My theory has been that Michael Bidwill wanted Bruce Arians to retire—-and Steve Keim, BA’s “little brother” did not.
Bidwill’s chief concern was BA’s health—-but there also may have been some lingering unease about BA’s hubris and how it affected key decisions about BA’s staff and the players.
Keim stayed as true as he could to BA and found himself in the unenviable position of being the liaison between the owner and the head coach. Thus, ultimately Keim had to defer to Bidwill’s wishes.
Curiously, despite their differing opinions regarding Arians, on the heels of Arians’ retirement, Bidwill rewarded Keim with a second contract extension, even though Keim still had the 2018 season and an option year in 2019 left on his first extension.
During the head coaching search there were local rumors from insider sources that Keim wanted to go with BA’s recommendation—-which was to promote defensive coordinator James Bettcher to head coach.
On the other hand, Bidwill wanted a clean break from BA and the start of a fresh, new chapter where the head coach could teach and support the high profile draft picks with “different personalities” that BA and his staff had shunned.
Keim wanted Bettcher as head coach and Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator.
Thus, a compromise was reached—-Bidwill got his man in Steve Wilks and Keim got his choice for OC in Mike McCoy. As we know, McCoy was high on Steve Keim’s short list of head coaching candidates back in 2013.
Sitting at #15 in the NFL Draft, the general feeling was that the Cardinals would draft a QB in the 1st round, but at #15 the QB would likely need 1-2 years of development before taking the reins.
Keim made a highly lucrative offer to UFA QB Kirk Cousins, but Cousins was zeroed in on the Vikings. Keim made inquiries about what it would take to trade for the Eagles’ QB2 Nick Foles. When the tag on Foles was too pricey, Keim focued his attention on oft-injured UFA QB Sam Bradford. To land Bradford Keim had to pay a handsome $20M ($15M guaranteed) for a player who played one game in 2017. To secure veteran depth at the position Keim signed fellow NC State Wolfpack alum, Mike Glennon to a 2 year deal.
Keim’s other splash free agent signing was UFA RG Justin Pugh who was given a hefty $9M a year contract coming off an injury-riddled season with the Giants.
Keim convinced oft- injured LG Mike Iupati to take a pay cut and then signed veteran UFA T Andre Smith who had lost his starting job in Cincinnati. At WR, Keim’s top signing was UFA Brice Butler. Per McCoy wishes, Keim signed UFA FB Derrick Coleman.
Keim then spent virtually the entire draft feathering the nest for McCoy’s offense. Five of the six draftees were offensive players: QB Josh Rosen, WR Christian Kirk, C Mason Cole, RB Chase Edmonds and T Korey Cunningham.
Keim’s attention to the defense was minimal by comparison. He deemed that LB Deone Bucannon was worthy of his $8.7M 5th year option—-despite the fact that Bucannon was coming off two injury-riddled sub-standard seasons where last year he bottomed out with a PFF grade of 35.0 (ranked #86 LB). Keim had $8.7M reasons to believe that Steve Wilks could turn Bucannon around.
Keim re-signed Josh Bynes to be the Mike LB. He decided not to make a strong offer to CB Tramon Williams (87.5 PFF grade, #11 CB) who had a superb season opposite Patrick Peterson in 2017. Instead, he traded for CB Jamar Taylor of the Browns. With DE Markus Golden still in rehab coming back fro a torn ACL, Keim signed DE Benson Mayowa. The one defensive player Keim selected in the draft, CB Chris Campbell (6th round) did not make the team.
Even though Keim was able to move up to #10 to take QB Josh Rosen, Keim was agog in anticipation of what Sam Bradford would be able to achieve in Mike McCoy’s offense. Keim referred to Bradford’s skills as “elite.” In essence, Keim wished to treat Rosen as the 1-2 year project QB despite the fact that Rosen was being billed as the most NFL ready QB in the 2018 draft.
Even though Steve Wilks insisted from the get-go that “all jobs were open to competition”—-this did not jive with Keim’s plan for Bradford—-and subsequently Rosen spent most of the pre-season on the sidelines being treated with kid gloves.
Then came Keim’s DUI arrest and with it some very swift and emphatic admonitions and sanctions from Michael Bidwill.
Things seemed to going well for Michael Bidwill and Steve Wilks while Keim was serving his suspension.
But once Keim returned and the season started with such a dud at home versus the Redskins that the team was treated with thunderous boos at half time—-as the peels of Keim’s off-season plan onion started coming off, it became more and more clear that Keim had grossly misfired on his major decisions, staring with OC Mike McCoy, QB Sam Bradford, LB Deone Bucannon and the retaining of K Phil Dawson.
Keim’s 11th hour decision to give RB David Johnson a 3 year $39-45M contract extension has been looking like yet another poorly advised premature 2nd contract—-this on the heels of having to cut Tyrann Matthieu after he failed to deliver on his big payday. Is this really happening again?
Keim’s lack of help personnel-wise for Steve Wilks’ defense was such that Wilks abandoned his 43 base in favor of going exclusively with his nickel so as to put his best 11 players on the field.
One can imagine that these failures are not sitting well with Michael Bidwill. The epitome of the failures was hearing Keim say that Sam Bradford “did not bring the elite aspects to the position” that the team anticipated.
It certainly is making Bidwill’s choice of Steve Wilks as head coach look like a dubious one.
To Steve Wilks’ credit and sense of urgency, yesterday when asked if Mike McCoy’s tenure as OC was in jeopardy, Wilks manned up and said that all of the coaches jobs were in jeopardy, “including mine if we don’t win.”
One has to wonder just how much of Wilks’ struggles have to do with Steve Keim’s initial plan and subsequent absence due to his suspension.
That is a determination that Michael Bidwill must ultimately make.
if you were Michael Bidwill, what would you think and what would you do?
Meanwhile, Keim’s purported top choice James Bettcher is struggling as the Giants’ defensive coordinator. The Giants’ main issue—-poor tackling, particularly from some of the star players. Sound familiar?