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Bidwill’s Vision and Accorsi’s Blessing

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Arizona Cardinals Introduce Kliff Kingsbury - Press Conference Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

One of the most interesting tidbits of information that Michael Bidwill imparted when he introduced Kliff Kingsbury as the Cardinals’ new head coach, was his sincere thanks for the guidance he received from former Colts’, Browns’ and Giants’ GM Ernie Accorsi.

Because Ernie Accorsi drafted John Elway (who refused to sign with the Colts), Bernie Kosar (who led the Browns to four division titles) and Eli Manning (via trade in 2004, who led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins), Accorsi’s nickname is “The Quarterback Guy.”

One of the most interesting reads a football fan can ever lay their eyes on is Ernie Accorsi’s now famous scouting report of Eli Manning in which Accorsi lauded Manning for single-handedly keeping his under-talented Ole Miss team competitive in many of their SEC games. Accorsi lauded Manning’s toughness and smooth throwing delivery. He wrote that Manning has a certain “magic” to his game and that the Giants should trade up to take him in the 2004 NFL Draft....how prophetic!

Which, of course, Accorsi and the Giants did when Manning and his agent, Tom Condon, said he did not want to sign with the San Diego Chargers, who selected him with the #1 pick. The Giants selected Philip Rivers at #4 and then made the swap, giving up their 2004 3rd round pick, their 2005 1st and 5th round picks, which netted the Chargers QB Philip Rivers (8 Pro Bowls), K Nate Keating (2 PBs), LB Shawn Merriman (3 PBs) and T Roman Oben (via trade).

Amazingly, Rivers and Manning are still the starting QBs with the Chargers and Giants today (just as the #3 pick in that 2004 draft, WR Larry Fitzgerald is still with the Cardinals)...and while statistically Rivers has the more impressive numbers (95.6 career QBR to Manning’s 84.1), Rivers has never played in a Super Bowl, while Manning is a 2 time Super Bowl winner and MVP.

When the Cardinals’ Michael Bidwill reached out to Ernie Accorsi to ask for his advice about a new head coaching hire one can imagine that Bidwill and Accorsi shared thoughts about Josh Rosen and perhaps even opinions about the current phenom of college football, 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray.

Even though Accorsi is retired, he still writes up scouting reports and is eager to answer questions about the draft. In fact, Accorsi may have had an impact on the Giants’ selection of RB Saquon Barkley at #2 last year. He has recently been quoted with regard to his belief that the Giants would have been foolish to pass on Barkley, whom Accorsi believes is a sure-fire “Yellow Jacket” talent.

After all, Accorsi hired the Giants’ current GM David Gettleman as his pro personnel director back in 1999 (a role Gettleman maintained over a dozen years until he was hired as the Panthers’ GM in 2013), thus Gettleman was on board when the Giants traded for Eli Manning in 2004, which helps to explain why Gettleman believes Eil still has what to takes to win.

Thus, it would be fascinating to know what Ernie Accorsi had to say about Josh Rosen and Kyler Murray. As previously stated, Accorsi was all-in on the Giants’ drafting of Saquon Barkley over the ideal opportunity to take a QB like Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Josh Rosen.

Interesting too that last year some of the draft pundits believed that Josh Rosen’s most accurate pro comp is Eli Manning. As much as Accorsi may still believe in Eli’s ‘magic”...a friend of mine who is close to the Mara family has been saying for the past two years that the Maras fear that Eli’s best days are well behind him. Thus, the QB need with the Giants appears to be more imminent than what Dave Gettleman has been suggesting.

Recently the New York media has been reporting that the Giants do not have interest in trading for Josh Rosen. This could make one wonder whether Accorsi’s advice to Michael Bidwill was to move on from Rosen for the magic, excitement and boost in ticket sales that Kyler Murray could provide.

Many have speculated that Accorsi advised Bidwill to hire Kliff Kingsbury to help maximize Josh Rosen’s talents---which makes sense if you believe that Kingsbury’s spread offense is Josh’s cup of tea. Yes, after all, as the coach says, Kingsbury will adapt his offense to his QB’s strengths.

But---could it be that Accorsi’s and Bidwill’s conversation centered on the Cardinals’ ability to draft Kyler Murray? And, therefore, when the question was asked about what coaching candidate would be the best fit for Murray, that’s when a discussion of Kliff Kingsbury arose?

NFL Draft pundit, Pete Prisco, recently stated that he has sources who claim that Michael Bidwill was pushing from the get-go for Kyler Murray, but that in recent days the Cardinals have decided to move on from drafting Murray.

Today it was reported by the Arizona media that Bidwill, Keim and Kingsbury are going to spend the next couple of days in order to finalize their draft plans.

I believe it is possible that Michael Bidwill liked and wanted the Prisco leak because with the whole storybook-esque sentiment of a Kingsbury and Murray union, the threat of the Cardinals moving away from Murray would only deepen the drama on draft night and then heighten the merriment of the dream come true outcome.

One guy who probably has a very good sense of how this script is going to play itself out is Ernie Accorsi.

Now, with regard to Accorsi and his on-going allegiance to Dave Gettleman, there could be a conflict on interest n play because the Giants have the draft capital to move up to #1 and the one head coach who stood behind Kyler Murray at Murray’s pro day was the guy in the blue NY cap named Pat Shurmur. It also should be noted that the first team Murray talked about at the Combine was the Giants---maybe he had already been getting a good vibe from them. And recently the Giants welcomed Murray to their facility for a good, long visit.

The last time Accorsi had something to do with trading up for a #1 pick, it helped pave the way for two Super Bowl wins.

But, maybe this time around the team that owns the #1 pick holds on to the pick---and keeps the “magic” for themselves.

Unlike with Eli and Tom Condon’s threat that they would sit out the year in protest if the Chargers picked him at #1, Kyler Murray and his agent (Erik Burkhardt) have every reason to be all-in on the Cardinals and Kliff Kingsbury.

I still believe, for right or for wrong, that Michael Bidwill and the Cardinals, in fear of losing Kliff Kingsbury to the Jets because of his possible preference of working with QB Sam Darnold, managed to pry Kingsbury away from New York with a timely message delivered through Kingsbury’s agent that “all options are open with the #1 pick”---and that this was with Ernie Accorsi’s blessing.