Keim Time: Thursday night win ‘instilled some confidence’
The Arizona Cardinals got a much needed win against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night Football, but now their focus shifts to Monday Night Football.
The New York Jets are coming to Glendale next Monday, marking the second consecutive game the Cardinals will play in primetime, with a third to come on Sunday Night Football the following week against the Seattle Seahawks.
General manager Steve Keim joined Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM to discuss the win against the 49ers and what he expects from his team against the Jets.
Did Thursday night’s victory against the 49ers save the season?
“Well, I don’t know if it saved the season, but it certainly instilled some confidence in the football team that had lost some close games and really needed to get back on track. So it couldn’t have come at a better time. Some guys played extremely well and there’s still some concerns that we talked about before, like the slow start, particularly on offense, but for the most part I thought our guys flew around and played hard.”
What are the chances Evan Mathis returns this year?
“Well there’s always a chance, it’s the great thing about the new rule, is that you don’t have to designate that player, and you can continually monitor whatever players you have placed on injured reserve and make a decision at the appropriate time. It’s a six-eight week deal where you can return to practice in six and play in eight weeks, so we’ll continue to monitor all the guys on our injured reserve and make a decision at the appropriate time.”
How big of a deal is it that Evan Mathis is done for at least eight weeks?
“It’s a tough deal anytime you lose a core player and a guy who is such a strong leader, but the great thing about having quality depth and having guys who can play in different spots with positional flexibility is really something that has helped us recently. When you have a guy like John Wetzel who can step in and without any expectations actually played a pretty good game the other night. He came off the ball, played physical, and he’s a guy that because of his mental aptitude and his ability to play a few different spots, again, did a nice job for us.”
What is the status of Mike Iupati?
“We’ll find out a little bit more today and tomorrow, you know, if there’s going to be any kind of time lost for Mike, but the next two games when you look at those fronts, there’s no question that they pose some problems for you. But there’s no doubt that we have confidence that there are going to be some guys, whether it’s Earl Watford, or Wetzel or Cole Toner, guys like that who will step up and answer the challenge.”
Were you surprised how successful Wetzel was playing guard?
“Well you know, this league is made up of a lot of guys who are smart, tough and competitive, and those are the great attributes that to me you have to have for an offensive lineman, and there (are) the variables like athletic ability, foot speed, lateral range, all those different things, but John, you know the one thing about him is he’s a big man, he works extremely hard and he is physical, he’s smart, and to be able to move from tackle to guard and not have played it since camp, again is a testament to him and his work ethic.”
How did the offensive line do against the 49ers?
“They played well. You know, the one thing that I was encouraged by was their ability to get some push. I mean a lot of it was zones that we ran with David (Johnson), we were creating some movement at the point of attack and there’s no question that David had some big lanes to run in, and again, the guys who stepped in played well; Earl Watford, and Wetzel we talked about. D.J. Humphries continues to do things in the run game that’s just amazing athletically, some of the stuff he does on the second level. Again, we know on pass protection, that’s an area where he as to continue to hone is craft, but on the run game, I mean the way he can roll his hips and his ability to change direction and mirror in spaces is exceptional.”
Do you have an update on Carson Palmer?
“Yes, he’s still in the concussion protocol and you know, that’s obviously something as an organization we take extremely serious, but I will tell you by all indications, the communication that I’ve had with Carson this past weekend is he’s feeling great and hopefully he’ll be cleared and ready to go this week.”
What does Palmer do while he’s in concussion protocol?
“Well I think that’s a better question for the trainers and the doctors, but I do know that they run a number of tests. One on site and off site here, and then I know they’ll gradually work him back in with some type of leg exercise and then basically see how he responds to any type of light exercise as you progress. So it’s a pretty detailed (process), which it should be, because of the significance of concussions. So again, moving forward, I think that the good news is Carson’s feeling great by all indications.”
How do you think Drew Stanton played in this game?
“I thought Drew played solid, and you know to me, Drew, knowing him as a person and knowing his attention to detail, he’s just a winner. Some of the throws unfortunately that he made were dropped passes, which I thought again was another concern when you looked at the tape, you know we had some third down conversions that were just flat out drops and that’s disappointing to me knowing the talent that we have at wide receiver. So, Drew put us in the right positions, he makes the right throws, and again, he’s the ultimate competitor as well, so there’s no doubt that we have confidence in him.”
What are your feelings and what comes to your mind about Michael Floyd?
“I think consistency, and it’s more about, we know what kind of player Michael can be, he’s just got to regain some confidence and get back out there and make some plays, because he is the type of guy when he gets hot, he can be a difference maker for us, so hopefully we’ll get him started early. You know it’s kind of like when John Brown started the season and came off the concussion issue, he started a little slow and then I think he was 10 for 144 against the Rams. You just got to sometimes get a hot hand in this game and there’s no doubt Michael has the ability to do that.”
Do you worry about the amount of touches David Johnson gets?
“Well it’s kind of a double-edged sword because one part of it is you want the ball in the guy’s hands because he is a playmaker and he’s got a unique skill set, but at the same time I know you have to monitor his touches and be concerned about the wear and tear. The good news is Andre Ellington came in there the other night and did a nice job giving him some plays, and that sort of thing. We’ll continue to monitor that, and I know Bruce (Arians) does a nice job of substituting during the game.”
How do you feel about Thursday Night Football?
“Well I actually liked it this week because No. 1 the win, and No. 2 it gave me an opportunity to decompress a little bit this weekend. I had a chance to get over to ASU and scout a little bit, and see that big win against UCLA, that was a nice break for me and to see the improvements they made to the facilities there with the stadium and some of the things that are going on. Ray Anderson’s done such a fantastic job there and it was an exciting win for them.”
What are your concerns about the defensive miscues?
“We actually did minimize some of that this past game, and the one thing that was encouraging is I thought we played extremely fast and physical on defense, particularly against the run. I thought our guys were flying around and we played physical and did a nice job in the run game. Again, in the passing game, there were a few issues in the back end and I think we just got to clean up and it’s probably about communication and making sure we’re all on the same page. The bright spot is we’re making strides and we have the right kinds of guys in terms of character to improve that.”
How do you feel about the 2016 season right now?
“Well certainly a challenge, and we faced adversity early on because of all the expectations for this football team, but you know as I look at it and I see the kind of talent we have and the type of leadership, I’m still confident that it’s going to be a special year, and we have a chance to do some great things.”
How did Tyrann Mathieu play returning to the box?
“I though he was solid. He did get picked on that one route in the red zone, and he’ll continue to grow and get better as his knee gets healthier. Again, he’s such a passionate guy that he places a lot of pressure on himself, but again I think that he was excited to get back in the box and get into the fray, sort of speak.”
What do you want to see against the Jets?
“More consistency, you know, same thing we talked about week-to-week. It’s one thing to go out and play hard and physical, but you have to play smart as well, and to me that’s the difference when you watch games on Sundays when there are losses and teams make mistakes. It’s one thing to play physical and fast, but you have to play smart football, minimize turnovers and those sort of things. If we can come out and play our game, it’s going to be a fun atmosphere Monday night, that’s what’s exciting to me, is Monday Night Football, our fans have been bringing it. There’s no question in my mind Monday night will be no different.”