The Arizona Cardinals have kicked off the 2023 year in the next phase of their organization following a 4-13 season with the obvious first step:
Hiring a general manager.
The team’s first external general manager hire since the 90’s, new Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort was introduced to the media this morning via a press conference.
Some felt that the quick announcement (especially on a holiday such as MLK Jr. Day) was a bit of a surprise, or that Arizona was further along in the process than most thought. Some had guessed that the team might hold that spot open to have it be appointed by the team’s head coach (...you know who this means).
However, it does fit the timeline that Owner Michael Bidwill set forth in hiring a GM before a head coach as the preference.
So what can we take away from GM Monti’s first media conversation? Here’s 5 immediate takeaways...
#1. Team above all as the main focus
Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort:— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) January 17, 2023
"Ego will not be tolerated in this organization."
Ossenfort made it clear that no one player would come ahead of the team, and talked about how accountability was a big part of what he hoped to have and to bring to the Cardinals organization.
This was echoed by owner Michael Bidwill in how he said conversations he had with players echoed that sentiment.
While Cardinals GM Steve Keim didn’t go out of his way to field a team of braggerts and showoffs, Hard Knocks and discussions from Michael Bidwill to the players noted that not all players were putting in all the effort or being accountable to each other, and Kliff Kingsbury himself was seen as a “player’s coach”. It seems like there will be more involvement by Ossenfort than former GM Keim in his final year with the team.
#2. Monti comes from humble beginnings outside of NFL “royalty”
Ossenfort was a small-town college football player, who worked his way up the scouting department and shared a story about his time sitting unsigned by any NFL organization in a bookstore in Sioux Falls, North Dakota, looking into becoming an FBI agent all together.
He wasn’t the son of a coach or even a former NFL player or had an NFL gig at any point.
His hometown had just two stoplights (my dad’s home of Fremont Michigan had just one...now there’s a Walmart there, so I understand the humble beginnings a bit)
And from there...he worked his way up to being the guy under a Bill Belichick among other GM names and became the assistant GM under former Patriot and ex-Titans GM Jon Robinson.
Like Steve Keim, who was an area scout, he worked his way up. Unlike Keim, however, he had the opportunity to see multiple organizations, something Steve never did as a Cardinals lifer.
#3. He didn’t tie himself to one specific approach versus identifying a coach first and fitting personnel to them
The biggest and most important questions that were asked about the new GM was...”who’s next for your head coach?” or “What do you look for in a head coach?”
The only name of interest mentioned was a Vance Joseph interview later that day.
But unlike with the previous Cardinals front office, who saw multiple draft picks at linebackers or safeties that moved around, this seems to be a point where they will want to be on the same page as an organization.
#4. Pointed to Budda Baker specifically as a person that the Cardinals strove to model their team around guys like him
This was sure to get fans fired up. Ossenfort gave a story about how he would “run through a brick wall” for Budda after interviewing him as a part of the Patriots scouting department at the NFL combine.
All in all, Ossenfort touted accountability, humility, patience and a long-term approach.
It will be interesting to see what coach he hires.