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Mike on a Mission

The Arizona Cardinals president seems to be on a mission heading into this new era of Cardinals football.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals-Training Camp Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

For those of us who thought that in the absence of Cardinals’ GM Steve Keim, it was now “Terry Time”---it appears the leadership of the GM’s duties are being assumed by Michael Bidwill, in close coordination with Terry McDonough, Mike Disner and Steve Wilks. Bidwill confidently avows that “there is no drop-off” because they have a keen sense of what moves Steve Keim would make. That’s quite a significant and bold statement from Bidwill.

* Bidwill’s treatment of Steve Keim’s extreme DUI has been just as he said it would be: swift and consequential. As Bidwill keeps confirming, “there is no reason in today’s world for anyone to drink and drive.” On the one hand, Bidwill’s stern treatment of this situation sends the strongest message possible to all employees of the Cardinals. On the other, in my opinion, it is an indication of the ongoing frustration Bidwill feels about a growing history of failed “reward contracts” (tearing up existing contracts with 1 or 2 years remaining for lucrative extensions) that the organization has given the last few decades---(see Jake Plummer, Ken Whisenhunt, Anquan Boldin, Daryl Washington, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Tyrann Mathieu---and now Steve Keim---twice).

* One could reasonably assume that Bidwill is now second guessing his decision to reward Keim for a third time. Going into this season, Bidwill had two more years on Steve Keim’s second contract as GM---this year and a team option year for 2019. Instead, as a vow of confidence that the Cardinals’ recent woes were not of Keim’s doing, Bidwill ripped up Keim’s second contract and gave him a third. With Keim getting arrested for DUI so quickly into his new contract, it has a similar feel to when Carson Palmer blew out his ACL a mere two days after signing a lucrative multi-year extension in November of 2014. This is crazy bad luck...but, of course, in Keim’s case, as Bidwill has emphatically stressed, it was inexcusable and thoroughly avoidable.

* There remains no doubt in my mind that Michael Bidwill was the driving force behind Bruce Arians’ retirement. Bidwill had seen and heard enough. Further proof of this was Bidwill’s exculpatory support of Keim. But the greatest proof was in Bidwill’s hiring of Steve Wilks, who is the polar opposite of Arians. From day one Wilks has been so meticulously versed in the immediate areas the Cardinals need to address about the culture, about the philosophy of the coaching, about practice and game preparations and about the style of play---that it was impossible not to perceive Michael Bidwill’s blueprint and mission in all of this.

* I believe that in the new search for a head coach process, one which Bidwill vowed to be very deliberate in executing, he presented the candidates with his exact expectations of what he wants in a head coach and coaching staff. This may not have sit well with some of the early front runners like Pat Shurmur and Mike Munchak and is likely the reason why Munchak wouldn’t even come to Arizona for a second interview. It also may be the reason why Steve Wilks decided not to interview with the Colts, as he found himself in lock-step with Bidwill and Bidwill’s coaching criteria. The criteria appears to be tailor made for Steve Wilks and the staff he hired. We saw a highly relieved and almost giddy Bidwill following Arians’ retirement press conference (as opposed to a glum looking Keim)---and then we saw an ebullient Bidwill when he introduced Steve Wilks as the new head coach.

* What’s fascinating at this point is how excited Michael Bidwill is in directing the action from the top. Clearly, he is the man in charge. His vision of where he wants the organization to go is crystalizing before our eyes. Thus, Michael Bidwill is 100% correct when he says that even though Keim is not in the building, “there is no drop-off.” While Bidwill may not go as far as running the show the way Jerry Jones does in Dallas, there is no question that Michael Bidwill has the thirst and passion to run the organization in the most hands-on way he possibly can. Bidwill is at a point in his career where he believes he has the prescience, commitment and vision it takes to bring a championship to Arizona. Therefore, it must have been manna to Bidwill’s ears yesterday when he heard Patrick Peterson say that “there’s a much different feel already to this training camp.”