1. Hiring Bruce Arians
Carson Palmer was great, so is David Johnson, but their success in the desert wouldn’t have been possible if not for Bruce Arians. The aggressive, offensive-minded head coach was the catalyst of the exciting Cardinals teams for five seasons. He was the right hire made in 2013, which makes the move as Keim’s best as a GM.
Before going to the desert, Arians was named as the 2012 NFL Coach of the Year. After then-Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano had to cede his duties to Arians due to a leukemia diagnosis. In surprising fashion, the interim head coach led the Colts to a 9-3 record and a playoff appearance.
Keim quickly rewarded Arians’ success in Indianapolis and immediately reaped the benefits. Arians’ Cardinals went 40-27-1 in a five-year span, including a 13-3 record and an NFC Championship birth. Even when the roster was riddled by injuries, Arians kept the boat afloat and kept teams led by Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton competitive.
There may be more prolific, longer-tenured coaches in Cardinals history, but Arians time in Arizona can’t be understated. The franchise was a mess before, but that changed quickly when Arians took the keys. There is little doubt that this was Wilks’ best move as a general manager, luckily, he also gave Arians the tools he needed, including Carson Palmer.
Arians retired in 2017 and then signed on with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers. But the gift of Arians keeps on giving; the Cardinals received a sixth-round as compensation from the signing.