I’m going to take a look towards next year a piece at a time.
Starting at the top could mean Bidwill. However, I’m only considering people who could be changed. That would not include Bidwill. So this is about Keim. I’m going to give Keim a pass on coaching decisions. MB is heavily involved in these choices, so it isn’t clear to me if Keim would had made different choices. The Cards have a long time “stay in your lane” policy. This means Keim wouldn’t have a role in game plans and possibly in who’s active. So I’m staying with what I know.
Keim’s world is personnel. It breaks down into mostly 3 areas. The draft, free agents and trades. On the latter, it would be hard to imagine a more successful trader. Arguably the top offensive player & the Cards’ top defensive player both came from trades. The Cards clearly came up ahead on both deals. My only fault would be that this year the Cards should have made moves at the trade deadline. This draft will be the most challenging I can remember. I would have taken the sure things. Maybe they didn’t get the offer with which they could have worked. Still that was my preferred time to act.
Most teams are hit & miss on free agent signing. The Cards are no different. Keim has done well on making castoffs work. Arnold, Nugent, Peko, Golden, and K Peterson. The picture has been more mixed on bigger money free agents. Good signing would include Peters, Pugh and Williams who would be wins. Lee, Campbell, Blackmon, Sweezy and Hicks started strong then faded. Garcia, Kennard and Phillips were overvalued. On the whole this performance looks about low average compared to other GMs. What’s missing is a star or two. You’d think they would hit big on somebody.
The draft is a different issue. Murray is a find but he seemed to be a Kingsbury dictate. Here’s the first round list starting in 2013. Cooper, Bucannon, Humphries, Nkemdiche, Reddick, Rosen, Murray and Simmons. Reddick and Simmons show potential but hideous coaching has made evaluation tough. Humphries was slow developing but seems at least adequate. You might call Bucannon adequate but not worthy of Round 1. The remainder are poor selections bordering on useless. That’s quite a few early picks that failed almost completely. The round 2 list contains Minter, Niklas, Golden, Baker, Kirk, Isabella and Murphy. This is a better group than round 1. Baker is a probable star. Minter and Golden were functional. Murphy is marginal. The 3 pass catchers appear to be failures, but they may keep trying with Kirk. Still that’s marginal success in round 2.
In Keim’s early years stars like Johnson and Mathieu were drafted. Since low round draft picks rarely develop quickly it’s too early to call 2019. 2016-18 produced only Edmonds as an impact role player despite the fact others saw significant playing time. It seems either Keim has lost his touch or the Cards’ scouting has collapsed into ineffectiveness.
On the whole the question is has Keim put a personnel group on the field that can win. I have had issues with Murray’s fragility and the coaching he has received. Still they could win with him. The cast of skilled players surrounding him has one star, Hopkins, one good situational player, Edmonds and two marginally effective players, Arnold & Williams. They have only one quality lineman, Humphries. That’s it and that’s clearly not enough. The rest couldn’t start with the Seahawks or the Rams. This is not a winning offense.
On defense the loss of Jones was significant , though despite big brags, he was off to a slow start. Perhaps he was concealing injury. Patrick Peterson has lost a step. Kirkpatrick declined to be mostly ineffective. Murphy was marginal at best. He got back into slot coverage, but was weak for a second round pick. The remainder were just filling space. Baker emerged as an impact player. He still had some coverage issues but was greatly improved. No other safety distinguished themself. Except for occasionally Campbell, no LB looked effective in coverage or locking down the corner on running plays. They seemed constantly confused in zone. Simmons played too little to be evaluated. The line was perpetually injured. Peters played decently, but showed his age. Phillips regressed badly. A couple of players flashed ability, but this was a weak line.
Special teams had no effective returners and an aging punter. I could forgive the surprising Gonzalez collapse.
In the end this group wasn’t good enough. There were too few stars. Beyond Simmons where are the young players who might be expected to take a big leap forward next season? Keim failed and the future looks questionable. If this were his first or second year in the job I wouldn’t be so concerned. He’s established in the job and failed to deliver. He has to go.
Bucannon was an F selection with Carr and Bridgewater on the board. Neither of them are elite but they were certainly worth the selection with an aging Palmer and 2 bums behind him on the roster.