Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim (left) and coach Bruce Arians before a game this season.
Steve Keim can't help it.
The Cardinals' General Manager understands his team is 6-2 after the first half of the season and holds a two-game lead in the NFC West. These are good things, he understands. Yet the first thing he thinks of, given the talent he sees on both his roster and coaching staff, are the missed opportunities.
In that way he is very much like his coaches and players. They too have said the same.
"You know some of those mistakes we made will be far more critical against some of the teams we are about to face," Keim said Tuesday, as the Cardinals resumed practice following the bye.
"You can't get too high or too low. You can't get too excited about your team or too down about certain aspects. You have to have faith in the core players in our locker room, and when you look at Carson (Palmer) and Larry (Fitzgerald) and the addition
of Chris Johnson, those guys are playing at a high level. We have the utmost confidence in those guys in the locker room. And it's a mature group. … They are all hungry and want to do well. It's about putting the time in. When you see guys like Larry and Carson, who are so hungry to win a championship, it permeates through your locker room."
Keim's job has provided less stress than last season. That is helped when the starting quarterback hasn't missed time and other key parts are healthy.
In fact, as the Cardinals head into their showdown in Seattle on "Sunday Night Football," only starting center Lyle Sendlein (shoulder) is questionable to play. Otherwise, all the players the Cardinals were counting on at the outset of the season will be available.
Keim acknowledged the Cardinals have had to bring in fewer players for tryouts the first half of the season. High-profile free agent linebacker Sean Weatherspoon has barely played defense because Kevin Minter and Deone Bucannon have been so consistent and available.
The hardest injury the Cards suffered in the first half of the season was the calf problem of Alex Okafor, but the Cards made up for his three-game absence with the signing of Dwight Freeney – who has two sacks already.
"We're not playing as many guys off the street as we did last year and that helps with cohesiveness," Keim said. "Injuries are part of the game, and you just hope we continue to be relatively injury-free. It helps going into a season when you realize you
can never have enough depth.
"When you are building your roster you can't be so concerned about who your starters are, but look at your depth chart and think, if Jared Veldheer goes down, who are we playing with? If Kevin Minter goes down, who are you playing with? If we are playing with that next guy, it can't be such a significant drop-off that it will cost us a game."
As for Keim's top priority – the rebuilt offensive line – the GM sees the group much like he sees his team: Potential that hasn't quite been reached. The sacks are down, he knows, but he is still hoping the communication issues get resolved.
"In the second half I think you'll only see it get better and better," Keim said.
Keim also said while it was good news first-round pick D.J. Humphries hasn't been needed and that progress has been made in his game, "we have expectations of him and that's on him."
When Keim took the GM job, he noted that one of the thoughts in his head was the Cardinals' harsh 58-0 loss in Seattle in 2012. Less than three years later, the Cards go to Seattle to start a difficult second-half of the season nevertheless prepared with a healthy, talented and deep roster sporting a two-game lead in the division.
"You look at our team and the makeup of the roster, and you see a lot of balance," Keim said. "At the same time, there needs to be more consistency. This is going to be a rough stretch. It's going to be challenging. But that's what you are in this business for. It's exciting. You want to play against the best teams."
Images of General Manager Steve Keim, who received a contract extension on Monday