The Kliff Kingsbury Dilemma
The Arizona Cardinals are one of the youngest and most talented teams in the NFL. Despite this, the Cardinals have yet to accomplish many of the lofty goals NFL fans have come to expect of them. Most of the blame for this disappointing era is assigned with head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Kliff has been criticized frequently throughout his four-year tenure with the Cardinals, between his late and post-season struggles and his tense relationship with star quarterback Kyler Murray.
When the Cardinals hired Kliff the move was questioned by many throughout the NFL. Kliff was infamous for his inability to finish seasons strong after strong starts with Texas Tech. Because of this, NFL analysts fully expected him to continue to struggle in the NFL.
In his first season as the Cardinal's head coach, the Cardinals finished with a measly 5-10-1 record which wasn’t exactly his fault as the Cardinals had little talent on both sides of the football and a rookie Kyler Murray leading the way. In his second season as the coach, the team had high expectations following Murray’s Rookie of the Year campaign, and DeAndre Hopkins's arrival to the team. With the addition of one of the best receivers in football, the Cardinals were primed to make some noise.
The Cardinals cruised to the bye in a great position; at 5-2 and 6th in the NFC, just one game back of first place. What could go wrong? The Cardinals dropped 3 of their last 9 and missed the playoffs. The doubt in Kliff’s ability crept back into the minds of analysts around the league.
Despite the disappointment the 2020 campaign presented, 2021 was a new year and the outlook was bright for the Cardinals. The Cardinals didn’t just start out hot, they started the season with seven consecutive wins and looked like legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Then it all came to a halt after a miscommunication between A.J Green and Kyler Murray when Kyler threw a back-shoulder pass to Green in the back of the endzone. Green had no idea the ball was coming his way and Packer’s corner Rasul Douglas ended the Cardinal's undefeated season.
The Cardinals limped to the bye at 9-2, but that wasn’t the end of their struggles. They only won 2 of their last 6 games. The Cardinals still made the playoffs at 11-6 when they should’ve ended in a much better fashion. On top of that, they were absolutely throttled by the Rams in the wild card.
On top of his inability to perform in the back half of the year, his tense relationship with Kyler Murray is a ticking time bomb. Kyler Murray has shown little restraint when criticizing Kliff, especially when it came to his contract which hilariously included “required film study.” With all of the glaring issues, Kliff has as a head coach, I think the best course of action is for the Cardinals to cut their losses and move on. Kliff isn’t a horrible coach by any means, but with the talent he has and his inability to bring the Cardinals to the next level, a head coaching change feels imminent.