The most underrated move the Arizona Cardinals made this offseason was promoting Vice President of Player Personnel Steve Keim to general manager. Joining the Cardinals in 1999 as a regional scout, he worked his way up through the organization. Keim was rewarded for his success in drafts, drafting players that will one day be in the ring of honor inside University of Phoenix Stadium such as Larry Fitzgerald, Adrian Wilson, and Darnell Dockett.
As soon as the Cardinals had their man at GM it was time to start looking for a head coach. Early in the process the candidates were Jay Gruden, offensive coordinator, of the Cincinnati Bengals, Ray Horton, now the defensive coordinator for Cleveland Browns, and Mike McCoy, now the head coach of the San Diego Chargers. Two of those three were offensive-minded coaches which made complete sense considering the Cardinals finishing last in total offense. The fan favorite was Horton, who came in and turned the Cardinals, a team that was once known for its offense, into a terrifying defensive team in just two years.
While the other NFL teams quickly filled their head coaching spots, the Cardinals took a little bit more time than expected, but ultimately came away with the best available candidate in Bruce Arians, the Indianapolis Colts interim head coach. They say good things comes to those who wait and that was certainly the case with the Cardinals and Bruce Arians. Arians wasn’t a household name until this past year, when he led the Colts to the playoffs as an interim head coach with sensational rookie quarterback Andrew Luck while head coach Chuck Pagano was battling leukemia. Before all his popularity started to blow up, he was the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers and was a part of the team that beat the Arizona Cardinals and ended their improbable run.
Arians is out to prove he’s not a one hit wonder, and the Arizona Cardinals and their fans hope the same. If the Cardinals don’t meet expectations, don’t scream bloody murder just yet. Considering the Cardinals have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL and play in the toughest division in the NFL, it might take some time.
Many experts say seven to nine wins would be a great season for Arians in his first year. I’m sure for Arians anything short of the playoffs is a failure for him, though. When the season comes we will see how far or how close the Arizona Cardinals are to becoming a dominant team. I’ll give Arians three years to turn this team into a legitimate contender. There’s no doubt that with a few more successful drafts and finding that franchise quarterback this team will be scary good.
In the end of all the head coaches and general managers hired this offseason Keim and Arians will be the best combination.