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Steve Keim dismisses idea that playoff expectations put added pressure on Kliff Kingsbury

Steve Keim became the Cardinals’ General Manager in 2013. Two years later, the Cardinals made the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to the Panthers. The team has not made the playoffs since.

The Cardinals, on paper, have their best team since 2015, which is why Keim feels “probably as good as I’ve felt about a team probably since 2015.”

“I feel like we have a chance to be a really good football team, but we have to execute,” Keim said on his weekly radio appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7, via Darren Urban of the team website.

It reiterated what Keim said earlier this week about having “no doubt” the Cardinals are a playoff team. So, what if the Cardinals don’t make the playoffs?

Keim’s comments seem to put “win-now” pressure on the shoulders of coach Kliff Kingsbury. Keim, though, dismissed a question about how big of a year it is for the team’s third-year head coach.

Keim wants to focus on the excitement going into this season rather than possible disappointment at the end of the season.

“Expectations are high, not only locally but also nationally, and certainly within our building,” Keim said.

Kingsbury, who was 35-40 in his six seasons at his alma mater, Texas Tech, went only 13-18-1 in his first two NFL seasons. Now, he has a star-studded roster and great expectations.

That prompted a follow-up question to Keim about what he needs to see to bring back Kingsbury in 2022.

“I don’t look at it that way,” Keim said. “I look at the positives. The changes we have made with the players in that locker room. Self-policing the locker room with the accountability stuff. J.J. Watt. A.J. Green. Rodney Hudson. Matt Prater. Guys who have been there and done it. Those young guys on the roster, the Zaven Collinses, the Rondale Moores, those guys get to a point where they are seasoned pros by midseason not only because they have been in the NFL for a few months, but they have been around true pros. That, to me, is what is exciting to see, and then the ascension of Kyler Murray and all he has done.”

Kingsbury, for his part, also brushed off any talk about his future and any extra pressure he faces in 2021.

“I think going through being the head coach at your alma mater and getting fired, it’s kind of walking through fire in this profession,” Kingsbury said this week. “So, after going through that, not too much really fazes you.”