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“Let’s Make A Deal” with the Cardinals’ General Manager

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How the Monty Hall Problem and “Let’s Make A Deal” impacts the Cardinals’ future at GM

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There’s an old game show called “Let’s Make a Deal” that introduced game show host Monty Hall to American viewers and he’s often credited with what’s called the “Monty Hall Problem”.

In it you have three doors. Two of them contain goats and one a car. A contestant picks a door and the show host opens up one of the doors that they did NOT pick and does NOT have the car. They then ask if the contestant wants to switch their choice.

Seeing as they have 50/50 odds, the majority of contestants stick with their “gut feeling”, only to groan as their door is opened and they more often than not see the car located in the other door.

What is this sorcery? And what does it have to do with the Arizona Cardinals?

I’ll explain before laying out the three potential doors at GM that the Arizona Cardinals will have to choose this offseason.

First, the Trick:

The trick is simply a numbers game. The contestant THINKS they have a 50-50 chance but really they don’t, as they really had only a 13 chance to pick the correct door from the start and a 23 chance of getting it wrong. You could even look at it like if there were a million doors, you picked one at random and then 999,998 of them were opened to reveal they had no car.

...Did you actually pick the correct one at the start?

This paradox is often seen too on Deal or No Deal where contestants are offered a chance to switch out their final case for a different one that might be more valuable. Out of some 25-30 something cases, did a contestant REALLY pick the one with $500,000 to start with? Or when you know that you have either $500,000 or $50 left, the odds should be stacked against your case?

Meaning that if you view the “Monty Hall problem” as a 3 door problem, not as a 2 door one, making the switch actually BENEFITS you more often than not. So people make the switch more often, right?

Wrong.

Only per wikipedia, about 16% of people switched from their original door, thinking that their odds had improved. The reason seems to be that they trust their GUT INSTINCT and the past experience of another door being wrong.

And likewise, that’s the decision that Michael Bidwill and the Arizona Cardinals will have to make. Sure, it’s not going to be as lucky as the game show might in hitting on the position, but I’d argue that, like with the puzzle above, that change can be good more often than not.

Here are their 3 choices in Door #1, #2 and #3 at their general manager position:

Door #1: Keep Steve Keim

Door #2: Promote GM from Within

Door #3: Hire from outside

Let’s break them down:

Door #1: Keep Steve Keim

Some would argue that this is already out the door, and I wouldn’t blame them. Keim’s been trending on social media and on the radio in all the wrong ways this week after a huge loss to the LA Rams (again) brought the Cardinals’ lack of talent back to the forefront.

Honestly?

I don’t think it’s as bad or would sink the Cardinals as many might think it could be.

It’s not my favorite choice, still. But it’s a valid one. Keim’s been known for a few things throughout his tenure that have resulted in failure in the following areas:

  • Lack of productive 1st round hits in the draft
  • Inability to build a consistently solid offensive line outside of overpaying in free agency
  • Spending bigger on aging veterans on short term deals to lure them away from other teams
  • Not addressing the quarterback position long-term without forcing a younger player into a rough situation
  • Not finding a complement or successor for Larry Fitzgerald
  • Letting productive players like John Brown, Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson, Calais Campbell and Markus Golden walk to experience career revival elsewhere

Yikes. That’s rough, indeed.

But one thing to remember is that while past results CAN indicate future successes or failures, it doesn’t have to. We saw it this last draft in which the Cardinals found Byron Murphy and while they did bring in defensive coaches to indicate a desire to draft Nick Bosa, they ended up with Kyler Murray and a solid overall draft from the look of it (if not spectacular).

And likewise, I don’t think that it’s a complete disaster if Keim’s services are retained for another season. After all, the moves that he seems likely to make at this point would be to:

  • Pay defensive players to find gaps at LB, Safety, DL
  • Re-Sign guy like Budda or Humphries
  • Work out potential long-term deal or trade for Patrick Peterson

All of those things are something that ANY general manager could (not would) probably do in the Cardinals’ position, given that they are set for next year with Kyler Murray at QB and Kliff Kingsbury at HC...there’s holes everywhere and plenty of money to fix it with.

And it’s kinda clear who’s played well and who hasn’t. The issue?

It’s that there’s SO many of those holes to fill and that Keim’s the result of how this team’s gone from looking like a contender to failing to “reload” or “retool” every year despite saying and believing that they’re a talented team.

The Rams loss sums that up. “Yikes” is all I could say.

In that case, I don’t think fans should be switching off games as long as Keim is retained at GM because there should be brighter days ahead...but I wouldn’t blame them as they likely feel that that door has been opened and inside it was nothing but a goat.

That’s what it feels like with Steve Keim...and it’s why I think the noise is loud enough that there will be a change coming.

Now, what are the other two options, assuming that the “goat” has been revealed?

Door #2: Promote Harris or A Dub from within

There are two potential GM candidates already within the Cardinals’ organization should they fire Steve Keim: Adrian Wilson and Quentin Harris.

Harris has 12 years experience, moving up the ranks from a scout all the way to the Director of Pro Scouting for the past 6 years, and finally now is the Player Personnel director and #2 man below Steve Keim.

Adrian Wilson, however, is far more intriguing in a few ways, as we’ve talked about on Revenge of the Birds.

He quickly rose up the rank and is now technically the 3rd highest seat in the organization after 5 years of him quickly adapting to the scouting life and bringing a lot of credit from Michael Bidwill in the hiring of a guy like Kliff Kingsbury.

But there’s an interesting catch.

Both were inside of the Cardinals’ organization for a number of years (Wilson only stepped out for a preseason with the New England Patriots before he ended up retiring) and haven’t really been in any different places, and have been part of Steve Keim’s regime for a long time. Wilson, to that degree, was scouted by Keim from his alma mater and is close to him like a friend. Keim even shed a tear having to cut Wilson from the team when he took over in 2019.

So let’s assume that this would be the original choice for Michael Bidwill if it’s been revealed that of the three doors, Steve Keim is NOT it.

The answer is—will you see a big change FROM that goat (bleeeeat)? If both have been inside the organization, like how we see with people who make that choice, there’s an emotional aspect to it.

Sure, you might be right with the hire (Steve Keim certainly was for a few years to start his career with the Cardinals) but what if you just go ahead and make the moves that Keim was already going to make with a few positive tweaks?

In short—what if “Keim” and “the Cardinals” are closer than most think?

If the Cardinals want to sign DJ Humphries with or without Steve Keim, does firing him really do much more than improve in a few positive directions while glossing over a few negatives?

Negatives like...the Cardinals not identifying good offensive linemen in the draft whether it was Whiz/Arians or McCoy/Kingsbury calling the offense? The lack of a partner for Larry Fitzgerald after Anquan Boldin left and Michael Floyd fell off? Them signing older running backs to BIG deals?

Do we know that there will be a lot of positive gains? Maybe there will be. But like keeping your original door, there’s an issue...and that’s why I think the answer should be:

Door #3: Hire a new GM from outside the organization

I believe that, tying back to the Monty Hall problem, that the Cardinals should choose Door #3.

Not only because if you know Keim is a “goat” but also I think that switching away from an internal hire gives you a MUCH better job of hitting.

You have your pick of the litter from all sorts of external scouts and personnel who are on the rise or have been in line to potentially be a solid general manager. Doesn’t mean they WILL be, but there’s a better chance to pick from the pool than from inside the organization, and I’d argue that’s the way it should be.

Sure, there will be some fans who will question or argue “What if they wanna dump Kliff and Kyler though?” Which is kind of a fear-based approach. And it’s a good point: the GM might not want to have a coach “forced” on them.

But the alternative, like the door problem, is just as true. It might be there’s people who WANT to work with Kliff and Kyler and rebuild the roster.

And I think that a fresh voice into the organization might be the only way to really change or make progress.

-If the new GM says “I think we can do better than re-signing Humphries” and they can find a better long-term tackle, isn’t that worth it?

-If the new GM looks at a declining Patrick Peterson and decides to move for a fresh rebuild versus try to “force” a lifetime Card with declining skills, isn’t that worth it?

-If the new GM goes “I don’t care about player value for a declining back like David Johnson and the cap room is more important” so they trade him and a pick to add in a veteran, isn’t that worth it?

Suffice to say, this could also be true of an internal promotion.

But I believe the odds of truly changing the organization for the BETTER are truly outside the organization. And some of the names that are out there have a lot of positives:

  • Ed Dodds with the Colts, widely considered maybe the best overall scout in the NFL might be a guy to look at
  • Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf are two Browns scouts (neither liked Josh Rosen FWIW) that are considered on the up and up, with Wolf being related to Ron Wolf, a former successful guy who helped build up the Green Bay Packers
  • Will McClay and Nick Caserio are well regarded but might ask for the moon (maybe Bidwill would be willing to give it to them)
  • NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah and ESPN’s Louis Riddick are both well-regarded as talent evaluators, with the former being considered a premier expert in the NFL Draft and evaluating talent, and even has an open book of rankings to look back on...it’s actually pretty good year over year, too. No clue if he’d want to leave for Arizona but...it’s worth pursing.

And for me, while it might feel like a risk for most fans, I think that the odds favor making a change will BRING change. Some won’t change (Adrian Wilson isn’t going anywhere, for example) but other change might be good.

Just like it might not feel right switching away from the “known” to the unknown, I think that’s the way that will be most successful for the Cardinals. Believing that you’ve already gotten it right might be a fallacy for Michael Bidwill.

And if Arizona can have a better chance to hit on a transcendent talent evaluator to pair with Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray...I think that’s a deal worth making.

Don’t you agree, Monty Hall?