Background: Aug 24, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee; Arizona Cardinals tight end Trey McBride (85) pulls in a catch during a joint training camp practice at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV
This off-season, after years of watching prima donnas rule the roost in Arizona, one of the conclusions that this long-time Cardinals’ fan came to is “no one coddles a diva more than Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim.”
And now that we are witnessing more incredibly annoying examples of the Cardinals’ coaching staff not knowing what to do with their rookies, especially after seeing the Kansas City Chiefs giving 7-8 of their rookies clear roles and playing time, today’s conclusion is “no one ices their rookies more than Steve Keim and the current coaching staff.”
To borrow a catchy refrain from Vanilla Ice, with the regard to the yearly employment of the Cardinals’ rookies, it’s a classic case of “Ice, Ice, Babies.”
By now the yearly lyrics of “Ice, Ice, Babies” is a predictable refrain:
- Watching Steve Keim make the draft picks with high fives all around the jubilant draft headquarters.
- Hearing Steve Keim describe each pick with the kind of superlatives befitting of NFL stars.
- Watching the coaching staff try some of the rookies at positions they did not play much or at all in college. Latest example: Cameron Thomas at OLB. Anyone who understands positional photo-types in the NFL can readily conclude that Cameron Thomas is not suited to play 34 OLB. However, Thomas appears to be well suited to play 34 DE or 43 DE.
- Steve Keim adding free agent veterans at the positions he just drafted and seeing the veterans catapult to the top of the depth chart, while the rookies stay on the back end.
- Come Week 1 if, by a miracle, a rookie is playing, if he makes one mistake, he is given the quick hook and a reduced role the next week, and often, for weeks after that.
- Watching many of the rookies get tabbed as inactives on game days —- or if not, relegated to special teams and thereby standing most of the game as a spectator on the sidelines.
- When the rookies finally get their chance to play, they are juggled in and out and are not given a proper chance to find a groove. They are often not put in a position to succeed.
- “Check out the hook, while the DJ revolves it.”
What the current GM and coaching staff do not seem to understand is what a damaging psychology it is for a good, promising young player to have to stand on the sidelines, which for most of them, is the first time in their life —- a
After rookies are given too much time to think and too much time to wait —- by then they have been properly iced.
Giving a staunch competitor too much time too think allows for doubts to creep in —- where doubts can quickly turn into anxiety —- where anxiety can quickly turn into depression.
What the current GM and coaching staff also appear to ignore is how the infusion of youth can not only invigorate the entire football team, but the entire fan base, as well.
Imagine what the Chiefs’ fans are feeling today —- they have to be thinking, man, we are going to be good for a long, long time. They have to be feeling a supreme sense of confidence that their team can identify bona fide NFL talent and that their coaches know exactly what to do with that talent.
Can we Cardinals’ fans even dream feeling the same at this point?
Coming into this season, because of the Cardinals’ coaches reluctance to make a full commitment to their previous two first round draft picks, Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins, many Cardinals’ fans have been wondering and fearing that Simmons and Collins will turn out to be busts.
The coaches have led us to believe that.
For some strange reason, many Cardinals fan still tend to trust the coaches’ indecisions over the talent and strong potential of the players.
The Saga of the Green Dot
When Steve Keim drafted Zaven Collins, he made it clear that Collins would be the starting MIKE ILB from day one. That was music to many Cardinals’ fans ears because we saw the incumbent MIKE look reluctant to run downhill to the football in favor of making tackles 5-10 yards from the line of scrimmage from a stationery spot. Plus, the incumbent MIKE was not adept at playing man coverage versus TEs and RBs.
Come day one of practices, Vance Joseph apparently did not get Steve Keim’s memo, because the incumbent was still the starter and wearer of the green dot. Joseph supported this decision to stick with the incumbent because, after all, it was too much to ask of a rookie to wear the green dot.
Last year, the Chiefs had no problem starting their rookie MIKE Nick Bolton —- and look at how that decision is paying huge dividends today. Bolton is father along because of the reps he got as a rookie.
The fact is, a veteran player like Budda Baker can wear the green dot. Thus, Joseph’s excuse about the green dot was a crock.
It’s like Joseph looked Steve Keim in the eyes and said “go screw.”
Despite this, Joseph gave Zaven Collins some meaningful snaps versus the Titans in Week 1 and Collins’ downhill aggressive style helped the defense stifle All-Pro RB Derrick Henry, en route to a stunning 38-13 upset of the Titans in Nashville.
And then, for Collins, the music of significant playing time stopped, for games on end.
And, as it turned out, neither Zaven Collins nor Isaiah Simmons were given starting nods from Vance Joseph in the team’s first playoff game since 2015.
Ice, Ice, Babies...
Imagine what it was like for Collins’ and Simmons’ morale this entire off-season knowing their arses were on the sidelines for the most important game the Cardinals have played in 7 years.
Fast forward to this season. Joseph’s incumbent MIKE moved on in free agency with the expectation that the job is now Zaven Collins’.
During the off-season, Vance Joseph proclaimed about Simmons and Collins, “now it’s their time.”
Was Joseph prompted to say this?
Why were there rumors about UFA Nick Vigil (42.1 PFF grade in 7i8 snaps for the 2021 Vikings) being signed to start at ILB?
Why was Vigil kept in bubble wrap all pre-season?
And, what about the green dot?
First, the news was Budda Baker would be wearing the green dot.
Second, the news was, not Budda, but Jalen Thompson instead.
OK, if not Budda, JT makes sense.
Third, no to Budda and JT —- Vance Joseph assigned the green to Isaiah Simmons, the team’s new “star linebacker” (anyone clear yet of what that means?).
So —- talk about the green dot significance coming full circle in a dubious way.
Vance Joseph didn’t start Zaven Collins as a rookie because it was too much to ask for him to wear the green dot.
This year apparently, it was also too much to ask of Collins to wear the green dot.
By the way, have you ever listened to Collins’ coaches at Tulsa talk about the command he had of calling the Golden Hurricane’s defense, where he was a unanimous All-American and the 2020 Chuck Bednarik Award winner as the BEST defensive football player in America?
So —- the final decision was to give the green dot to Isaiah Simmons, who has yet to find his groove in the NFL. You know, the 2019 Butkus Award winner whom Vance Jospeh and Billy Davis benched for the playoff game in favor of starting Tanner Vallejo. Yeah, that guy.
The question is —- how much more can Joseph and Davis do to try to screw with Isaiah Simmons’ head?
Then to compound matters for Simmons, in game one last week, Joseph throws blitz calls on 35 of the Cardinals’ 66 defensive plays. But...
“We Had a Good Plan For Kelce”
“We drafted him to cover tight ends.”— Bo Brack (@BoBrack) September 15, 2022
Arizona Cardinals DC Vance Joseph admits Isaiah Simmons had a rough game in Week 1 and needs to fix a couple things going forward. pic.twitter.com/eJLgkOQ2gk
You be the judge.
Please let us know your impressions of this video.
We are passing you the ball on this one.
When Playing Rookies Brought Utter Joy
I was a senior in high school when Terry Metcalf burst onto the scene —-- the way he invigorated a largely veteran team at that time was spectacular and it helped launch the Cardinals into their greatest three year stretch of games in the mid 70s.
OTD 1973 Terry Metcalf rushed for 133 yards in his NFL debut as the Cards beat the Eagles 34-23 at the Vet giving Don Coryell his first NFL victory.#BigRed1970s pic.twitter.com/vdvAz8uEbf— St. Louis Football Cardinals (@BigRed_STL) September 16, 2022
Terry Metcalf was living proof of the Cardinals’ coaches putting the romance into playing rookies.