Today, I would like to follow up on my Gatsby article yesterday in which I expressed a concern that the Cardinals’ GM Steve Keim may be doing as much to hinder Kliff Kingsbury than to help him succeed.
First of all, it pains me to be feeling this wary and critical, especially on the advent of a brand new season and such an exciting time in the history of the Arizona Cardinals.
Exciting because the Cardinals are finally trying to catch up to the modern trends in the NFL. The Cardinals actually helped initiate a modern NFL approach to wide open offense in the 1970s when they hired Don Coryell as head coach. But, since the time that Coryell got very upset with the way the Cardinals do their business and happily moved on to San Diego, the Cardinals have, at least in my opinion, not kept up with the times and have not been learning well enough from past mistakes.
I awoke this morning and read Riggodrill’s response to the Gatsby article which i feel compelled to address and would like to answer in full. Riggo wrote:
“It’s always fun to feed the lions at mealtime. It’s easy. I love your writing but every now and then you take advantage of literary freedom and give life to the unknown so it bends your way. I guess we will never know, but it’s all way too convenient for me. Keim is only responsible for what we don’t like and none of what we like. I get it, but then again, it’s always mealtime around here.”
- “Feeding the lions at mealtime”
Sure, I am well aware on the on-going angst so many of us feel about GM Steve Keim. However, for the record, and I think most of you know this to be true, back when the Cardinals made the gutsy move to draft QB Kyler Murray and trade QB Josh Rosen, I lauded Keim for showing the capacity to atone for past mistakes and to take the organization in a completely new and exciting direction.
Thus, since the NFL Draft I had been thinking that Steve Keim had turned over a new leaf. I argued with our members who were still highly critical of Keim. The lions were still roaring then, but I was trying to suggest that Keim was looking like a new GM. I stood up for him.
What changed for me over the past couple of weeks is the way Keim has handled his business—-it’s like Keim can’t seem to get out of his own way—-or the team’s.
I outlined the cases in point in yesterday’s article.
Today, I am further struck by the bitter irony that last year’s two Super Bowl teams have been heavily scouting the Cardinals’ young offensive line talent.
The Patriots have basically stolen T Korey Cunningham and while they were doing their diligent research on him, they must have liked what they saw in G Colby Gossett because they just signed him to their PS. Gossett (who started 4 games for the Cardinals last year, earning a 77.6 grade in his 1st start, but, of course struggled 2 games later as a rookie versus Aaron Donald) had an 84.1 pass blocking grade in extensive snaps versus the Broncos—-but was up and down in learning the new system.
Yesterday, the Rams came knocking on the Cardinals’ PS door and snuck C/G Coleman Shelton out the door and onto their 53 man roster. Even though his PFF grades this pre-season were not great, Shelton’ showed good agility and versatility. The coaches even started him at center and played him for 3 quarters versus the Broncos—-where he earned a 69.7 pass blocking grade. The Rams must have watched that tape.
Thus, here is what I always find so fascinating about roster decisions. Steve Keim decided that 1 more year of Jeremy Vujnovich and a possible IR return for UFA Max Garcia—-two veterans on one year deals—-is better than developing Gossett and/or Shelton, despite knowing they are under highly affordable team control for the next 3 years.
In my way of thinking—-if you commit to developing the young talent on your team—-then maybe you don’t spend every draft selecting offensive linemen for depth on Day 3.
It’s this insidious cycle of drafting and bringing in young prospects and then giving up on them in a year or two without having properly developed them that continues to set this organization backward.
Will Jeremy Vujnovich and/or Max Garcia even be on the roster next year?
What happened with T Korey Cunningham, S Rudy Ford and RB T.J. Logan is outrageous and embarrassing. Of all of the young tackles in the NFL, the Patriots zeroed in on Cunningham and got him for cheap.
And this just in—-if you cut young players (you haven’t developed) who possess 4.3 speed—-they are going to get snatched up on waivers in a New York minute. Ford and Logan were two of the fastest players on the team—-and because of that—-they were late Day 3 steals in the NFL Draft, particularly for STs—-and now the Cardinals just gift wrapped them for the Eagles and Bucs (with BA).
Therefore, I am not just feeding the lions—-I am in the lion’s den with them But, I just want you to know that for months I tried like crazy to keep an new open mind about Steve Keim.
- “...every now and then you take advantage of literary freedom and give life to the unknown so it bends your way”—-
You’re right—-that’s my style. I know it is risky and i would be the first to apologize to anyone I mistakenly mischaracterized them, but I can assure you that when I take those literary freedoms that I have spent hours thinking through the contexts in trying to connect the dots. I took the risk of writing from the start that BA was nudged out (after weeks of gathering contexts)—-at the time and for well over a year, I took the heat—-and I expected that—-so if you think I am always trying to feed the lions, please know that I am acting on my own thoughts, questions, emotions and conclusions.
- “Keim is only responsible for what we don’t like and none of what we like.”
This statement was of great concern to me. I know that the article was heavily critical, but at the end of the article I tried very diligently to offer the positives and a detailed summary of the moves Keim deserves credit for. To be perfectly honest, I am super excited about the additions of OLB/DE Cassius Marsh, CB Kevin Peterson, DE/DT Jonathan Bullard and QB Kyle Sloter (PS).
But—-if you or anyone else came away from the article feeling that I don’t give Keim any credit—-then I must have done a poor job. I don't see it that way.
I feel that OLB Pete Robertson still deserves a roster spot and I am hoping he at least is kept on the PS. I think it sends a poor message to the team when a player put forth the stellar effort and production the way Robertson did and gets cut anyway....especially after ripping the players for “getting too comfortable.”
I also wish Steve Keim didn’t have to turn right around and cut QB Drew Anderson off of the PS, but I understand that Keim had to act quickly to make sure he at least had Anderson in the fold before knowing whether Sloter would sign with the Cardinals.
It’s tough. No GM is going to be liked by everyone.
I was disappointed to to see that WR A.J. Richardson was released from the PS. I was moved by the segment on Cardinals Flight Plan where Richardson was saying how hard it was to be an undrafted free agent, especially on a team loaded with young WR talent. And I was so happy to see Richardson play so well against the Broncos . His TD was outstanding.
Not sure why Richardson is now gone—-maybe he asked for his release to sign to another team’s PS where he has a better chance. But if I was the GM I would say, hey stay where you are, because we are high on you and we will promote you if and when the occasion presents itself.
Or maybe like with Anderson, Keim now found a player he likes better.
- Question of the Day
What I want ask you, Riggo, and all of the ROTB members—-do you think Steve Keim is well respected by the players? Forget about being liked—-because what matters most is the players’ respect. Is Keim well respected?
I will chime in with my thoughts on that after I have heard yours.
Do I think Keim deserves all of the blame?
The GM has to do a good job of acquiring players who fit the coaches’ proto-types, both physically and mentally.
Then the coaches have to do their best to develop the players.
When a young, talented player gets cut, the culpability is on the entire organization.
But I am anxious to hear everyone’s answers to the question, “Is Steve Keim well respected by the players?”
- The Photo Caption:
The Cardinals’ 2019 Starting Offensive Line, from left to right: LG Justin Pugh, LT D.J. Humphries, C A.Q. Shipley, RT Marcus Gilbert, RG J.R. Sweezy. I hope they kick ass. The Cardinals might surprise some people, if they do.