The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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Do the Cardinals Problems Start at the Top?

Michael Bidwill is a good NFL owner. In his time running the family business, Bidwill has upgraded facilities, become a power broker in the NFL ownership club, publicly represented the Cardinals well, greenlit innovative projects like “Flight Plan”, spent money on free agents, taken care of current and former players in ways past Cardinals teams didn’t always do and generally improved every area of the Cardinals organization.

In other words, he’s been the opposite of Robert Sarver.

He still might be the problem.

It’s a different kind of ownership problem for a Phoenix sports team. The potential problem with Michael Bidwill is unlike the Dbacks problems with Ken Kendrick, or the Suns with Robert Sarver or the Coyotes with every owner they’ve ever had.

This isn’t an issue of competency or dysfunction or frugality. It’s an issue of culture and accountability.

The Cardinals are a solid NFL franchise but often times they act like they are the Southwest Patriots. The Cardinals wrapped up just their 7th season above .500 since they moved to Arizona. They’ve now been in the desert for 34 seasons.

Let’s narrow it down to this season. I don’t need to remind you how poorly the Cardinals season ended but after watching the Chiefs and Bills game, I’m not convinced the Cardinals brand of playoff football is the same species as the Chiefs or Bills.

Instead of acknowledging this, the Cardinals continue to try and hide behind their early season success.

All season long, we’ve heard a lack of accountability from head coach Kliff Kingsbury and it’s filtered down to Kyler Murray. Rarely did we hear the Cardinals publicly hold themselves accountable or demand more.

In fact, even now Michael Bidwill can’t help himself from handing out “atta-boy’s!” for the season.

Bidwill's comments started at totally reasonable until he finished with this line:

“We had a lot of great success in 2021. I don’t want to take away from that, but we can get better and that’s what we’re working on now.”

A lot of great success? Really? No one cares about what your record was in November if you collapsed in December and were humiliated in the playoffs on Monday Night Football.

Michael Bidwill should’ve echoed JJ Watt’s comments and called the season a massive failure instead of “great success.”

The Cardinals need an owner unafraid of accountability. They need an owner who doesn’t view the team’s success or failure as a personal reflection. They need an owner to create a culture of competition over relationships.

Right now, the Cardinals don’t have any of those things. 

No one involved with the Cardinals is going to be urgently motivated after a performance review includes the words “great success”.

He should be demanding Kyler Murray be coached instead of coddled. He should be demanding success from draft classes instead of embarrassment.

Instead, he’s content with being pretty good and pretending like failures are random bouts of bad luck rather than a direct result of the people he hired.

The Cardinals need Steve Keim to perform better, Kliff Kingsbury to lead better and Kyler Murray to be better.

What they need most of all is Michael Bidwill to demand better.

If he can’t or won’t do that, we need to stop blaming the players, coaches and GM’s and blame the owner.

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