Steve Wilks on offensive philosophy: Establish the run

INDIANAPOLIS -- Cardinals fans should brace for a major philosophical change on offense under new coach Steve Wilks.

After watching Bruce Arians' aggressive aerial attack for the past five years, Arizona faithful will have to get used to a run-oriented offense with the new regime.

"We want to be productive, number one, in running the football," Wilks told reporters Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Everything we do is going to start up front."

Wilks highlighted 2016 All-Pro David Johnson as the obvious focal point, hoping that a strong running game will open up downfield shots for his team's next quarterback.

A defensive assistant under Ron Rivera in Carolina, Wilks watched the Panthers' ground attack function as the offensive foundation for a playoff contender in four of the past five seasons.

"This is a pass-happy league," Wilks emphasized several times. "It's my philosophy as a head coach -- I believe in establishing the run. And that's what we're going to do."

While the up-and-coming Rams and 49ers are building around promising young quarterbacks such as Jared Goff and Jimmy Garoppolo, it's Wilks' intention to bring the NFC West back to the series of smashmouth showdowns that propelled the Jim Harbaugh vs. Pete Carroll rivalry to the NFL's forefront a half-decade ago.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim also spoke Wednesday. He's what we learned from him:

  1. Keim echoed Wilks' sentiment that Arizona will aggressively explore every avenue toward acquiring quarterbacks, from free agency to the draft and even potential trades. Both men touched on the desire to add a veteran as well as a promising developmental prospect at the sport's most important position.
  1. The organization has big plans for tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, who showed flashes of potential down the stretch last season.

"Ricky last year showed that he can become a mismatch in the passing game, athletically, stop-and-start suddenness, his ability to create mismatches ... He is, to me, a guy who's just now scratching the surface and is a player that we're really excited about moving forward."

  1. Even with wideouts John Brown and Jaron Brown due to reach free agency in the coming weeks, Keim isn't ready to hand a starting job to 2017 third-round pick Chad Williams. Although the former Grambling star possesses a "tremendous amount of talent," Keim explained, Williams is still polishing his routes and learning all of the wide-receiver positions so he can process information at a faster rate and improve his play speed.

"Really that, to me, is where Chad is going to make the most leaps and bounds this offseason," Keim added.

  1. If Adrian Peterson's roster spot is in jeopardy, Keim isn't prepared to make that decision just yet.

"There's no doubt that Adrian still has some juice left in the tank, particularly from a run-skill standpoint," Keim said. "He still runs with a lot of anger and aggressiveness, and has the type of contact balance you look for in that position. But in today's day and age, we all know that you have to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield, you have to be able to do a lot of different things. So versatility is really a key."

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