At one point in time, Cardinals GM Steve Keim was the toast of the town.
Celebrated as the cause of a team’s entry into a second golden era where they rebuilt from the ashes of the Ken Whisenhunt era, plucked Bruce Arians from nothing and found youg stars in John Brown, Tyrann Mathieu, Deone Bucannon and David Johnson along with the rebirth of Carson Palmer’s career.
Since the magical 2015 season in which they went 13-3, however, his fall from grace has been nothing short of Icarus flying too close to the sun only to see the wax wings holding him aloft melt and the plummet has been steep.
Well while humanity has seven deadly sins, I believe there are only three in the business world.
There’s a 4th but we’ll get to that in a bit...for now let’s focus on each of these in terms of how they play out in an industry.
Arrogance is the idea that you’ve got nothing but confidence that whatever has worked in the past will continue to keep working. Think of Kodak, going from ruling the film world only to fail to see it move into a digital age.
Apathy is a lack of caring or ignoring a perpetual flaw or cause, such as a failure to fix a design flaw or simply not caring about it. This is simple to understand when looking at a company like Toyota having faulty brakes for so long or ignoring warnings that Mount St. Helens could potentially erupt because it’s far too inconvenient to continually beware or evacuate.
And finally there is ignorance, which is simply a failure to understand or learn or grow not due to pride or not caring, but simply due to being unable to bridge the gap and make progress and being unable to see why that is the case.
It’s like the tale of the blind men trying to describe an elephant, or if someone tells you that “mucho frijoles” means “many thanks!” in spanish when you’ve actually just ordered more pinto beans. It involves being unable to perceive what you are lacking.
And in the case of the Arizona Cardinals, they are to some aspect guilty of all three. But the final one is the one I will be keying in on as I think it’s at the root cause of why the Arizona Cardinals have one win in their last 20 games and a pitiful record in home games.
Ignorance: not knowing what you don’t know and therefore seeing no reason to fix it.
This tweet sums up quite a bit:
The Cardinals are now 3-16-1 in their last 20 games. They’ve changed coaches, philosophies, schemes, players and even the name of the stadium. The losing has continued. Only change left to make now is at GM.— Jody Oehler (@radiojody) September 29, 2019
There’s an old statement that goes: “If you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.” And perhaps the current 2019 Cardinals season that has 75% of the games left to be played is still yet to be written.
But so far, there seems to be no answer for the continual year-over-year failures on the offensive line, stopping the run, or overall ability to evaluate talent and set expectations for the fanbase.
As it’s those expectations that are the core problem. It’s due to the fact that Keim and the front office truly believe that the talent that he and they have accumulated is truly more talented than it actually is.
Cards GM Steve Keim on this year’s Cards Flight Plan training camp episode (which was fantastically done by the way): “I think you have to go for it every year.” pic.twitter.com/0nHfXrcYXO— Blake Allen Murf (@blakemurphy7) September 30, 2019
In short the pattern becomes very clear as to the ignorance issues that plague the Cardinals. Outside of the 4th sin that can occur, he’s lost the ability to accurately judge his own team’s internal talent and as a result he puts off and delays embracing a complete rebuild.
Those 3 crimes are in fact selfish and a lack of “team player” ones and frankly, can be toxic. It’s probably no coincidence that the team’s struggles started when they got their own Amazon special and Keim at the same point cheaped out on special teams players and saw Michael Floyd and John Brown’s production dive with both leaving the team (and one trashing it on the way out). Keim seems to be unable to see why Arizona is poorly liked, and the team being passed on for a 2nd interview from Mike Munchak wasn’t a wake up call enough.
Perhaps it was something as simple as their belief they could win now with Sam Bradford.
Gosh that looks ignorant and stupid doesn’t it? And it hasn’t even been accountable for or tolerated outside of a “reassigning” of Terry McDonought his past year.
Even last year, the talk from the Cardinals was “we made a mistake with our head coach”. So far this year? The losing has continued and while the offense looks a bit better, the defense hasn’t improved.
And the biggest standout is that Keim’s veterans aren’t performing and that the team simply wasn’t mismanaged with coaching. It just was a terrible team.
Lipstick on a pig.
And now, the team’s in the same place they were a year ago, only this time if they lose to the Bengals in week 5 they’ll be one win worse from last year.
Because in the end the core problem of talent evaluation begins and ends with the general manager. Until they can recapture the identity that they’ve lacked in finding leadership that embodies the OPPOSITE of arrogance, apathy and ignorance.
Someone humble, hungry and smart.
Basically a true team player. Kinda like how Kingsbury’s managed his games so far despite the fact that he has a rookie quarterback, no offensive line, a struggling ex-star running back and even now another injury to deal with.
So maybe what the 2019 season has been for the Cards is just taking off the lipstick to show what’s really been there underneath all along;
With the right leader, however, perhaps they can take advantage of a rookie quarterback contract to bring home some bacon and build the Cardinals into a contender.
Let’s hope so at least.