The job of an NFL general manager includes many tasks. The most visible of those tasks includes drafting players, negotiating contracts and hiring coaches. Since the Steve Wilks hire in January of 2018, Keim started receiving a lot of criticism. His DUI arrest later in the year not only upset a lot of fans but seemed to highlight bigger issues that the team had. As the season played out, those concerns were warranted as Cardinals posted the worst record in the league. While Keim’s position makes him an easy target for critics, now that the 2019 season appears to be improving, should we rethink our opinion about terminating Keim’s contract as GM?
2019 began Keim’s seventh season as Cardinals GM. Not including this current season, his record as GM is 52-43-1. His predecessor, Rod Graves, only posted a 45-51 ratio in the last six seasons of his contact. Team president Michael Bidwell’s philosophy has changed over the years, especially in comparison to his father’s approach. Both seem to be more fiscally conservative than other teams – a fact that many in the media criticized Bidwell senior for. But the hire of Keim seemed to signal a more aggressive approach that the younger Bidwell wanted to usher in. That aggressive style lead to the colloquial phrase “Keim time” after the team would have an impressive signing.
Keim has had some impressive signings for sure. The first that comes to my mind is Adrian Peterson in 2017. Bringing Peterson to the team gave a jolt that the team needed. Trading Jonathan Cooper for Chandler Jones has definitely paid off. That trade also provides some perspective here. Any team can make a bet on a player that doesn’t pay off. Cooper was released from the Patriots a few months after the trade and Jones just racked up a career high of 4 sacks in a game and shows no sign of slowing down.
It’s no secret that there have been some lack luster signings as well. Most recently Michael Crabtree. Now, I won’t lie that I was hopeful to see a Sherman-Crabtree rematch a few times this year, but amidst reports that Crabtree wasn’t a fit in the locker room he was released. One could argue the vetting process could have been better, especially since this mistake cost the team 2 million, but was he wrong in pursuing Crabtree to add depth? I’m leaning towards no.
Of course, there are plenty of other examples of players brought in that one could argue are proof that Keim should be let go. But in the age of fantasy football, everyone likes to play GM, but real-life football is a little different. The Seahawks couldn’t keep Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas happy. Jacksonville received some bad publicity in the midst of the Jalen Ramsey saga. Denver signed Brock Osweiller who went 0-4 in games he started. The Rams kept Jeff Fisher as head coach for four and a half seasons, despite never having a record above .500.
Through seven games, Kingsbury has a better record than the previous five Cardinals coaches in their first seven games. The locker room seems excited and has bought into what Kingsbury is doing. Team moral is higher than it was last season and that goes a long way into creating a winning record. Obviously, we’ll have to wait and see as the season shakes out. But the trend is upwards. So, if we are calling for Keim’s termination after three loses, it seems we should cut the guy some slack after three wins. In real-life football, that doesn’t happen by accident.