The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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Would You Sacrifice Kliff for Keim?

With Steve Keim's approval ratings hovering somewhere around that of a telemarketer, its time to talk about the real consequences of what moving on from the embattled GM could be.

Would you be willing to sacrifice Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury if it meant the departure of Steve Keim?

Now, lets get a few things straight right off the top:

Kingsbury has done nothing to put himself on the hot seat.

This isn't a conversation about what Kliff Kingsbury has done wrong. Its a conversation of whether Kingsbury would be collateral damage for all the wrong Steve Keim has done.

Kingsbury has an obvious bond with franchise savior Kyler Murray, that much is obvious. Unceremoniously dumping Kingsbury would likely be an issue with Kyler in the short term and possibly one of those things that happens early in a relationship that prevents it from ever being whole again.

And it would obviously be unfair to Kingsbury. Kingsbury wasn't hired as a finished product as a head coach. This is his first coaching job in the NFL in any capacity and in that regards, he's held up pretty well.

He has shown a clear knack for offensive play design, a willingness to adapt and evolve his philosophy and prior to Sunday's blowout loss to the Rams this team was playing competitive football for most of the season.

But there are also clear questions about his long term viability as a head coach.

Can he be anything other than an NFL version of his Texas Tech career; an offensively gifted play caller with a fatally flawed defense and an inability to consistently win?

And while the offense is markedly better this year than it was last year, we've also seen what the NFL can do to gifted offensive minded head coaches when the league has a year to adjust defensively.

Again, this isn't a referendum on Kingsbury, its more about how far you might be willing to go to get the change the franchise desperately needs at GM.

A new GM would likely view Kingsbury with a lot less confidence than Steve Keim. In fact, its safe to say that Keim likely was the only GM that was willing to offer him a head coaching job in the first place.

If you move on from Keim and hire an outside voice, as this Cardinals franchise so desperately needs, you are basically starting the clock on moving on from Kingsbury.

Keeping Keim means entrusting him with what could be the Cardinals best war chest of offseason resources in years despite his recent, dramatic failures.

With a new GM, you'd have a real chance to maximize the five year window with Kyler Murray on a rookie contract. You'd have a GM presiding over a likely top 10 draft pick, nearly $80 million in cap space, an opportunity to move on from David Johnson and Patrick Peterson if so inclined and a fresh set of eyes to evaluate a roster and draft track record that ranks near the bottom of the league.

The 49ers made the tough call to do just this 3 years ago when they canned Trent Baalke and first year head coach Chip Kelly on the same day on January 1st, 2017.

They hired John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan as replacements and three years later are 10-2 and a Super Bowl favorite but not before both men faced real questions about whether they were the right choices.

Meanwhile, if the Cardinals did dump K2 and his staff it would make six total first year coordinators and head coaches that have been fired by the Cardinals organization over a two year period. That can't be good for business.

The answer to me is fairly simple: If the Cardinals fired Steve Keim, their decision to move on from Kingsbury should boil down to who they are able to hire as GM and how convincing that GM's plan is for success moving forward.

If a new GM provides a list of coaching and coordinator candidates along with a detailed plan of rebuilding the roster while wowing the Cardinals, Kliff would need to be painful collateral damage.

If the Cardinals failures the last two years and reputation as an impulsive franchise leads to a dearth of quality outside candidates, they'd likely promote from within and keep Kliff for at least next season.

I'm just glad I'm not the one making the decision.

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