Keim: Cooper took advantage of opportunity

Posted by Darren Urban on September 19, 2016 – 8:13 am

Last week, Steve Keim talked about the sky falling after the loss to the Patriots. This week, the Cardinals’ General Manager played off the theme, noting that despite getting into the office before the sun was up Monday, “there didn’t appear to be a cloud in the sky.”

Such is the reaction after a 40-7 win Sunday. The vibe tends to be better. Mostly, Keim — during his appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7 — saw positives, including the play of cornerback Marcus Cooper. It doesn’t hurt that Cooper was acquired for a seventh-round draft pick in 2018, a cheap price even if the Bucs’ performance ends up being Cooper’s best. Keim said Cooper was high on the Cards’ potential trade list in the preseason. (That includes not only scouting players, but also guesstimating what players teams might be willing to give up or cut at some point.)

Cooper has the length the Cards like and a “feel for the game,” Keim said.

“He’s just a savvy guy,” Keim said. “I don’t want to anoint him as the next coming of Deion Sanders quite yet, but at the same time, very excited with the way he played.”

— Keim said he was “still extremely high” on rookie cornerback Brandon Williams. He thought Williams played well Sunday in limited defensive snaps. “I have no concerns that Brandon won’t develop, but still, it’s nice to see competition at the position.”

— The only reason rookie DT Robert Nkemdiche was inactive Sunday was because of the ankle tweak he suffered late last week in practice, Keim said. He added Nkemdiche should be back this week.

— Right tackle D.J. Humphries played well, Keim said, and added that right guard Evan Mathis was the “epitome of a pro” for coming back from his foot/ankle injury.

— Keim liked the game nose tackle Xavier Williams played, as well as fellow nose tackle Corey Peters. Keim said moneybacker Deone Bucannon had an excellent game.

— Early in the game, Keim admitted he wanted the pass rush to get home more often, but felt that the pressure eventually started getting to Bucs QB Jameis Winston even without sacks, given how many passes of Winston came out high. “I thought Chandler (Jones) did a nice job being disruptive, even though it didn’t show up in the sack column until later in the game,” Keim said. “I think they got into Jameis’ head enough.”

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27 Responses to “Keim: Cooper took advantage of opportunity”

  1. By Matt on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    Loved seeing Arians get Palmer out of there sooner than last year. Darren, do you think Palmer injuring his finger late in Eagles game has Arians thinking more conservatively with him this year?

  2. By Darren Urban on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    Matt —

    RE: Palmer

    No. I just think it was circumstances Sunday.

  3. By georgiebird on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    It is amazing how the first two weeks have gone.
    In the first week, the Cards defense was surgically outsmarted and confused by the Pats short passing game.
    Against Tampa, the Cards defense was able to control the long passing game as well as control Winston.
    I’m sure Cooper replacing Williams was a big part of the reversal.
    My concern as a Cards’ fan is can the defense handle both the smart offensive opponents who can confuse us and pick us apart as well as the more talented but more undisciplined offenses as they showed yesterday.

  4. By georgiebird on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    We all know that Larry is a HOF and still a go to receiver. But is there a chance that-right now- Jaron Brown could be the best receiver on this team?

  5. By TLT fka DTL on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    Hard not to have watched Cooper, he seemed always around the ball (btw, such a humble guy). His field awareness unreal, a la Honey badger. One game, but still…

    Q: How could a team quit on a high character guy with so much upside?

    #SMH Keim does it again.

    PS: won Loyalty auction for OFE, On Field Experience (as opposed to GFE on Starz 😉 Beyond cool…there are two, Sidelines Experience and OFE, OFE had us in the helmet bubble with cheerleaders and team before entrance, then had us line up with cheerleaders on field as players announced, entered…lol is all I can say…and thanks Cards…
    PSS: got yelled at and a forearm from very large Sheriff for being in path of Color Guard as escorts rushed us off the field post National Anthem, all part of OFE, lol

  6. By John The Draft Guy on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    My take about the CBs from my seat in the stands;

    – On the first two series, Williams was out there and we played a lot of zone. I saw guys open but Winston, to my surprise, was very inaccurate. I thought, here we go again. Then, he got greedy and took a shot deep at PP when we went man. One of the dumbest passes as receivers were open underneath.

    – It was almost like Winston was going to show we are not afraid of you PP, which was a mistake.

    – third series, the cards went with Cooper and went to man with blitzes, like they have played the last 3 years. Cooper gave them the ability to take chances, send blitzes and man up. What I liked most about Cooper was the way he competes for the ball on every pass. He wants to make a play.

    – Keim is absolutely wrong. Williams did not look better. He came back in late in the game and would have given up a big play but Evans dropped the ball down the sideline. Evans had both hands on the ball but played volleyball with it. The guy should not be on the field except special teams.

    – Thank God Cooper stepped up so we can get Williams off the field. Beside the two picks by Cooper, he plays on top of the receiver, is physical, and competes. How he plays the rest of the year is still a question mark, but I liked his approach in this game.

  7. By John The Draft Guy on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    Wow was Palmer on. Two passes were just amazing.

    1. The TD that was not a TD to Fitz. That was about 35+ yards pass but it was the hardest ball I have seen Palmer throw. Unless you could see it in person, you have no idea the zip that ball had on it. Palmer’s arm strength is not getting weaker, it might be getting stronger.

    2. A pass down the sideline to DJ. DJ runs a wheel route I believe and Palmer throws it over the defender and in before the safety got there. It was like dropping in a trash can on a back of a cart driving down the sideline. It was a pretty a pass as you can throw.

    I heard a lot of people on the radio and even on this post say Palmer is our issue and Palmer needs to go. That is one of the dumbest things anyone could say. This guy makes throws that no one wearing a cardinal uniform, in the 25 years I have had season tickets, can make.

  8. By b2bsing on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    Oops….I’m sure Steve Keim had just a slight slip of the tongue…I know he didn’t mean to say….”I don’t want to anoint him as the next coming of Deion Sanders quite yet,”….when he meant to say…”…I don’t want to anoint him as the next coming of Aeneas Williams quite yet”

  9. By Steve on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    Darren and JTDG: I feel better about our CB situation with the play of Cooper, granted it was one game but he sure made a statement. The best thing for Williams is to have competition and continue learning, hopefully just being a part-time player for now. I am also interested to see what newcomer Tharold Simon adds to our secondary. Darren, do you anticipate Simon getting some snaps against the Bills next Sunday?

  10. By Darren Urban on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: Simon

    Hard to say. The week just started.

  11. By John The Draft Guy on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply


    Fair question if you said, Besides Fitz, is Jaron Brown our best receiver? That is legit and frankly I would answer yes.

    But Fitz is still the King. The TD he caught with the DB trying to hold down one arm and draped on his back was pure Larry. There was another sideline catch he made laying out that has become so routine, people just expect it. But most of all, when he makes a play, the team, coaches, and crowd all feed off of it. There is no one else like Larry.

  12. By D on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    Yes, Palmer can throw those great passes, but he should also have around 4 Ints the past two games..his accuracy has been off, hate to nit pick after a great win, but those errant throws against a Carolina or a Seattle will cost this team if not corrected..

  13. By John The Draft Guy on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply


    If I am reading you right, that is a very legit question. Can the defense hold up against the good, smart offenses? Only time will tell.

    With this “All or Nothing” push for the superbowl, just beating the Tampa’s of the world may get us to the playoffs, but to win it all, there are some good teams we have to match up against.

    My concerns are this;

    1. CB. I like Cooper’s play. Love the way he competes for the ball. Size, length looked good, but what happens when he gets tested vertically? If Marquis Goodwin gets matched up against him next week, can he hang? If so, the cards are a lot better than 7 days ago.

    2. Honey Badger – The Badger needs to be at 100% for this defense to thrive. It might just take time, but I want to see him out of center field and more on the slot receivers and see Branch off the slot and in center field. When the Badger makes plays, this defense will compete.

    3. D Line – This is a big one. Yes, they play great against the run. But I am not seeing any push on passing downs. I noticed Golden and Jones get the corner only to have Winston step up in the pocket and the rusher was just rode on by. I think they need to keep blitzing the A gaps with the LBs to help get some push and allow Golden and Jones to get home. But I think Campbell, Nkemdiche, Gunter, and crew have been disappointing to a degree on passing downs.

    I think #1 may be answered. #2 will be answered in the next few weeks. #3, well that is a concern to me, but if Cooper and Badger and locking down (along with PP), the A gap Blitzes will help with #3.

  14. By John The Draft Guy on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    One other thing, Tony Jefferson is playing at a Pro Bowl level.

    Not locking him into a long term contract is going to cost the cardinals. Huge mistake. This guy is becoming one of the top young safeties in the NFL.

    Cooper was MVP of the game simply because he allowed the defense to get out of the zones and play cardinal football. But a close 2nd is Jefferson who after 2 games leads the team for tackles. He just is fearless and makes plays.

  15. By Kevin S Mesa on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    JDTG —

    On Palmer, exactly. He does, occasionally, make a bad pass. They all do.

    But when he threw that ball that was nearly picked in the end zone, I heard some fans behind me grumbling about Palmer. I didn’t say anything, but I was about 90% sure that the problem was DJ running the wrong route. Sure enough, that gets confirmed later, so what looked like Palmer throwing a ball right into the defender’s hands (but, fortunately, he didn’t make the play) was in fact on our receiver.

    People don’t understand a precision passing game. Palmer is often throwing the ball to a spot, and if he puts it there and the receiver turns the wrong way, Palmer looks like an idiot when it wasn’t his fault at all.

    Palmer had a rough start here — as did the team — adjusting to the new offense. If I remember right, we were 3-4 after 7 games in 2013 and then finished 7-2. Then Palmer was 6-0 the next year, and 13-3 last year. So, basically, the guy is 26-5 in his last 31 starts going into this year. Yeah, he wasn’t good in the playoffs, but come on, people.

  16. By Kevin S Mesa on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    I think Georgiebird makes a good point. Our results on defense were much better, but how much of that was playing a lot better and how much of that was TB playing into our hands?

    What happens when a team follows NE’s blueprint — will our D be able to handle it?

  17. By John The Draft Guy on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply


    Errant throws or receivers running wrong routes?

    A Qb can’t wait till the receiver is open before throwing it. They have to anticipate the play. If the receiver runs the wrong route, everyone is yelling at Palmer’s bad pass. But is it him?

    DJ ran the wrong route and almost cost Palmer an INT. Last week the receivers were not playing well. There were several times Palmer threw to a spot and the receiver went elsewhere. As Arians put it, besides Larry and Jaron, the other receivers didn’t help at all.

    So, just remember, a pass takes not only protection and a good throw, but a receiver running the right route or making the right read. So, the correction is, if the receivers run routes like they did, the Seahawks and Panthers are going to pick the ball.

  18. By Tony Jefferson on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    Is it just me or does Tony Jefferson not seem to get enough respect from either Keim or Arians? Another AMAZING game from Jefferson and after his year that he had last season I was totally caught by surprise that we didn’t resign him. Is there any discord between him and the coaching staff or anything? Something that we don’t know about? Cause dudes a straight up baller.

  19. By Dynosoar on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin S. Mesa and JTDG,

    Your comments about throwing to a “spot” makes what i saw last night from a former Rams QB even more impressive. The Vikings have there replacement of 5 weeks and he looks better than he ever did with the Rams (although, most of his Rams career was spent injured.)

    This was a sweet game. I’d love to listen in on a joint news conference with Arians and Rex.

    1-1 and going for 2-1.

  20. By mitchaz on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    The Cardinals played fast and loose this week, perhaps aided by Carson Palmer showing up in a hilarious Ghostbuster’s outfit, having lost the week’s trash can toss.

    This was a performance that repelled the ghosts from last year’s NFC Championship game versus Carolina. Since that game the Cardinals have appeared to be lost in a ghostly trance—that is until this game where they basically reversed the script, forcing 5 Bucs’ turnovers and scoring from a variety of crowd roaring ways.

    Speaking of scripts, it is no secret that BA and Carson Palmer script the first 30 plays on offense—and because of the Cardinals’ recent slow starts on offense, perhaps it might be wise to go into games with a less scripted approach. One of the reason is that Carson Palmer appears to be somewhat robotic at times—throwing to anticipated spots rather than adjusting to what the defense is doing to slow down or re-route the WRs.

    BA always wants to start fast—maybe he and CP need to be a little more spontaneous.

    There’s still no question that the Cardinals are first and foremost a passing team. Yes, they try to achieve balance between the running and passing games, but it is pretty clear that even when they have 1st and goal from the 1 and a half yard line, they prefer to pass.

    While I, THESMEL and many others find this frustrating and feel as if the Cardinals make things harder on themselves, the truth is that CP made it work, especially on that nifty 3rd and goal TD pass to Michael Floyd.

    Larry Fitzgerald is playing with superb bounce and focus—BA and CP are relishing play action passes where they fake the run to David Johnson and then look for him downfield on out passes or wheel routes—and now Jaron Brown finally got that perfect TD pass over the top, having preceded that play earlier on in the game by a key third down conversion on a deep fake post, out pass where John Brown had perfectly threatened the Bucs’ secondary deep.

    As for the Cardinals running game—it just doesn’t appear that the o-line is getting clean blocks up front. Part of the reason, imo, is that they take such small splits that they don’t give themselves enough space to get the proper angles on their blocks—widen those splits a little and that could change. Evan Mathis’ down block on the Chris Johnson TD was a textbook sleigh ride.

    Good to see BA rest Palmer, David Johnson and Fitzgerald, but regrettable that he left Mathis in there as he appeared to re-aggravate his foot injury.

    On defense—the Cardinals were much faster to the ball, much more physical and fundamental in their tackling. Tony Jefferson deserves a new contract—he is a core player who is setting the tempo.

    The pass rush wasn’t very strong, pressure-wise, but they did stay disciplined in their lanes so that Jameis Winston didn’t have clear escape paths. Regardless, it seemed that because of the sensational crowd noise and very sticky pass coverage, Winston was looking harried and was rushing his throws.

    What’s strange is that still when the Cardinals blitz they get picked up too easily. The coaches have to find a way to make the blitzes less predictable.

    Marcus Cooper was the carpe diem player of the game on defense. In my pre-game post calling for playmakers I was wondering if the Cardinals would have any big surprises—and he was the biggest surprise.

    He made it look easy—he kept the plays in front of him, made timely breaks on the ball, had his hands ready at all times—and when they tested him deep, he was stride for stride.

    Another player who played well was DE Josh Mauro—whose inside/outside versatility was very evident in this game.

    However, the game changing play without question was Pat P’s superb interception just when it was looking as if the Bucs were on the move and poised to take an early lead in the game.

    That play got the crowd roaring and it gave the Cardinals some much needed swag.

    Equally important was the improved aspects of the Cardinals’ special teams’ play. The cover teams led by the Pro-Bowl version of Justin Bethel were nails. Drew Butler boomed some punts. John Brown had one nifty return. And Chandler Catanzaro was on target, save for another rushed kick off a sloppy snap and hold.

    So now it is on to Buffalo and the first road game of the year. One has to wonder what movie or cartoon character is going to be boarding the plane this week!

  21. By Scott H on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    I wrote a good long post earlier today and I am just finding out now it must not have gone through. Dang it. But along the way, I think everything has been said, so I’m not doing that whole thing over again.

    The win was a very strong, dominant win and I felt like I really needed to see them get back to playing like this. Isn’t it nice when you take control of a game early, put the other team in a hole, and start to dictate the game to them? Ah, yes it is. I hear some people saying that we started slow but fact is, we had a nice lead at half time and there was a feeling of the Cardinals being very much in control at that point. The Buccs scored early in the 2nd half but my feeling never really wavered and we took control again very quickly.

    As to the question of is Jaron Brown the best WR on the team right now? I say no but might he be the best WR on the team right now NOT named Larry Fitzgerald? To THAT question, I would have to say yes until or unless someone else steps up. I think Jaron is making a case to be a legit replacement for Floyd if Floyd has another season during which he seemingly under-performs – and then makes un-reasonable contract demands after it is over. But for the moment, let’s just be glad Jaron is here and playing as well as he has and let’s not over-react to any of this right now. Really, he had two catches yesterday. Yes, the long TD was thing of beauty, but should a 2-catch game make him the best WR on the team? I gotta see more. But he is making a case for more playing time. And I hope he gets it.

    As for Floyd, is he a better WR than we are seeing so far? Absolutely. But….geez, he has to stop waiting for the 2nd half of the season before he starts to turn it on. I keep waiting for him to take over as the dominant force at WR on this team. And I’m still waiting.

  22. By Scott H on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    Man, a LOT of injuries around the league yesterday. Must be tough to be a Vikings fan these days. They lose their QB but find Bradford – who played well last night – and it looks like they will be OK….and then they lose AP. You could only feel like the football gods have it in for you when that happens.

    Browns, same thing. They lose RGIII, fall back on Josh McCown ( a better QB than Griffin, anyway ), and now HE is hurt. But I gotta say, that is their fault. They should have drafted Wentz, knowing they have a solid veteran QB in McCown, and never bothered with RGIII. That was just a horrible decision on their part.

    And I would say the Pats, now losing Garoppolo, but…..we know the Patriots will continue to be good, no matter what. I can’t really find a whole lot of sympathy for them!

    But staying healthy during a Sunday when so many other teams took significant hits is another win for us.

    Love the win but it’s already behind us. Got an east coast trip coming up against a team that is quick-strike dangerous on offense and probably more than a little salty after a 0-2 start. They need a win and they are gonna go hard to get one. The Cardinals have given two very different presentations so far. We will see which one seems more representative this week.

    Back to work. Stay focused. Don’t let up. I don’t think the Bills are going to go off the rails like the Buccs did. As BA said in the locker room, they are going to have to work harder than they have so far to get a win on the road. That is the right message for him to give. We’ll see if it resonates.

  23. By cardsbaby on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    So far Chandler Jones has been almost nonexistent. Sure he has some stats, but they have not come in crunch time. I made a point to watch him periodically at the game yesterday and he was getting pushed around and even pancake blocked and the O lineman just sat on him. Very frustrating to see. If he plays like this all year it will be very easy to decide what to do with his contract extension, unless he will sign for a low guaranteed number with a lot of incentives built in.

  24. By Scott H on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    cardsbaby –

    RE: Jones

    I hear ya, but….he wasn’t gonna have 10 sacks in the first 2 weeks. Still plenty of time for him to be the player we want him to be. Two weeks in, he has 2 sacks and a fumble recovery. Not bad. Heck, one sack per week gets you 16 sacks and that would put you among the league leaders. I feel a twinge of disappointment, too, but it’s too soon.

    He also can’t single-handedly solve our pass rush needs. I was hoping for more of a team effort. But let’s not bail on him after 2 games.

    And like you say, it’s a contract year for him so….if he doesn’t play well, he hurts himself. Bottom line, I hope Chandler Jones makes our decision at the end of the season a REAL easy one – play so well we have to keep you OR so far below expectations that we know we’re moving on, spending our money elsewhere. None of this in-the-middle stuff. And no playing poorly for 12 games, then going off for the last 4.

  25. By Richard L on Sep 19, 2016 | Reply

    Let’s give Cooper his props! Outstanding performance. Keim changed the trajectory of this team with a 2018 pick.

  26. By clssylssy on Sep 20, 2016 | Reply

    BA asked for a week and I, for one (it seems the only one), am VERY pleased with the results. We now,at least, look as if we may be in the same book, if not always on the same page, and the class has his attention! Now, we just need to get better week-by-week and eliminate the errors
    Keim also has found us some reinforcements for the secondary in the form of Cooper and possibly the guy from Seattle, Simon, who I still think could be a real find, having had a previous playing experience with PP, HB, and Minter at LSU. Between these guys we should have the needed depth to take us well into the playoffs and do some very creative things with subpackages while the Badger is getting back to full health and Williams is coming along. Now, that’s what I’m talking about!
    We are just past the two game mark and we have people already trying to dismantle the team with their doomsday “what if’s”…”what if Tony Jefferson wants Tyran Manthieu money?, what if Floyd wantw Dez Bryant money(seriously)?, what if Fitz decides to retire?” Can we take it one game at a time and cross those bridges later? All I’m concerned with is this season and getting a ring.
    Palmer may not be perfect all the time, but he’s one of the best in the NFL and we’re damn fortunate to have him; we need to protect our key assets so that they last through the season and we are so rich in talent, the challenge is really how to best capitalize on it gaining maximum value. Seems like the key is in balance and consistency. While “going with the hot hand” is the philosophy and provides consistency for awhile, perhaps changing up the mix would not only serve to give us fresh legs but also be an option for playing those football intelligent teams with different looks that keep them guessing.
    There are things Chris Johnson does better than David, like finding the skinny holes tp get through, Tony Jefferson can be an interim HB/emerging RJ, and PP now will get a run for his “shutdown corner” title and, Jerrud Powers is challenging the receivers to raise their game. LOL, Who has it better now?
    This week we get road tested and let’s hope we don’t forget how bad we were in game 1, when we hadn’t yet found the same playbook, let alone the right page.
    Good TEAM effort top to bottom. On to Buffalo with new lessons in mind.

  27. By Big Ken on Sep 20, 2016 | Reply

    Right on Richard and that’s why you trade a late round pick instead of waiting for a guy to be cut. And I’m sure it’s not as simple as that either. Kudos to SK.

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