely difficult to get ready for a Thursday game yet at the same time on the backend you may be able to recover a little bit.”
Health-wise how is the team doing?
“On the surface we seem okay. Hopefully, we get a couple of these other guys back. Frostee (Rucker) and Cory Redding I know are getting better, Jerraud Powers is improving, so hopefully not only do we not incur any major issues but hopefully we get some players back.”
How’s Jermaine Gresham?
“I have not heard yet, I have to talk to Tom Reed at some point this morning but when I talked to him in the locker room last night he said he seemed okay.”
Do you anticipate Andre Ellington playing anytime soon?
“Again, I haven’t talked to Andre or Tom Reed so at some point I’ll get some more information.”