The season began with Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury firmly on the hot seat. He immediately cooled things down with an unexpectedly strong start to the season. Now, however, the Cardinals have followed a 10-2 record with three straight losses — and four in a row at home. While the Cardinals have punched a ticket to the postseason, it’s fair to wonder whether a failure to reverse the current slide will result in Kingsbury slipping back into uncertain status as December becomes January.
It wouldn’t be unprecedented for a coach to get a pink slip after a playoff loss. It happened most recently to Titans coach Mike Mularkey after a divisional round loss to New England in 2017. It also happened to Broncos coach John Fox after the Broncos lost at home in the divisional round of the 2014 playoffs, to the Colts. It happened to 49ers coach Steve Mariucci after a divisional round loss in 2002. It happened to Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy after a loss in the wild-card round in 2001.
Could Kingsbury be gone if he loses the next three games? Lose to the Cowboys on Sunday, lose to the Seahawks in Week 18, lose in the wild-card round. Could that get the Cardinals to move on?
It definitely won’t set Kingsbury up for a market-value extension, one that seemed inevitable not long ago when he was wisely coy about potential interest in the then-vacant Oklahoma job. If nothing else, it could set him up for a lame-duck year during which he’ll have to earn a second contract.
Or it could get the Cardinals to simply move on. Remember, this is a franchise that has ripped through coach after coach after coach after coach over the last century. No one has held the job for more than six years, with Jim Hanifan and Ken Whisenhunt sharing the record.
So will Kingsbury be out after three seasons? If he loses the next three games, it can’t be ruled out.