Keim Time: Lack of consistency from stars is ‘very alarming to me’
The Cardinals entered their matchup with the Miami Dolphins still in the playoff race.
They left South Beach all but out of it.
The Cardinals struggled in a rain-soaked game, falling behind only to tie things up late in the fourth quarter and ultimately lose on a field goal as time expired, 26-23.
It was a game that very much summed up the team’s season, with moments of excellence usually being drowned out by sloppiness and poor play.
As he does every Monday, Cardinals GM Steve Keim joined Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM to talk about the game and his team going forward.
As you saw the film, what frustrated you the most?
“I would just say that the turnovers were obviously and issue but the one thing that I struggle with is the missed tackles — quite a few missed tackles, quite a few missed tackles, especially on the long run by Jarvis Landry, the run after catch. Critical errors like that get you beat, and we’ve talked about it all year long, the attention to detail and the little things are what have hurt us most, and something as simple as tackling, which sometimes for me it’s about the will to want to get the man on the ground. Although there is some technique involved, as we know. But that was a disappointing for me. I knew we’d be playing with a patchwork offensive line, and at times they played OK and there were times where a couple guys struggled, particularly on the right side.”
Does the feeling of losing in Miami compare at all to the 58-0 loss to the Seahawks in 2012?
“No. I think that was just flat out embarrassment in Seattle, and this is a different situation. This is the constant frustration that you have a hard time putting your finger on some of the issues as a whole. It starts with attention to detail, and at the end of the day, a lot of guys — and we’ve talked about this in the past — that we were counting on to make big plays, have not showed up with any consistency. And that’s also very alarming to me.”
Do you feel like you have a handle on what’s wrong with the team or will you need the offseason?
“I have a pretty good feel. The one thing about it is I really do feel like our core talent on offense and defense is in place. There’s some guys who I still have high expectations for and look forward to moving on with. But at the end of the day, the one thing that Coach and I will sit down and do, and I can guarantee you this, after the season — and these last three games are critical, for a lot of reasons — number one, I want to identify who loves it; which guys are passionate about the game and who are our top competitors. So those are the things that we’re looking for. Because if you’re not going to compete and you don’t play with passion, you’re not going to be on this roster in 2017.”
When you watch the film from Miami, how much do you consider weather conditions in your evaluation?
“It would be an excuse because the other team has to play in the same conditions and they have to block and tackle and catch, just like we do. There were too many dropped balls, too many turnovers. At the end of the day, the tackling was an issue for me. I will say this: the one thing I’m proud of is there’s no doubt at one point in the game in the fourth quarter where we could have mailed it in, and our team did fight back from adversity and they gave it everything they had. It’s unfortunate we came up short.”
Did anyone stand out in a positive way against the Dolphins?
“Deone Bucannon, I thought, played extremely well. Prior to the concussion, D.J. Humphries was maybe having one of his better games — he continues to improve at left tackle, which is exciting to see. There were a few guys who came in because of the all injuries we incurred, and Sio Moore did a few nice things as a linebacker, and so did Brandon Williams. He came in and has shown some maturation from earlier on in the year. Still have high hopes for him.”
What’s gone wrong on special teams?
“That’s a great question. Again, guys that we counted on not getting it done. It certainly starts with the snapper, and that was a situation earlier in the year and we made the change. I thought that Aaron (Brewer) has, for the most part, done a pretty good job — other than, and I don’t know how much the conditions had to do with it — but he had a few rough snaps the other night. But Chandler (Catanzaro) still has to make kicks and he has to show more consistency, the same goes with Drew Butler. Those positions will obviously be evaluated and if we need to make changes, we’ll do it.”
Have you had any conversations with Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer about possible retirement?
“I know Coach is coming back and he’s excited for next year, he and I had a long conversation about the roster and the team moving forward. As far as it goes with Carson and Larry, you would have to ask those guys directly, but based on the conversations I had with both of them in training camp, I would be surprised if they didn’t play next year.”
How do you go about evaluating your coaches and what have you seen this season?
“It’s game-by-game and those are conversations that are private between Bruce and I. But I will say this: These guys all work their tails off. I think they’re very good teachers. I do have a concern of I’m on the field so I see them teaching our players certain technique, certain things schematically, and our players are still making mistakes. So, again, that could fall on me because we have to make sure that we’re signing and drafting smart football players who can process and retain information.”
Who is stronger in holding people accountable, coaching staffs or the locker room?
“I don’t think there’s any question that it’s the locker room. To me, whenever you have a championship team, you can always look and realize that locker room polices itself. But at the same time, to be an effective leader and to hold guys accountable, to me, you have to be out there making plays. It’s not just a rah-rah thing because guys will tune that out. You have to also be, not only a motivator, you have to hold your teammates accountable, but you have to be producing. There could be an issue with that factor for us. As I talked about earlier, expecting guys to be big-time playmakers this year who have fallen short.”
How much do you think having extensive exit interviews will help figure out what went wrong?
“That’s always helpful for me, the more communication I have with the guys at the end of the year can help me, again, put my finger on where some of the issues were. I’m not down in the locker room all the time. There’s no doubt that my goal is to put 53 guys in that locker room who all care and are passionate about the game. So if there are times that I find out that certain guys don’t put in the time to prepare and film study and all those things, we will certainly move on quickly. Because it’s hard enough to win in this game, let alone with guys who don’t care.”
What did you see on film from Chandler Jones in Miami?
“I didn’t think it was one of Chandler’s better games. I think he has had a phenomenal impact on this football team, as a whole. His ability to not only create pressure, but to make big plays for us. Sack-fumbles and those sort of things. But I didn’t think yesterday was one of Chandler’s better games.”
Final thought, offered by Keim
“One thing I do want to say, as disappointing as this season has been, and it has not lived up to our expectations, I do want to say thank you to our fans. Doug, I don’t think you were there, but Ron can probably share with you how many Cardinal fans made it to South Florida to support us. Through wins and losses, it truly meant a lot to me and this organization for their support.”