How safe is Kliff Kingsbury?

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks
Getty Images

He seemed to be in trouble after a 10-2 start in 2021 became a one-and-out playoff run. Then, amid conflicting reports as to whether the shit did or didn’t hit the fan between Kingsbury and owner Michael Bidwill, Kingbsury and G.M. Steve Keim got new contracts.

The team announced that the contracts last through 2027. No one ever reported (i.e., no agent ever leaked) the value of the contracts. Even then, there’s a chance that not all (or even not most) of the two contracts are guaranteed.

At the time, it seemed like an effort to neutralize the perception that the franchise was teetering toward dysfunction, especially in light of the fact that Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray have the same agent. Now that dysfunction has indeed arrived, with an eight-game home losing streak and an overall record of 3-9 (including postseason) since starting 10-2 a year ago, it’s fair to wonder whether Kingsbury could be on the outs.

He played briefly in the NFL, but he never coached in the NFL. From 2008 through 2018, Kingsbury coached exclusively at the college level. As Chris Simms and I have discussed on PFT Live in the context of failed college coaches like Urban Meyer and Matt Rhule, most of them simply can’t make the transition from success premised on a system that thrives on superior talent. In the NFL, game planning is crucial. Studying the nuances of the opponent’s offense and defense are indispensable. Self-scouting to eliminate tendencies and tells is critical.

How much time do college coaches truly spend studying their own film in order to ensure that they’re staying ahead of any trends that may emerge from their own plays? Kingsbury’s coaching career didn’t include extensive (or any) training on how to crack the other team’s code — or how to avoid having their own code cracked. It was line it up, spread them out, and get the ball in the hands of players who were fast enough to run the route, catch the pass, gain the yards, score the points.

The Kingsbury system isn’t working. The longer he coaches, the more it struggles. And it’s not an issue of calling plays. It’s an issue of play design. The menu is as limited as the three options at the diner in My Cousin Vinny. Other teams have figured it out.

Bidwill will, too. Eventually. If not sooner.

56 responses to “How safe is Kliff Kingsbury?

  1. I don’t have anything against the guy, but he wasn’t even a good college coach. He must have just killed the interview

  2. His seat should be warm. Not hot just warm. He’s done enough imo that he getting fired this year would be silly. Starting hot and going cold is his M.O and Cardinals fault for not doing homework. But at the same time he’s already won a fair amount of games most coaches don’t even do that.

  3. If you’re going backwards, that means other teams have figured you out or you’ve lost the ability to get the best out of your players. Either way, a change has to be made.

  4. Kliff was a bizarre hire in the first place. He had a losing record as a college head coach, so he wasn’t even successful there. He had taken the OC job at USC right before Arizona offered him the job out of nowhere, so even he wasn’t expecting to get another head coaching job.

  5. The question always should have been how he got that job. He was a bad college coach. Steve Keim is no better. How he’s stayed employed is beyond puzzling. Arians often made something out of nothing with what he was handed, and his track record since has been terrible. Who trades a first round pick for Hollywood Brown? His first round pick with Arians never even played for them (Jonathan Cooper).

  6. He’ll last the season, but needs to make the playoffs and win a game. And that is looking doubtful

  7. He should be very safe, but at the same time, should have not gotten the job in the first place. How many other well -qualified candidates who paid dues were totally skipped to get to this guy?

  8. Don’t compare KK to Rhule and Meyer. It’s unfair and blatantly ignorant. He took a 3-13 team, improved every year, and made the playoffs. He has faired better than most predicted. However, Florio is right in what he says, the code is cracked and there is no plan b. KK has been found out, and it’s time to go, he has reached his ceiling and it’s only downhill from here.

  9. The Kingsbury hire was a knee-jerk reaction to other team’s success having some wunderkind come in and shock the world. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad idea, assuming ownership has an escape hatch if things go wrong.

    They’ve gone -horribly- wrong.

    I wanted him to succeed, but he hasn’t. There’s only so much dressing up a pig you can do before you realize, damn, it’s still a pig.

    Time to move on.

  10. Kingsbury is partially to blame, but it also seems like Kyler Murray has Let’s Ride syndrome. Russell Wilson is short and can’t see the middle of the field and Kyler Murray is short and rarely throws to the middle of the field. I expect defenses have just figured Murray out, and as Russell Wilson is proving, it’s very difficult for an offense to scheme for plays to the outside when the defense knows that’s what you’re doing. Kingsbury needs to go, and so does Kyler. He’s not the quarterback we thought he was, he’s just still got legs so he looks better than Russ.

  11. The team sunk with Hopkins out. If they improve when he returns, Murray might save him for at least another year but the defense has to improve as well …

  12. He’s got a weird mystique where he seems to be well thought of despite never having won anything. I don’t know if the Cardinals are underachieving, or if they were never actually good in the first place.

  13. Like most others, he’s safe as long as he wins. If he loses, he’s not safe. Most teams allow for a losing season, with 3 being the maximum. The problem for the Cardinals is that there is a window to maximize with Murray. Murray’s athleticism is the key to his success. When injuries start piling up that diminish his athleticism, there may be an issue. So do the Cardinals act with haste to maximize Murray’s athletic window?

  14. If he gets fired which he should then Keim needs to go to, Murray is a bust (can’t win the necessary games) that was just sign to a max contract, Rosen is an epic bust, Wilks was a mistake and fired after one year and then he hired Kliff who was a proven failed coach in college from a mid-level college where no other colleges even gave him sniff after he was fired to be a HC; these are all on Keim’s decision making paradigm.

  15. I’m not so convinced Kingsbury is the pinnacle of the problems in Az.
    Look a layer deeper,… Keim. He hired KK. He drafted Murray at KK’s request. They need to find the core of the issues,… I think it’s Keim.

  16. At Texas Tech 19-35 in conference and 35-40 overall. Winning isn’t everything, but sub .500 in college is not a resume’ for a head coaching job. Elite assistant coaches around the league must get nauseous looking at this unqualified imposter.

  17. He’s been proven to be a horrible coach in all phases of football. Looking like he spent a long time in the mirror he’s top 3 coach in the NFL for sure. The guy had a losing record in his college coaching career so this was a terrible hire from day 1

  18. I think the GM needs to go as well as the coach. But what are the chances of ownership doing the right thing?

  19. So what college coaches have made the leap straight to NFL HC and been very succesful? Jimmy Johnson is a hard yes. Pete Carroll can’t count because he bounced back and forth and had assistant coaching jobs in the NFL on the way up. Barry Switzer got a ring but hard for me to give him too much credit.

    Anybody other than Jimmy?

  20. Schism Lateralus says:
    October 20, 2022 at 3:32 pm
    So what college coaches have made the leap straight to NFL HC and been very succesful? Jimmy Johnson is a hard yes. Pete Carroll can’t count because he bounced back and forth and had assistant coaching jobs in the NFL on the way up. Barry Switzer got a ring but hard for me to give him too much credit.

    Anybody other than Jimmy?

    —————————————————–

    Dick Vermeil. Was HC of a Rose Bowl winning UCLA team that upset a great Ohio State team (when winning the Rose Bowl meant something) and then took over a really bad Eagles team in 1976 and got them to the Super Bowl in four years, had a winning record, then after a 15 year hiatus, won a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams

  21. Kingsbury has been way more successful than anyone thought and way more successful than Meyer or Rhule and a ton of other college coaches who got an NFL shot. In 2018 prior to KK that offense was historically bad. With Kliff they made leaps in 19 then better in 20, made the playoffs in 2021. I agree that he needs change now and adjustments ASAP 100%, but he’s been better that anyone thought he would be. If they become a dumpster fire the rest of this year then maybe he’s fired but I don’t think he’ll be fired during the season.

  22. If the Cards move to a more varied and complex offensive scheme, won’t Mr. Superior Cognitive Ability have to make reads and decisions in this more difficult game plan? Good Luck with that.

  23. Cards owner is a wuss. He’s afraid to fire Steve Keim or Kliff. Sadly for Cardinals fans.

  24. orivar says:
    October 20, 2022 at 2:10 pm
    His seat should be warm. Not hot just warm. He’s done enough imo that he getting fired this year would be silly. Starting hot and going cold is his M.O and Cardinals fault for not doing homework. But at the same time he’s already won a fair amount of games most coaches don’t even do that.
    ——————————————-
    Perhaps you should look at the teams they are beating. Most don’t finish the season with a winning record. No surprise then when they get to the playoffs and get blown up. 2-4 this season. The 2 wins are by teams with current losing records. The Cards were still losing to both of those teams at halftime and had to come from behind.The 4 losses are against teams with at least a current .500 record, or better.

  25. Hes safe for the year if he can stay around .500 and if they finish around .500 that probably buys him another year. Not that thats good but its the Cardinals, and they dont really have high expectations. I think it would take a complete collapse like 3-5 win season for him to be out.

  26. Worth pondering: The Seahawks, with years of defense practicing against a short mobile quarterback, have defended the Cards – with a mobile but even shorter QB – quite well the past few years, even when other offenses have torched Seattle. The rest of the league watches not only Cards tape in general but probably Seahawks-vs-Cards tape preparing to defend them.

  27. Sean Peyton doesn’t want this job. Kyler ain’t the QB he wants to tie his fortunes to….

  28. The problem is the short qb limits passing options. He can’t work the middle of the field because he can’t see it. You would have to be an offensive genius to make a guy that can’t see a third of the field work.

  29. So he took over the worst team in the league. Improved their record every year and got them to the playoffs. He is 2-4 and you guys say fire him. Wow man.

    Stefanski is Cleveland is the one that needs to go. He is actually costing them wins with his decisions

  30. If the Cardinals are thinking of firing Kingsbury, before any leaks come out that they’re leaning in that direction they should trade/offload/dump Kyler Murray because he’s a system quarterback. Oh sure, he can run Kingsbury’s system but we’ve all seen when forced to stay in the pocket he’s horrible and can’t cut it in the NFL. So before his stock dumps, the Cards would be much better off trading him at his apex value and getting as much return as they can. Once Kingsbury’s fired, Murray’s stock dumps and teams can just sit around and wait for his inevitable cutting.

  31. They were hoping to build off last year’s playoff appearance. It won’t be easy to explain away a huge dropoff from that, particularly given how they struggled down the stretch even last year. Teams seem to have figured both Murray and Kingsbury’s offense out. He’s a dead man walking even if he somehow survives this season.

  32. Kyler is not the answer! Kliff is not the answer!

    Everybody knows you need a QB of substantial height and build. Also you need to look beyond the college ranks for your coaches because your Matt Rhule’s don’t get to experience “NFL Adversity” in college football. You just don’t get a good diversity of coaches from the college ranks.

  33. Without DeAndre Hopkins, Kingsbury has been unable to simply have Murray scramble out of pocket & launch deep passes. It seems like that has been the only offense the Cards were ever able to muster up. Kingsbury is in way over his head & Murray can’t see up over his….

  34. Schism Lateralus says:
    October 20, 2022 at 3:32 pm
    So what college coaches have made the leap straight to NFL HC and been very succesful? Jimmy Johnson is a hard yes. Pete Carroll can’t count because he bounced back and forth and had assistant coaching jobs in the NFL on the way up. Barry Switzer got a ring but hard for me to give him too much credit.

    Anybody other than Jimmy?

    **********

    Coughlin

  35. Not very the way his QB just undressed him on the sideline before the half. The lunatics are running the asylum.

  36. Coughlin
    ==========

    7 years as an NFL assistant, including a Super Bowl win, before taking the BC job.

  37. Dick Vermeil
    ==========

    Two stints with the Rams before his two years at UCLA.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.