We need to talk about Arizona Cardinals head coach (for now), the “offensive genius” Kliff Kingsbury.
On Sunday, Arizona faced off against Seattle and their #32 ranked defense. The Cardinals managed a field goal on their opening drive. They did not score an offensive point after that.
Hey Kliff, 3 points on offense might have been enough to get a win in Seattle if you were playing the Mariners, but this is the Seahawks, buddy.
I’m not questioning the idea to hire Kliff Kingsbury in the first place, though there were plenty of reasons to question it at the time.
You have to remember, he had just been fired from Texas Tech for not being able to recruit or coach a functional defense.
His offenses were never the problem. In the NFL, you can put the defense in your coordinator’s hands, the recruiting in your GM’s hands, and just focus on doing the one thing that you’ve proven you can do at a high level- manufacture points.
It’s also important to remember that when the Cardinals chose to get into a bidding war with the New York Jets for Kliff Kingsbury, they were coming off having the worst yardage offense and second worst points per game in the last 10 years.
GM Steve Keim didn’t worry about the costs that had been sunk into having Head Coach Steve Wilks and quarterback Josh Rosen in their first years- he blew it all up for Kliff Kingsbury, and paired him with #1 overall pick Kyler Murray.
And for a minute, it worked.
The Cardinals improved in points per game three seasons in a row, going from 32nd in 2018 under Wilks to 11th last year. In both 2020 and 2021, the Arizona Cardinals also had a top 8 offense in total yardage.
Despite the fact that the Cardinals finished 2-4 after the bye last year, and got absolutely embarrassed in the playoffs, Steve Keim, Kliff Kingsbury, and Kyler Murray all got five year extensions.
Fast forward to today, the Arizona Cardinals are 16th in total yards, and 22nd in points per game. Despite leading the league in plays run per drive, they’re outside the top 10 in points per drive.
And they’ve completely forgotten how to start games. They’ve put the ball in the end zone on offense in the first half just twice in the last 9 contests. This game was the first time they’ve scored in the first quarter all season.
At 2-4, the Cardinals are one Hunter Renfrow overtime fumble away from being 1-5, and if we’re being honest, a no-call for offsides that led to a game-changing pick-6 against Carolina gave them a boost that you can’t exactly attribute to the “offensive genius” of Kliff Kingsbury.
If it wasn’t for defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, and a touch of good luck, this team might be winless.
But hey, at least the Cardinals can throw the ball downfield, right? Because that’s the one reason you’d hang on to Kingsbury despite regression everywhere else.
Well, it turns out they only have two 300+ yard passing games in their last 21 games, but not for lack of trying. Kyler Murray is second in total pass attempts this season, but dead last in yards per attempt at 5.8, and he doesn’t have a single passing play longer than 32 yards.
The Arizona Cardinals are paying Kyler Murray Patrick Mahomes money to throw screen passes.
The average air yards of a Kyler Murray pass attempt this season is 6.5 yards.
Kliff Kingsbury turned Kyler Murray into who we thought Jalen Hurts would be, meanwhile Jalen Hurts looks like the NFL’s MVP.
When a coach fails his players with his schemes, the reputation of those players can be irreparably damaged. The narrative about Kyler Murray is being set in stone right now, and it’s going to be extremely tough to change people’s minds.
On Thursday night, the Cardinals will host the New Orleans Saints in an attempt to avoid their 9th consecutive home loss- a streak that started on a Thursday night last year. They’ll have Deandre Hopkins back after serving a six-game suspension for a positive PED test, and unless absolutely everything about the Cardinals looks different, from first-half energy to pushing the ball down the field, it should be Kliff Kingsbury’s last game as Arizona’s head coach.
That is, unless Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim, and the NFL in general have different standards for a white head coach than the black head coach they had no problem kicking to the curb after one season.
At least Steve Wilks never went a full season’s worth of games without getting a win at home.
Let that sink in.