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Keim: Backing Himself More Deeply Into A Corner?

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Denver Broncos v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Yesterday, Cardinals’ GM Steve Keim said on Arizona Sports 98.7 that he couldn’t understand “why the questions (about trading CB Patrick Peterson) persist.”

  • SK—-you said the same thing a few months ago about QB Josh Rosen. When you keep draping statements in cloaks—-who is ever going to believe what you say?

Keim asserted: “I have addressed it multiple times, last week or a couple of weeks ago — we are not trading Patrick Peterson. Our stance has simply been, why trade a player in his prime at one of the hardest positions to find, for a maybe or a couple of maybes (with draft picks).”

  • SK—-that player in his prime over the past year has “desperately” asked for a trade, has gone on a social media tirade calling the Cardinals’ front office ‘snakes in the grass,” has gotten busted for a PED violation (4 game suspension) and masking agent (2 game suspension)—-and now upon his return, not only are you shamefully kissing Peterson’s butt—-but when Peterson himself was asked about the chance he would be a Cardinal for life, all he could he say was “I’m here”...which is about as assuring a declaration as the one you made when you said, “Josh is the starter, right now.”
  • SK—-if CB is “one of the hardest positions to find,” why is it that despite your “persisting” of the year to year revolving door at RCB opposite Peterson, you didn't draft a single CB in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. Right up until you drafted CB Byron Murphy in Round 2 (#33) this season, the only CBs you have drafted in your 7 year tenure as GM were: Brandon Williams (#92-3rd, 2016), Harlan Miller (#205-6th, 2016) and Chris Campbell (#182-6th, 2018). That’s the extent of how you and your scouts have addressed this CB position in the draft for 6 years up until this year—-a position that you say is “impossible to find”?
  • If CBs are so “impossible to find, why do the Patriots keep finding them? Here’s how the Patriots have addressed the CB position the past 7 years:

2013—-#83 Logan Ryan

2014—-#206 Jemea Thomas, UCFA Malcolm Butler

2015—-#247 Darryl Roberts, UCFA Justin Coleman

2016—-#60 Cyrus Jones, UCFA Jonathan Jones

2017—-UFA Stephon Gilmore

2018—-#56 Duke Dawson, #243 Keion Crossen, traded for CB Jason McCourty

2019—-#45 Joejuan Williams, #252 Ken Webster, resigned CB Devon McCourty (2 years) and CB Jonathan Jones (3 years)

3—-2nd rounders, 1—-3rd rounders, hit big on 3 UCFAs, hit home runs on Gilmore (UFA) and McCourty (trade).

When you put these Patriots’ CB moves over the past 7 years next to the Cardinals’, the disparity is laughable.

  • SK—-to your credit you made a strong effort to address the CB position this year by signing 30 year old veteran free agent CB Robert Alford to a 3 year contract worth up to $24M, with $13.5M guaranteed and it was tough luck that Alford broke his tibia in training camp while having a very good pre-season.
  • But, had Patrick Peterson not been suspended, chances are pretty strong that you would not have drafted CB Byron Murphy at #33. Not with Alford and Peterson signed for the next two years. Now that Murphy looks very much like the real deal and you can get high value in a trade for Peterson, with Alford returning for 2 more years and Kevin Peterson playing well, how can you dismiss a trade at this key time in the young team’s development?
  • SK—-”for a couple of maybes (draft picks)”—-what kind of confidence does this show in your ability to draft? And—-your trades could actually involve an established player or two—-guys who are already a proven commodity and not a “maybe.”

Steve Keim concluded, “Love what Pat brings to the locker room, love what he brings to the field. Again, those positions are impossible to find — left tackles, quarterbacks, corners. There’s no doubt, in my opinion, he is the best in the National Football League and will remain a Cardinal.”

  • SK—-how can you thoroughly love what Peterson “brings to the locker room” when he, as a 2018 captain, tried ”desperately” to bail out last season? When he publicly trashed the front office the week of the NFL Draft? When he repeatedly has brought a “me first” (only going to work hard at what I want to do) attitude?
  • SK—-how can you completely love what Peterson “brings to the field” when time after time, runs and screens to his side result in huge chunk yard gains and when his tackling effort is conspicuously passive—-look at Peterson’s absurdly poor tackling technique (as pictured above)—-how can those key elements of tackle football play be summarily and categorically ignored?
  • SK—-don’t be surprised if the Giants’ main strategy this week is to see where Peterson is lined up on the play so that QB Daniel Jones can audible which way they are going to hand the ball off to RB Saquon Barkley so they and he can run the ball right at Peterson—-or so they can fake the pass and run a screen to Barkley on Peterson’s side of the field. Opposing teams do this—-and do it a lot. it’s one of the main reasons why Russell Wilson and the Seahawks have owned the Cardinals in Glendale during your tenure as GM. Your defenses have been week on the edge and overly susceptible to huge 20+ yard gains, year in and year out.
  • SK—-under your watch the Cardinals are now on their 4th defensive coordinator in 7 years. Todd Bowles was BA’s guy—-and the best DC the team has had—-but why didn't you step in and convince BA to go with an experienced DC in an “All or Nothing” year when the likes of Wade Phillips, Jim Schwartz and Dick LeBeau were all available? Even though the defense under rookie DC James Bettcher had an epic meltdown in the 2015 NFC Championship game, giving up 49 points, and in 2016 and 2017 when key veteran players like Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson didn’t leave all they had on the field, why, according to Gambo and others who said they had inside intel, did you still want to replace BA as head coach with James Bettcher?
  • SK—-if you really believe that Patrick Peterson is “the best (corner) in the NFL,” does that mean you condone poor tackling, which has been the Achilles heel of your defenses since Todd Bowles moved on? Why is it that the analytics don’t even come close to suggesting that Peterson is the best CB in the NFL? Why is it that Peterson hasn’t been named to the NFL’s All-Pro Team since 2015?
  • There is no doubt that Patrick Peterson is one of the most talented man-to-man cover CBs ever to play the game—-but in today’s NFL, you can’t hide players on defense. This creates a conundrum. When people assert that Peterson “takes away half the field,” that is a total misconception. First of all, Bill Belichick wouldn’t ever go as far as to say that Stephon Gilmore takes away half the field, Yes, Gilmore, is a 1st Team All-Pro and is widely considered the best CB in the NFL today. To take away half the field t a CB would have to be the top cover man and the top edge, run and screen busting tackler in the NFL.
  • Secondly, Belichick doesn’t always do with Gilmore what the Cardinals have done with Peterson, by assigning him almost exclusively to the opponents’ top receiver. Instead, Belichick often has his top CB cover the #2 WR and then double teams and/or brackets the #1 WR with CB2 and a safety. if you want QBs to throw more in the direction of your top CB, this is one way you do it.
  • This takes some of the pressure off of the CB1, so that he can play as aggressively as possible. Ask any great NBA defender and he will tell you, it’s impossible to be super aggressive in defending an All-Star caliber player if the defender can’t rely on the help behind him. Thus, in my opinion, the Cardinals’ defensive coordinators (not named Todd Bowles) have not been using Patrick Peterson to their and his best advantage, partly because of the revolving door and lack of continuity at CB2 at whom so many of the passes have been directed.
  • Plus, some Peterson’s holding penalties are because he knows he has no help over the top, when he suddenly feels like he’s losing leverage or getting beat.
  • The current coverage woes are compounded by the fact that the Cardinals have had so much difficulty covering TEs—-because SK—-you keep drafting smallish safeties who don't match up well physically on TEs—-and because you don’t draft nickel CBs with the size and athleticism it takes to run stride for stride with the likes of T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews, Will Dizzly and Austin Hooper—-and the UFA free agent safeties you sign or claim off waivers have injury histories and get hurt (Tyvon Branch, Josh Shaw) or lack the skill/effort (D.J. Swearinger).
  • So you say Peterson “will remain a Cardinal,” but when asked about a new contract you deflect the question by saying you want to see how he and the team do this week and the next 10 games. There likely will never be a more advantageous time to trade Patrick Peterson. What will the optics be when Peterson holds out next off-season like he did in OTAs this year knowing you are sitting on $80M in cap space? What are you going to do when he tries to force your hand? Demand that he play out the final year of his contract, when it’s perfectly clear that Peterson wants to play for whoever will give him his lucrative 3rd contract—-especially for a team willing to rip up his current deal? Do you think if Peterson holds out next off-season that you can still get as much trade value for him as you can right now? Or—-will you come right out and pay him like “best CB in the NFL”?
  • Unless—-your promotion of Pat P. is just another tactical ruse—-just more calculated rhetoric draped in a cloak—-or maybe this time, covered by a thinly laced veil?