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Steve Keim Time: Dwight Freeney is the best $200,000 we have ever spent

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dwight Freeney (54) salutes the fans with teammate Markus Golden (44) after his sack in Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
LISTEN: Steve Keim, Cardinals general manager

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, which follows a 23-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings:

Did you have the opportunity to watch all the games or did you have an opportunity to step away from it?

“No I had a chance to become a fan a little bit yesterday, but at the same time I was able to get some quality family time in and spend some time with the kids. But it was a good day to sit back and watch a little bit of NFL football and it gave me a little bit of perspective on what some of the other teams are doing around the league.”

Like what? What stood out to you?

“I watched a little bit of the Eagles game and it seems like they are on a roll and Sam Bradford seems to be playing good football now that he’s back and healthy. So that was interesting. Obviously the Panthers are rolling and they have a good football team.  Luke Kuechly is playing at a high level, Cam Newton on offense, so they are a fun team to watch.”

You are credited with making 1-year contracts a winning proposition in the National Football League and it’s being mimicked by man other general managers across the NFL. Why do they work?

“I think it’s a combination of things. I think it’s trying to find the right guy. I go back to talking about the person than I do about the player. Obviously these guys have had some type of success in the NFL, but you have to find guys who are hungry and are ultimately passionate about the game. So that’s part of it. The other part of it is that you have to have an open minded coaching staff that is willing to play the players and our coaches do a fantastic job of not only putting the players in a position to succeed, but more than anything they give them a chance to play which is half the battle.”

A lot of players are thrilled that after you beat a team on Thursday night, get a mini-bye weekend, how’s your health going into Philadelphia?

“Well I think it’s going to be better than it has been in recent weeks. Hopefully we will get some of these players back this week. I’ll find out a little more this morning with my update I usually get from our training staff, Tom Reed and our doctors. But it’s nice to get that mini-bye. As I said last week those games are tough to get ready for on Thursday night, and you have to be more ready for the mental preparation. I knew that Minnesota was going to be ready to go after the embarrassment of playing the Seattle Seahawks and the way they played in that game. Mike Zimmer does a great job and I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and that he would have his team ready to go.”

I want the Arizona Cardinals, I want you guys to lock up that No. 2 seed, we all know how critical that is. But I don’t think locking it up before the 16th week of the season is necessarily a good thing for a team, how do you feel about that?

“Yeah that could be difficult because some teams can get into that mindset of almost a preseason mode where you are playing your backups and your resting starters and then when it’s time to go, those players have had so much time off that they are not in football shape or mentally prepared and ready to go. I think it’s a double edged sword and it can be tough. I know coach and I are going to have some long conversations about it.  I know this, I’m just happy to be in that position where we may have to have that conversation.”

How critical are you of Thursday night’s game. BA said something funny that he couldn’t wait until Tuesday to chew them out because I’m sure there are a lot of things on film that concerns you but at the same time, how much is Thursday night football, just surviving and advance — happy to win  and ignore the film?

“I told you guys about the advice I got from Jason Licht, just be happy with the win, particularly against a good football team. I think Rick Spielman and those guys have a nice job. They have some players. There’s no doubt about that. So to come away with a win from a quality opponent, that’s really something to get excited about. Particularly on a national stage. I think we are 3-0 or 4-0 on national televised games. That’s exciting. But I think every game you to be humble and step away and look in the mirror honestly and look at where you have made some mistakes and grow. We had some guys who didn’t play their best football and at the same time we had guys like Michael Floyd stepped up, I though Calais (Campbell) played excellent. Deone Bucannon continues to play at a high level as well as Pat Peterson. We just have to be ready to go this week. It’s going to be an uphill, tough challenge on Sunday Night Football in Philadelphia and hopefully the weather helps us a little bit and it’s not too cold. But again coming off the weekend and the mini-byes is going to have our guys fresh and ready to go.”

What were you thinking when Dwight Freeney — with the spin move once again. What were you thinking when he came up with the strip sack?

I was thinking that’s the best $200,000 we have ever spent.

But another success Steve. Another success with a 1-year guy.

“Dwight was champing at the bit to get off the couch. We knew from watching the tape that he still had the ability to apply pressure. Again last year I think he only had four sacks the entire season but he was sixth in the NFL in pressures. That inside spin is remarkable. I have not seen many guys who can master that. To have a guy to come off the edge and to be able to gain speed coming off that edge. It’s unusual. I haven’t seen anybody else do it like Dwight Freenly does it.”

And they know it’s coming Steve. That is the thing that blows my mind every time. Every tackle that lines up against Dwight Freeney, knows here comes the spin. And they still can’t stop it.

“No doubt! It’s so difficult because if you are the tackle, do you play on your toes or do you play on your heels. Either way you are screwed because once that spin comes, you are going to be on your face.”

First four sacks that kicked in $200,000 bonus, now what happens for future sacks? What’s the big one?

“It just goes up in increments for every two sacks. He’s a guy that we are going to count on down the stretch because as we have talked about it on this show, if there are any concerns, it is that ability to apply pressure without manufacturing and bringing the blitz. James Bettcher does a nice job in diagramming our defense and making sure guys are in positions to succeed. but we have to be able to win one-on-one situations from time-to-time and Dwight Freeney is a guy who can definitely do that for us.”

When you watch the Cardinals offense on Friday or you might watch it that night against Minnesota, what were your thoughts about how the unit played overall?

“Solid. I wouldn’t rank it up there with one of our best games, but again having so many different play makers where Carson can spread the ball to whether it’s Larry or Michael in clutch situations. Darren Fells had some big plays and I’m continued to be impressed with David Johnson, not only his ability to run the football, but what he brings to the table offensively because he puts so much stress on the defense with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s one of the better receiving backs I have seen in a while, with his ability to run those angle routes and to be able to run those sling routes out of the back field and what he has also is what you have seen on a couple of the runs that he bounces is that he has such disruptive speed. For a guy who is 6 foot 1 inch, 226 pounds. He ran four fours coming out. I don’t think  sometimes defenders when they get a beat on him and they take a certain angle on him, that they understand the type of jets that he has on him and the ability to out run guys on the perimeter.”

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