Sam Hinkie and the Philadelphia 76ers famously coined the phrase “Trust the Process” when Hinkie was GM and architect of the biggest, at the time, rebuild seen in modern sports.
Since then, the phrase has become a rallying cry for bad teams and their fan bases who want to believe that through all the losing, someday winning will prevail.
If you’re an Arizona Cardinals fan, here’s a different phrase to put on a t-shirt:
Don’t Trust the Process.
With his latest move of dumping starting safety DJ Swearinger, GM Steve Keim has effectively become the anti-Hinkie.
Swearinger, to be clear, was not good this year. He was a liability and should’ve lost time to some of the younger safeties. He was also the safety Steve Keim hand picked to start the season the moment the Cardinals claimed him last Christmas Day.
All offseason, through a depressed safety market in free agency that saw many established players get signed for reasonable contracts (including Tre Boston), through the draft, OTA’s, mini camps, training camp, the entire preseason and the first month of the season, Steve Keim believed DJ Swearinger was good enough to be the teams starting safety.
Even though the Cardinals had moved on once from Swearinger, under Keim, due to the combination of his personality in the locker room and play on the field, Keim still put a bunch of his eggs in a rebuilt secondary in DJ Swearinger’s basket.
For most GM’s, moving on from a slightly notable veteran one month into the season would be more of a checked swing called third strike than a full cork-screw home run swing whiff but for Keim, a strikeout is a strikeout and they’ve been piling up in an alarming fashion over the last few years,
Since the Cardinals appeared in the 2016 NFC Championship game where they were annihilated by the Carolina Panthers, the trajectory of the franchise has looked like the same red arrow pointing down as the number of people buying DVD’s: straight down.
Since that game, they’ve changed head coaches twice. They’ve changed quarterbacks three times. They’ve changed defensive schemes twice. They’ve changed coordinators, captains, coaches, kickers, offensive lineman, defensive lineman, cornerbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, safeties and punters.
And the losing has continued.
The one constant in the losing has been Keim.
His process is one that saw the Cardinals pass on drafting a QB in any round for three straight drafts, despite the knowledge that Carson Palmer’s career would be ending sooner rather than later. This put the Cardinals in the desperate position to overpay Sam Bradford and trade up for Josh Rosen in the same draft.
Keim’s process led the Cardinals to not drafting a single OL higher than the 4th round for going on four consecutive drafts, despite the unit being a glaring need for the Cardinals that entire time.
His process led the Cardinals to drafting Andy Isabella at 62nd overall in the pick acquired for Josh Rosen, instead of DK Metcalf, Diontae Johnson or Terry McLaurin who are all starting at WR for their respective teams while Isabella struggles to make the field.
His process led the Cardinals to paying David Johnson as one of the highest paid RB’s in the league only to construct terrible offensive lines and offensive schemes that have struggled to maximize Johnson’s talents.
His process led to more than $30 million in dead money this year on the Cardinals salary cap that couldn’t be used to make this bad team better.
His process hired Steve Wilks and Mike McCoy.
His process hired Kliff Kingsbury and surrounded him with Keim’s own hand picked staff around him.
His process has led to 100% unplanned, unexpected and complete and total failure over the last 16 months.
Until the general manager changes, please, whatever you do, DO NOT TRUST THE PROCESS.