TEMPE, Ariz. -- If this feels like déjà vu for the Arizona Cardinals, there’s good reason.
Five years ago, when then-newly minted general manager Steve Keim and team president Michael Bidwill embarked on their first coaching search together, they had, essentially, a clean slate: no coach and no quarterback.
They quickly found a coach in Bruce Arians and, a few months later, a quarterback in Carson Palmer -- a duo that helped Arizona accomplish its best five-year stretch in team history.
Now Keim and Bidwill are at it again, and Keim thinks that’s the way the franchise should approach the search this time around.
As the two begin their second search together in the wake of Arians’ retirement on Monday, they’re not just looking for Arians’ replacement, they’ll also be looking for someone who can -- or who will hire someone who can -- groom a long-term solution at quarterback.
“I don’t know necessarily ‘need to,’ but at the end of the day, having your next franchise quarterback is no different from finding the next head coach and that’s going through the process, being true to it, and at the end of the day, you usually know in your heart who the guy is,” Keim said. “The biggest thing is that we just have to make sure we aggressively approach it and take that on.”
The Cardinals' next coach will need to have three traits, Bidwill said: be a “leader,” have a “track record of performance” and be able to “keep this culture of accountability moving forward.”
When it comes to a track record of performance, Bidwill wants to see a history of winning with “different places, different personnel, different things.”
Whoever is hired will be inheriting the league's sixth-ranked defense, running back David Johnson and the 15th overall pick. There’s also a chance the new coach could quickly be faced with losing his star receiver and starting quarterback if both Larry Fitzgerald and Palmer retire -- or one of the two.
As the Cardinals’ search begins with a short list of six interview requests, the Cardinals hope to approach it with the same pace as in 2013.
“When we hired Coach Arians, there was all sorts of urgency,” Bidwill said. “I think there were seven coaches hired that year, and he was the seventh.
“I’m glad we didn’t get caught up like it’s a race or something because I think we made the right decision by being patient, following our process, which is going to be thorough, and we’re going to do the same thing again.”
As Keim goes through the hiring process for a second time, he has a better understanding of what it takes to hire a new coach. He also learned a lot from his first coaching search, much of which he can employ this year.
By interviewing candidates from various teams, Keim thinks he can learn about how other organizations work internally.
“You’re always trying to look at self-growth and, how can you get better as a franchise,” Keim said. “And to me, this is a great opportunity for Michael and I to get out there and learn more about other teams.”
But, the first time around, he also learned some basics, such as how to conduct an interview, which questions he should ask. That experience, coupled with the past five years, has prepared Keim to tackle this coaching search differently than he did his first.
“Some of the things along the way that have happened in my tenure as a GM that I wasn’t prepared for or was all new to me that I can impress upon this coach that, ‘If this happened, how would you handle this? How would you deal with it?’ and the same type of questions that Michael would ask as well,” Keim said. “Make sure that once we face adversity, are we going to be on the same page? Are we going to stay in your lane? And again, so many experiences that I’ve gone through now put me in a better position to be able to ask those type of questions, and I know Michael feels the same way.”