Steve Keim tried to assure Cardinals’ fans and loyal season ticket holders that the 2018 season was an exciting “retool” and not a rebuild.
He gushed about having Sam Bradford and his “elite skillset” behind center, coached by the venerable, time-tested Mike McCoy.
He gushed about having David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald back with a revamped offensive line comprised of 4 former 1st round picks.
He was so confident about the defensive personnel that he only took one defensive player in the draft (a 6th round CB)—-and pushed $8.7M dollars to the middle of the table in the faith that Deone Bucannon would be the leader of the defense.
He was equally confident that last year’s kicking woes for Phil Dawson were an aberration and that Dawson would thrive under new STC Jeff Rodgers.
Keim insisted to Cardinals’ fans and his coaches and players that “you will never hear me use the word rebuild.”
So, while Keim was reassuring Cardinals’ fans that this year’s team would be highly competitive—-the oddsmakers in Las Vegas weren’t buying any of it.
So much so, in fact, that prior to the season, the oddsmakers gave the Cardinals the lowest odds of all 32 teams to win the Super Bowl.
At the time, for many Cardinals’ fans, especially those who'd bought into Keim’s assurances, they were indignant and they felt like Vegas was out of its mind.
For those of us who were very leery and skeptical of Keim’s off-season moves, the Vegas odds seemed like a prescient harbinger.
The reasons for skepticism were stacked up like a pile of burnt flapjacks—-and no amount of butter and maple syrup could make this batch look tasty.
Think about this—-
- Hiring a defensive minded head coach who was going to switch a 3-4 team into a 4-3 team—-but wound up using a 4-2-5 as a base.
- Hiring a defensive coach knowing anyway that the priority in the 2018 NFL Draft was to use the 1st round pick on finally acquiring the long since awaited QBOF.
- Hiring a defensive coach with only one year of experience running an NFL defense—-and with very mixed results. Panthers’ fans were not upset to see Wilks move on.
- Pairing the new HC with an offensive coordinator who got fired in mid-season the previous year by the Broncos—-who also had hired a rookie defensive minded head coach. if that didn't feel like a harbinger—-what would?
- Hiring Mike McCoy may have excited the Mike Jureckis of the world—-but it was so anti-climatic that there was no buzz anywhere from McCoy’s former players about wanting to hop on the Cardinals’ new wagon.
- Spending $20M on a UFA QB whose previous coach said has a “degenerative knee.” Yeah, as in bone on bone. When a GM spends $20M on a player, wouldn’t he want to call and heed the player’s former coach?
- Spending another $4M on a QB2, knowing that he was going to draft the QBOF. And that QB, Mike Glennon, has seen every team he’s been on draft a QB to replace him. Again—-what a harbinger.
- Addressing the severe OL needs, by putting faith in an oft-injured LT who played in only 5 games in 2017, by restructuring a contract with an oft-injured LG who played in 1 game in 2017, by signing a UFA RG to a 5 year $9M a year contract who only played in 8 games in 2017 due to a back injury (and asserting that Pugh was their highest rated UFA guard) and by signing an over the hill RT who started only 8 games in 2017, mostly at guard.
- Neglecting to sign any upgrades at TE, WR, ILB, CB2, K...while saving close to $10M on the salary cap—-for what? All of these positions have remained weak for the Cardinals this year.
This was a retooling that was supposed to fire up the players and the fan base?
There were so many lost opportunities here—-but the main ones? Missing out on hiring an offensive minded head coach (former Cardinals’ QB coach Frank Reich was out there for the talking, for example)—-using the $40+M the GM afforded to the oft-injured or over-the-hill Bradford, Iupati, Pugh, Andre Smith and Deone Bucannon to rebuild the OL into a strength for the QBOF.
Vegas must know a little something about brittle QBs, shoddy offensive lines and GMs who put their faith and money into aging, oft-injured players.
Las Vegas called the Cardinals’ bluff.
And they were right on the money.