After 2 years, Arians, Keim get raise they didn't ask forPosted: Updated:
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- As NFL coaches and general managers go, Bruce Arians and Steve Keim already make up quite a tandem.
So much so that after only two years in their jobs, they've been given contract extensions, and a big raise in pay, that both say they didn't seek.
"Flattered," Arians said at a news conference with Keim on Tuesday. "It's extremely generous of (Cardinals President) Michael (Bidwill), unexpected. Obviously, you thank Michael because he didn't have to do it, but thank the players for showing up for work every day and making something like this possible for me.
"Obviously, thank Steve and the entire organization because everybody in the building helped get us a raise, so first round's on me."
Keim said he and Arians' successful working relationship starts with respect.
"I think after you get past the respect factor, it's having clearly defined roles," Keim said. "When I say clearly defined roles, we stay in our lane. He does his job, I do mine. When you don't cross those lines, they don't get blurred. Around the league when you see those lines get blurred, internal dysfunction follows."
Keim and Arians were hired a few days apart, taking over a team coming off a 5-11 season, including losing 10 of its last 11.
With an immediate roster overhaul and ongoing changes since then, the Cardinals went 10-6 in 2013 and, despite a raft of injuries, 11-5 in 2014, earning an NFC wild card berth.
"He and I have a lot in common," Keim said, "not only personalities but expectations in general. Looking at today, for example, I can tell you right now he and I aren't satisfied. We've won 10 games, 11 games. All that says to me is we made some improvements. But now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back."
Both know of other franchises where the relationships didn't go so well.
"When their coaches and their GMs can't get along, it implodes," Keim said. "Not only does it implode at the top, it becomes infectious in the locker room. He (Arians) and I were talking about it the other day. It's such a simple deal, simplistic idea to stay in our lane and have clearly defined roles, but so many organizations have issues with that."
The new contracts run through 2018 with a team option for 2019.
The Cardinals have made more than 400 roster moves since Keim became GM, the most recent the release of wide receiver-kick returner Ted Ginn Jr.
Expect many more to follow in the coming weeks and months.
"I know in my heart that we've got the best coach in the National Football League," Keim said, "so once we can continue and grow and develop this roster, we're just going to get better and better."
Arians was named AP coach of the year for last season, an award he also won two years ago as interim coach of the Indianapolis Colts while Chuck Pagano fought leukemia.
His late-career rise to be considered among the best head coaches in the game came after the Pittsburgh Steelers more or less forced him into "retirement" as offensive coordinator after the 2011 season. Pagano called to give Arians a job, then came the unexpected time as interim coach of the Colts.
That led to his hiring by the Cardinals. At age 60, Arians had his first true head coaching job, a role that obviously fits him well.
As a head coach, Arians has compiled a 30-14 record.
"You couldn't write that script," he said. "Nobody would believe it. Nobody would buy it, that's for sure."
Keim has worked for the Cardinals for 15 years. He well remembers a time when Arizona was an NFL doormat.
"It seems like a lifetime ago," Keim said. "Not only the way we've worked internally as an organization, but I think maybe the sense of pride. ... Our fan base, it's been amazing how much they have grown. When I go out and I see a sea of red and all the people stop coach and I on the streets and congratulate us and want pictures - you can't put a price on that. To see where we were and how far we've come is all very special to me."