Meeting Wars broke out in Phoenix late Thursday afternoon. Two trusted reporters offering completely different versions of what is currently happening inside the Arizona Cardinals organization.
In this corner, is Kyle Odegard. Kyle was a reporter working for the Arizona Cardinals for several years churning out reliably excellent work while working for the team.
In the other corner, NFL Network insider heavyweight Ian Rapoport who's track record of breaking stories is as good as any.
At stake: whether the Arizona Cardinals brass actually met in a tense meeting to discuss presumably to discuss the futures of General Manager Steve Keim and Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury.
On Friday morning, Ian Rapoport joined me for our usual weekly conversation to add further detail to what he believes is currently happening with the Arizona Cardinals brain trust. Here are some of the questions I asked and his answers.
On clarifying whether a meeting between the parties has happened:
"I wouldn't say that anybody is happy, honestly. I wouldn't say that Michael Bidwell is real happy. Nor should he be. Had a team ready to go, ready to make a run in the playoffs. Then in late November, the Cardinals were probably the best team in the NFL. Then to flame out like they did and then to have another late season slide which we've seen a lot from Kliff Kingsbury. It's all frustrating. I do not portend that Michael Bidwell is feeling great, I don't know that everyone is happy. Don't proclaim anything about anyone's future. I just know that from I'm told, from several people who have been in the meeting, that it literally didn't happen."
I then asked Ian about how a franchise would be expected to meet after a loss like the Cardinals suffered and the end of the season, Ian offered his thoughts:
"I don't believe they have met yet. I'm sure they will at some point after the season. Often, the owner, head coach and GM will meet and have discussions about the season. All of that is pretty customary. It just hasn't happened yet. What a lot of team like to do is let the team breathe. Let everyone get through it and process it. Make sure it's not reactionary. Had the Giants used this approach with Joe Judge, he's probably still be the coach. They decided to meet on Monday when everything is tense and raw. Try to let it breathe a little bit. I expect them to meet soon and talk it out a bit."
Are changes still possible for the Cardinals leadership?
"Ummm, yeah I mean changes are possible. Changes are possible, I don't know about likely but I would say possible. Anytime you have a season where everything is going so well and then so badly, obviously everyone must consider everything. This is not a business for the faint of heart and I'm sure some hard questions are being asked. I'm not so sure anything happens. But I imagine some hard questions will be asked, as they should. Because the only goal for this organization is to win a Super Bowl. The questions that need to be asked, Kingsbury's team have struggled down the stretch, historically. Is that something that can be fixed? They got a good core. Also, something important to remember, the coach and the quarterback are pretty tied together too. They also share the same agent. If you were going to make a change, it would dramatically affect the coach and the quarterback. Are you ready to blow it up, does that actually help?"
Are Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury a package deal or could one be separated from the other?
"I think there can be a separation. They have two different jobs. Keim has hired a couple different head coaches, obviously. What Keim has done, is spend a lot during the offseason. He was real creative (with free agency) he got a pretty good team together. He presented it to the coach, the coach does his best with it, the coach moves forward. It's been a good partnership. They've worked well together, they found stuff they like. There has been a lot to like. It just didn't end well. The focus is just making sure the ending is something that doesn't repeat itself year after year.
Is if fair to say the longer we get from the end of the Cardinals season, the less likely a change will be made?
"I think generally that's probably right. If you're gonna do a Head Coaching search, you'd like to get started sooner. No one's been hired, it's been two weeks. If the Cardinals did decide to make a change, it wouldn't be too late but who would be the answer?" Let's say you fire Kliff, who would stop the skid, then what offense do you run? You know that Kyler thrives in this offense. It's a risk heading into Year 4. Your franchise quarterback that you're looking to do a big, new deal for. What if he's not the same? Lots and lots of questions."
For the full interview, you can listen here: