Yesterday I was a guest on SB Nation Radio’s “The Break” with host Brian Barrett and producer Chris Tubbs. While on the air I explicated my theory of Michael Bidwill’s vision to draft Kyler Murray with the #1 pick wherein Bidwill had received the endorsement of former Giants’ GM Ernie Accorsi, the “QB Guy.”
After the show, Chris Tubbs kindly sent me Brian Barrett’s follow-up remarks (after I was off the air) and this is what Brian said:
”The Arizona Cardinals were the worst team in the NFL last year. And what did we see in Cleveland? A guy like Baker Mayfield who brought a ton of excitement to the Cleveland Browns...
”And they are now one of the most popular teams in the NFL, they have 4 prime time games this season...there has been a lot of attention on Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns...
”And then you look at it from an owner’s perspective and Michael Bidwill is like OK, I am trying to win football games, but I am also trying to create a buzz for the organization...
”So how can I get someone like Baker Mayfield? Oh, wait, Kyler Murray, that’s guy’s at Oklahoma, oh, he just won the Heisman Trophy, let me bring him in and we can create a lot of buzz because Kyler Murray is the biggest story of the draft, he was drafted in the 1st round of the MLB draft, but now the guy is the most popular player leading into the NFL draft, he is a super star athlete, oh, having the #1 pick, I can get that guy....
”So now I need a coach who would be willing to take Murray with the number one pick and coach him, so Kliff Kingsbury was the second part of it. With Kliff Kingsbury, you know that his offense will take advantage of the strengths of Kyler Murray...Michael Bidwill is saying I want to bring more intrigue and star power to my organization by adding a QB with super star potential and pair him with one of the most innovative offensive minds in football...”
”This makes total sense, it makes complete sense that Michael Bidwill was making these calls, because if you think about the general manager, Steve Keim, think about it, why would Steve Keim want to hire a guy like Kliff Kingsbury---I’m not saying he doesn’t like Kliff Kingsbury---but if you think about it from Steve Keim’s perspective, last year he traded away a 3rd and 5th round draft picks for the right to move up to pick Josh Rosen, so he is essentially saying i really believe in Josh Rosen because I am willing to give up picks because I think this guy is the future of the organization, so I don’t care about giving up a 3rd and 5th round pick because I am saying, I am putting my neck out there and I am saying this guy is our franchise QB...
”So why would Steve Keim, the next year, when he has the number one overall selection, hire a coach that he knows could disagree with him about Josh Rosen? Or a coach who would basically say I would rather have Kyler Murray as my QB than Josh Rosen as my QB. If Steve Keim was making the decision on hiring Kliff Kingsbury, it wouldn’t make any sense, right? The decision to hire Kingsbury would have to come from higher above and that’s why it would have to come from Michael Bidwill, who, as team president, is running the day to day in Arizona, with his father being the owner....
”It would make total sense because think about it, if I was Steve Keim, would I want to do that? Because, think about it, we’ve been slamming him, because Steve Keim looks like an idiot, he looks like an idiot right now because he hired a coach in Steve Wilks, who he then fired, he drafted a QB in the 1st round last year who gave up a 3rd and 5th round pick for and now he’s going to draft another QB in the 1st round this year---so this is why it makes total sense the this wasn’t his decision; that he’s not the one who wanted to do this. It was Michael Bidwill, who is above Steve Keim...
”So what was Steve Keim going to do? He’s not going to say to his boss, no I can’t do that---it’s not like a lot of people are saying I really need Steve Keim as my GM right now, because Steve Keim, since they lost Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer, was not able to put this thing back together. Steve Keim is also dealing with stuff off the field. He had a DUI, he was suspended and then he goes and fires a coach he hired after one season. So Steve Keim was like ok if this is what Michael Bidwill wants to do well then that’s what Michael Bidwill wants to do.”
If I had still been on the air with Brian Barrett I would respond by saying the following:
* Thank you, Brian, for piggybacking on the theory and for understanding some key aspects of the logic behind it.
* As for Michael Bidwill, he accepted the blame and responsibility for the hiring and firing of Steve Wilks. The Arizona media had been reporting that Steve Keim’s first choice last year was James Bettcher with Mike McCoy as OC, but Bidwill pushed for Wilks because he wanted a clean break from Bruce Arians’ coordinators. In fairness to Steve Keim, if the media rumors were true, then the Wilks hire was not his first choice.
* Now---did Keim do enough as GM last year to help Wilks succeed? That’s a story for another day.
* You are right, Steve Keim does not look good in all of this---but---what helped him embrace Kliff Kingsbury as head coach was the good rapport he built with Kingsbury through various scouting trips to Texas A&M and Texas Tech over the past several years. i would guess that Keim’s hope all along has been to convince Kingsbury that because of Kingsbury’s success in developing all different types of QBs, that he can win with Josh Rosen.
* Kingsbury now finds himself in a couple of tough spots because of wanting to please Steve Keim, the GM who hired him. The other is the awkward situation of working these past two weeks with Josh Rosen, knowing that in his heart of hearts, his first choice is Kyler Murray, a player he has built a six year rapport with and a player who already has thousands of reps in hi style of offense. And there’s the awkwardness of knowing that Rosen could soon be traded.
* Why has Michael Bidwill allowed Josh Rosen to twist in the wind these past three months? Bidwill knows that by keeping his cards close to the vest, he can curry favor with the NFL, which can help him and the team down the road with scheduling and even with obtaining future NFL Super Bowl venue commitments for State Farm Stadium.
* The key part of this theory lies in the very reason why Michael Bidwill went outside of the building to reach out to Ernie Accorsi. Bidwill promised Patrick Peterson back at the trading deadline when Peterson wanted out, that big changes would be made this year. Baker Mayfield was the Cardinals’ #1 player on their draft board last year. To see former coach Freddie Kitchens do so well with Baker Mayfield and to see the kind of buzz that their player to coach relationship garnered, encouraged Bidwill to look closely for this type of player and coach bond---and he had to look no farther than to Mayfield’s sensational successor at Oklahoma.
* One would imagine that Bidwill was curious to know Ernie Accorsi’s thoughts on Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury---and it seems clear that whatever Accorsi said to Bidwill, it was a confirmation and the green light that Bidwill eagerly wanted.
* One would imagine too that Bidwill asked Accorsi, a long-time GM, about whether to hang on to Steve Keim and that Accorsi thought he should stick with Keim as long as Keim would buy into the plan---which is why Steve Keim slipped a little when he said at the Combine that “yes, Josh Rosen is our QB, right now, for sure.” Keim then had to try to take the ambiguity out of his “for now” phrasing afterward, because Keim knows Bidwill’s plan is to take the suspense right up to night one of the 2019 NFL Draft when the Cardinals are on the clock and the whole NFL universe is watching.
* Bidwill has been talking up Josh Rosen for two main reasons: (1) to let the NFL know that the Cardinals value Josh Rosen’s talent; (2) because, if the Cardinals do not get an offer for Rosen that they feel is fair, they can do what other teams do with good depth at QB---they can develop it and get good return on it at a future time. It was another perhaps interesting twist of the tongue when Bidwill said at Kliff Kingsbury’s introductory press conference how valuable Kingsbury could be “in the development of a future franchise QB.” if Bidwill was sold on Rosen then why wouldn’t he have said “our franchise QB”?
* But the fact that Bidwill reached out to Accorsi is telling about where Bidwill is getting his most valuable and trusted advice.
* This draft needs to go very well for Steve Keim---and Kliff Kingsbury and Vance Joseph have said that Keim has been asking for their input on the prospects---which is a good thing.
* Michael Bidwill not only thanked and lauded Ernie Accorsi for his support in the hiring process of Kliff Kingsbury, he also thanked and lauded Adrian Wilson for his influence in the decision. It is quite possible that if Michel Bidwill is not pleased with this draft and the team’s growth in 2019 that Adrian Wilson is the new GM in wait. Bidwill likes his GMs to be home grown.
* Here’s the gist---as we know Steve Keim has not been hitting home runs to date with his 1st round picks. Well, if the Murray/Kingsbury theory with Ernie Accorsi’s blessing is correct, Michael Bidwill has already made the choice for the #1 pick. Michael Bidwill is taking this pick into his own hands.