With the Arizona Cardinals eliminated from playoff contention, is Kliff Kingsbury really the right man for the job?
Earlier this season, the Arizona Cardinals were in first place in the NFC West with a 5-2 record, with one win coming in overtime against the Seattle Seahawks just before their Week 8 bye. They looked like instant playoff contenders at the time and many lauded the work of head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Fast-forward to Week 17, the Cardinals lost 18-7 to the Los Angeles Rams and officially handed the Chicago Bears the final Wild Card spot in the NFC. Arizona’s remarkable skid has many wondering: Is Kingsbury truly the right man for the job?
Questions followed Kingsbury immediately in Arizona
Following a disastrous 2018 campaign, the Cardinals parted ways with then-head coach Steve Wilks after one season on the job. Granted, Wilks felt like a last-resort hire for Arizona, considering the “better” candidates of Matt Nagy and Pat Shurmur were already hired (yikes). With the first-overall pick in their grasp, the Cardinals needed to find a coach who could replicate the success that Bruce Arians brought to the desert for five years.
So, they decided to hire Kingsbury, who was pegged as the “next offensive genius” at the NFL level, a term that’s usually becomes a death sentence for a head coach. The Cardinals weren’t the only ones infatuated with Kingsbury, as the New York Jets were the first team to interview him. Yet, Arizona’s decision left many puzzled, given his track record at the collegiate level.
Kingsbury spent a total of six years as the head coach of the Texas Red Raiders and got to work with some tremendous quarterbacks in Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes. Yet in that span, Kingsbury managed to compile a 35-40 regular-season record and a 1-2 record in bowl games.
Despite that, the Cardinals believed he was the right man for the job. Not only that, but he convinced the front office to move on from Josh Rosen so they could select Kyler Murray with the first overall pick. Kingsbury’s first season ended in a 5-10-1 finish, but that was considered a rebuilding year. This season, the Cardinals were expected to win, considering they gave Murray stud wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to target downfield.
Sure, the Cardinals did have a top-five offense in the league this season, but it didn’t result in the necessary wins. They lost winnable games against the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers following their bye week! That can be credited to some of the plays called by Kingsbury, which came to light during their must-win game against the Rams. Look no further than the fourth quarter, where the Cardinals were down by 11 points and faced a third-and-18 situation. Instead of throwing a deep pass, Kingsbury called an option pitch, which resulted in a significant loss of yards. To make matters that much more confusing, he did so with Murray, who was dealing with a significant ankle injury!
Are the Cardinals going to part ways with Kingsbury this offseason? Probably not. But what is a given is that he’s going to be expected to bring the Cardinals to the playoff next season. If not, he’ll be handed his walking papers.