Kliff Kingsbury had a strong season as the head coach of USC in 2006, but he’s run into some trouble since being hired by Arizona.
Kliff Kingsbury was hired by the Arizona Cardinals in 2016. He led them to a 5-0 start and then they lost their last 4 games of the season. The Cardinals finished 8-8, which is not good enough for playoffs.
Kliff Kingsbury, the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, runs a lively offense and is the franchise’s youthful and hip face. Following a defeat to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football, real doubts about his ability to win a huge game should be raised.
The Cardinals may have lost the NFC’s top seed, but they’ll still be in the playoffs. The issue now for Arizona is whether Kingsbury can win a huge game.
As a coach, he has yet to respond to that question, which is worrisome for the Cardinals as the playoffs near.
Kliff Kingsbury has never won a huge game before.
The Arizona Cardinals’ head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, looks on during the first quarter of their game against the San Francisco 49ers at State Farm Stadium | Norm Hall/Getty Images
To be honest, Kingsbury’s appointment was a bit of a puzzle. After six seasons as head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, he was dismissed. Kingsbury was recognized for managing one of college football’s most dynamic attacks, but his teams were all flash and little substance. Although the Red Raiders were entertaining to watch, he finished 35-40 as a head coach and was only bowl eligible three times, with a 1-2 bowl record.
In his first season, Kingsbury’s best win was a Holiday Bowl victory against Arizona State. Aside from that, Texas Tech had a losing record in four of his six seasons in Lubbock.
As a head coach, he was uninspiring, but as an offensive coordinator for USC, he made sense. He has the potential to be a great offensive coordinator. That’s why, when Texas Tech fired him, the Trojans hired him, but a few weeks later, the Cardinals gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Of course, he accepted the position. Being a head coach in the NFL is vastly superior than being a coordinator in college, regardless of how worthy of the position you are on paper.
Kingsbury finished 13-18 in his first two seasons as an NFL head coach despite having an explosive offense and one of the most dynamic athletes in the league in quarterback Kyler Murray. Arizona has had a strong start to the season, with a record of 10-3, but Kingsbury’s track record raises some serious concerns.
That’s particularly true after the Cardinals lost a crucial game at home to the Rams, giving up possession of the NFC’s top spot.
Kingsbury has little experience coaching in a postseason setting.
The Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray #1 and head coach Kliff Kingsbury wait on the sidelines after a 37-20 victory against the Los Angeles Rams | Harry How/Getty Images
The Cardinals’ Week 4 triumph against the same Rams they lost to on Monday night is possibly the greatest win in the Kingsbury era of Arizona football. Los Angeles was on fire at the moment and seemed to be a Super Bowl contender early in the season. The Cardinals surprised the Rams, who were previously unbeaten, 37-20, at SoFi Stadium.
The Cardinals’ performance was remarkable, and it cemented their status as an NFC contender. The trouble is, it seems like the season’s high point right now.
The Cardinals were overwhelmed by the Packers on Thursday Night Football at home against a weakened Green Bay club that was without numerous stars, including Davante Adams. The Packers won 24-21, but that result makes the game seem much closer than it was. Going up against Matt LaFleur, another third-year coach, Kingsbury didn’t have many answers.
Consider that in his three seasons in Green Bay, LaFleur has a 38-11 record and has led the Packers to two consecutive NFC Championship games. His team is also on the verge of wresting the No. 1 seed from Arizona. Over the same time frame, Kingsbury is 23-21-1.
Arizona’s next major opportunity to establish itself as the NFC’s best team came against the Rams on Monday night, and the Cardinals botched it. Murray not only failed to deliver a touchdown pass, but he also threw two interceptions and was on the verge of throwing many more with the game on the line. The Cardinals let up three touchdowns to Matthew Stafford and had no answer for Cooper Kupp, who caught 13 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Kingsbury and the Cardinals had a huge game coming up, but they botched it.
Is that unexpected at this point?
Among the NFL’s best coaches, Kingsbury is in over his head.
The Arizona Cardinals’ head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, stands on the sidelines during the second half of the NFL preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs | Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Kingsbury deserves a lot of credit for leading the Cardinals to ten victories and a playoff berth. They’ll reach the playoffs in his third season, which looks fantastic on paper, but does anybody really expect the former Texas Tech head coach to out-coach Bruce Arians, Kyle Shanahan, Sean Mcvay, Matt LaFleur, or even Mike McCarthy in the NFC playoffs?
This is a coach who has never made it to the playoffs. Furthermore, there is no evidence that he can go toe-to-toe in a huge game.
What we do have is his fourth-quarter effort versus LA.
With 5:24 remaining on a 4th-and-1 at the Rams 37, Kingsbury chose to call an ill-fated run up the middle to James Connor rather than trust Matt Prater, one of the NFL’s greatest legs, to kick a field goal to make it a seven-point game. On downs, the Cardinals were stuffed and turned the ball over. They ultimately regained possession and scored the three points, but only with 37 seconds remaining in the game.
Yes, Arizona recovered the onside kick and had a chance to tie the game in the last five minutes, but Kingsbury completely botched the situation. If he had gone for three points earlier in the game and LA had still punted on the following drive, the Cardinals would have only been down seven points instead of ten, and they would have had a lot more time to work with. In order to have a shot, Kingsbury practically pushed his offense to play one additional series, demonstrating that he was in over his head with McVay on the other sideline.
That was on national television in front of a large audience, with the NFC’s top seed on the line. Should we anticipate anything different once the playoffs begin?
When you’re attempting to amuse a crowd, smoke and mirrors, flash and excitement are all good and wonderful. However, such things do not win Super Bowls. They don’t even make it to the playoffs. The Cardinals must still establish that they can swim in the deep end and accomplish something significant against the league’s top teams. Kingsbury’s club is dynamic and dazzling.
Doesn’t it sound a little like Kingsbury’s tenure at Texas Tech? Arizona will suffer as a result of this.
ESPN and Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
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Kliff Kingsbury, who has been the head coach of Baylor University for the past 10 years, is not a trustworthy leader. He has led his team to four consecutive losing seasons and he was fired in December 2016. Reference: kliff kingsbury 1920 hat.
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