INDIANAPOLIS – In many ways, Steve Keim and Bruce Arians were still trying to find their way around their new jobs a year ago heading to the NFL’s Scouting combine.
Keim was the Cardinals’ new general manager and Arians the new coach, and while both had been to the combine plenty over the years, they hadn’t done it like this. Or with each other.
Now, the duo – along with their respective staffs -- has been working together for 13 months. They have put together a roster and built a team that won 10 games. Going through it a second time will be, not surprisingly, easier.
“The biggest thing is having a year together and us seeing how the scouts evaluate, scouts seeing how the coaches evaluate, going through free agency and the combine, it’s night and day realizing the type of players we are looking for,” Arians said.
Keim arrives in Indianapolis today, with his time scheduled to address the media coming Thursday morning. Arians gets to town Thursday with a Friday morning media date. The press
There will be the usual interviews with potential draftees and watching some of the individual workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium. But Keim will also be meeting with agents as he tries to work out new deals with some of the Cardinals’ free-agents-to-be so they can be retained before the free agent period begins March 11.
“Where we are now from a roster standpoint I feel we are significantly better shape than we were last year at this time,” Keim said. “There are still needs at different positions in terms of starters as well as depth, but I feel we have fewer holes.”
Over the past couple of weeks, Keim and his staff have been busy running free agent meetings, building a board similar to a draft board to plot out potential targets. Arians and the coaches take part in some of those meetings too, although there has also been a lot of time spent on breaking down every single play from the 2013 season.
“You put them on a reel, evaluate them,” Arians said. “Were we asking guys to do things they couldn’t do? Was a play good or bad? Was it because of technique or errors? You evaluate every every pass, every run.
“Some are so far back you’ve forgotten about them. It’s just a reminder. You can see, ‘Oh, this guy wasn’t that good but he got a lot better.’ You see guys get better, or some guys got older, and you see it in that framework.”
The hard part was putting together a team without knowing how it would play out within the Arians-as-coach context. A year in – and a successful year at that – will only make the process more smooth.
“Not only do we have a better feel for each other in terms of working relationships, we have a better feel for our roster collectively,” Keim said. “That’s the most important aspect. A lot of times the hardest part of the transition is the assessment of where you are at currently and the areas you need to improve.”