He talked about wanting to extend Kenyan Drake (though he didn’t guarantee they would) and discussed a few other matters at hand such as David Johnson expectations, the “rumors” of a Mexico home game and the team’s possibility for a Hard Knocks appearance.
But outside of some national news saying that the NFL’s health & safety data supported a 17 game season, the biggest takeaway that many Cardinals fans had was how he glowed about Steve Keim.
Bidwill reassured when asked several times about extending players or moving on from David Johnson that that was Steve’s line of expertise. He then went on to defend his general manager, with the following quotes on 98.7 per AZCardinals.com:
Bidwill said he’s seen change and progress and mentioned that the team has had multiple discussions around about team-building and draft philosophy.
Essentially “why have we kept missing?” and asking that question.
Bidwill also did admit that there was a level of criticism that Keim had undergone over the following season or two (with multiple twitter accounts bashing his GM being the tip of the iceberg) but he asked to look at the bigger picture.
Essentially, Bidwill pointed to the two solid moves of the hiring of Kliff Kingsbury and the drafting of Kyler Murray.
Interestingly, and perhaps unsurprisingly, there was a bit of feedback or backlash to this take even from Cardinals reporters:
“I’d say (Keim) just picked the rookie of the year with his last (first-round) draft pick.”— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) February 12, 2020
It’s not like this was a hard decision for Steve Keim to make. https://t.co/Ktz2uBNAL6
In hindsight, Murray was the right pick but as the tweet below shows...it’s not like it was a gung-ho made up decision from the start...as this tweet from 1 year ago shows.
Y’all are having fun with speculation, but... pic.twitter.com/dy4NbJ82iB— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) February 12, 2019
So what are Cardinals fans to make of this defense of a GM that many have repeatedly and voraciously attacked and demand to be fired?
I think it’s something as simple as the Owner, who’s close to Keim, doesn’t view him the same way as many fans do for one particular reason...
Behind the curtain, doesn’t see Keim the same way Cardinals fans do in front of the curtain.
It’s as simple as that. Cardinals fans look at Keim’s track record in the draft, free agency, the post-Arians’ Steve Wilks & Mike McCoy debacle and Josh Rosen are all things Cardinals fans feel are unforgiveable to the point where he needed/needs to be removed as GM.
And Bidwill doesn’t see it that way as the Cardinals’ hiring of Kingsbury and drafting of Kyler Murray were things he saw as a positive and step in the right direction toward progress. Which leads to an interesting conundrum...
How much decision-making in work or in life (maybe even more than just the NFL) should failure and working to improve be allowed for versus severing a work relationship and firing an individual?
It’s not a “black and white” situation. You can’t learn without failure but you can’t perform by just failing, too.
Fans seem to have had enough and as our own ROTB readers can know...the comments sections are filled with a lot of “Keim sucks, we can’t trust him and need to move on” bemoaning and when he was kept for next season, those voices only intensified.
And Bidwill clearly heard them.
I think in the NFL there’s a way that Michael has previously operated and it’s been out of a similar direction to the rest of the NFL....revolving around the quarterback and coach.
For example, of the following general managers, which ones would be “safe” and which ones might be on the “hot seat” following the 2021 season?
The teams that are NOT on the hot seat? Chiefs, Ravens, Texans (to be fair they don’t have a GM) All have an ascending, rising quarterback. The ones who don’t? They’re looking for one or found one who hasn’t been as successful.
NFL teams will often move off of a head coach but when it comes to a General Manager, they really only move off of them if they feel a complete change of direction is needed—and the Cardinals with Kyler Murray aren’t that.
There’s subtle aspects to it as well, now, with there being STILL a lot of moves that the Cardinals have made, even last year, that felt like moves that helped contribute to the Cardinals’ decline in terms of draft capital and giving up “too early” on some players while extending the core guys to deals that kicked the can down the road.
It’s not something that I think you can or shouldn’t defend when the team signs & cuts guys like D.J. Swearinger or Terrell Suggs, or even this past year in signing and cutting Kevin White and Michael Crabtree (heck even T.J. Logan to keep D.J. Foster) and then seeing almost zero impact from their 3 draft picks at wide receiver.
Yes, even in spite of some progress made there were flaws.
But Bidwill sees a man who’s working and improving and, to be fair, he would probably know. That’s a big key here.
It’s easy to judge on the outside of a situation based on results and production when you have no idea what went into that production in the first place.
It stands to reason that if the Cardinals have another underwhelming season that we will end up right in this spot next year...but if the Cardinals don’t, and improve and are pushing for a playoff spot?
That would be in part because of Steve Keim, and not in spite of him, as ultimately he IS the one responsible for the Cardinals’ decisions. Despite the unpopularity from the DUI days, he’s gotten AZ to a point where they’re being talked about as a top free agent destination.
In short, there’s flaws.
But the core of the team isn’t rotten...despite many in outrage upset at the results of the 2018 season in which the team’s coaching staff and quarterback play was SO BAD that they had to be fired after 1 season, they didn’t stay stuck in it.
And I think that’s the key.
Complacency and incompetency is what gets general managers fired when the direction is clearly wrong. Keim reset the direction and frankly...hasn’t gotten the accolades because it was still just a 5-10-1 season, but he also hasn’t gotten the blame for other things going wrong by Bidwill yet.
Because he’s not being judged by the past, essentially. Bidwill’s made it clear he will be judged by the future moves/decisions he will make. The move of Kliff/Kyler over Wilks and Rosen not only saved Keim’s job but saved a lot of heartache for Cardinals fans.
I do believe that Keim failing at multiple picks and the team sinking, only to be turned around, has had fans WAY more focused on the failure and bitterness that came out of it.
It’s a middle ground: I think fans are justified for the past. But while past performance can indicate the future, it doesn’t mean that it will, does it?
As a “fanatic” or fan though, that doesn’t matter.
Hurt is usually something that sees people lash out, back at the one who hurt them or at anyone or anything and unlike Bidwill, Keim’s been the fall guy there for Cards fans.
In short, fans want the GM PUNISHED for those failures, rather than recognizing what may or may not have been learned from it. Which is what Michael essentially said when speaking on Keim’s adjustment and changes to improve his own philosophy.
Do you have trust in me? We found Kliff & Kyler and look where we are now. If you have trust in me, then trust Steve and I’ll handle the rest when it comes to that.—what Michael’s saying.
And while that trust has been broken for many fans, there’s good news: Keim has the chance to win back the trust of fans with improvement and stacking winning seasons with the team and potentially working toward another run like 2015.
It’ll just take a while. So in the meantime, why not just accept what the Cards owner is saying and let it all play out? Many fans probably won’t welcome back Steve with open arms, but if the team, say, wins double-digit games next year?
I don’t know if many will care—except for a few, obviously, but that’s what a win-now league does for you. And I’m hoping for the team to win, after all. Bidwill certainly has got his commitment lined up and seemed downright upbeat about their future.
Joy and realistic hope certainly beats the spiral of bitterness and depression in my book.