There is no good cause for an NFL staff to hire Kliff Kingsbury as its head coach. There is not even a believable dangerous purpose to hire Kliff Kingsbury. Kliff Kingsbury himself had to be shocked when his agent referred to as to let him know that an NFL staff had curiosity in interviewing him. Had he thought it was a risk, he wouldn’t have signed on to turn into the offensive coordinator at USC.
Let me be clear: I don’t begrudge Kingsbury this final finesse. Truthfully, I’m impressed and admire his ingenuity. Thanks to the success of Sean McVay, we’re in a younger, good-looking, offensive genius bubble, the good marketplace for Kingsbury to promote himself. And as the saying goes: You solely want one sucker.
However I can’t perceive how the Arizona Cardinals arrived at this decision.
Whereas I feel the logic that underpins the typical method the league goes about hiring head coaches is deeply flawed, and I’ve written in nice element about it, I perceive how groups can persuade themselves that they’ve discovered the proper man. The justifications for many head coach hires are as follows:
- Retread: The candidate had some success doing this job elsewhere. With the correct help and the worth of earlier expertise, he can reproduce and enhance on that degree of success.
- Completed coordinator: This candidate was nice at technique, play design and playcalling for one aspect of the ball. Whereas these expertise will not be immediately relevant to the necessities of a head coach, being good on one aspect of the ball or the different is clearly helpful.
- Championship proximity: This candidate was on the employees of a winner. And presumably he is aware of how to duplicate the tradition and circumstances that facilitate success.
- Step up: This candidate has succeeded as a head coach in school or in a special professional soccer league. So, he ought to give you the option to do it in the NFL.
Arizona Cardinals workforce president Michael Bidwill (left) and common supervisor Steve Keim (proper) introduce new head coach Kliff Kingsbury (middle).
Norm Corridor/Getty Pictures
None of those reasons apply to Kingsbury, who was fired from Texas Tech after a 5-7 marketing campaign in 2018. For many who would excuse Kingsbury’s dropping by stating how troublesome it is to win at Texas Tech, that’s true, however since when is failing at a spot like Lubbock a springboard to certainly one of the 32 most coveted jobs in teaching? Oh, and Kingsbury’s two predecessors have been additionally extra profitable than him at Texas Tech. Mike Leach had a .661 win proportion from 2000-2009, adopted by Tommy Tuberville’s three seasons with a .541 win proportion. So, it’s not inconceivable to win at Texas Tech. Kingsbury is truly the solely Texas Tech head coach since Jerry Moore (1982-1985) to finish his tenure in Lubbock with a dropping report.
And if, as all of us suspect, the Cardinals try to copy their division rival, the Los Angeles Rams, and discover their very own Sean McVay, they’re specializing in the flawed attributes.
As offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins in 2016, McVay’s unit was sixth in EPA in the NFL. This previous season, Kingsbury’s Purple Raiders offensive EPA was good for 34th in all of school soccer and fifth out of 10 groups in their very own convention. So, opposite to what you’ll have heard, he is not an offensive guru. The pass-happy, air-raid offense he runs might definitely work in the NFL, however it is not new; lots of the rules that when made it particular when it was first innovated by Mike Leach in the early ’90s at Iowa Wesleyan have lengthy since been adopted by NFL groups. He brings nothing new to the NFL and hasn’t had a monitor report of offensive innovation.
However perhaps that’s not what the Cardinals need from Kingsbury. Perhaps they need him to carry out some McVay-esque magic on their second-year quarterback Josh Rosen. McVay earned his title as a quarterback whisperer by reworking Jared Goff from the worst quarterback in NFL historical past to a professional franchise quarterback in only one season. Although Kingsbury has been round lots of good quarterbacks, there is no proof that his affect has improved them. He definitely appears to have a very good eye for recognizing expertise. He picked Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes when few different packages thought they have been ok. However Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma after an injury-plagued freshman season, the place he turned a Heisman winner, the eventual No. 1 decide and at present the greatest quarterback in his draft class. Mayfield has gotten progressively higher each season he strikes farther away from Kingsbury. Which isn’t essentially Kingsbury’s fault, however a quarterback whisperer it doesn’t make him.
Mahomes, on the different hand, put up monster numbers in his three seasons underneath Kingsbury. So Kingsbury deserves some credit score for “whispering” to Mahomes. However how a lot of that translated to Mahomes placing up monster numbers in his first season in the NFL? Perhaps Mahomes is only a monster. Had Mahomes come to the NFL and develop into a bust, perhaps we’d marvel what Kingsbury was whispering at Texas Tech to get a lot out of him. As an alternative, I’m questioning why they gained solely 5 video games in Mahomes’ ultimate and greatest season at Texas Tech.
Kliff Kingsbury had a 5-7 document throughout his final season at Texas Tech.
Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Pictures
Kingsbury is additionally credited as a quarterback whisperer for what he did with Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M and Case Keenum at Houston. Manziel was a gifted participant, however by no means conformed to the Kingsbury offense. Manziel didn’t grow to be an NFL-ready passer underneath Kingsbury. For my part, Keenum is the one shining instance of Kingsbury’s potential to get the most out of a quarterback. With Kingsbury as his coordinator, Keenum was a Heisman candidate. As a senior he threw for five,631 yards 48 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Granted this was towards Convention USA expertise, however spectacular nonetheless. Nonetheless, with these numbers, NFL groups didn’t deem Keenum gifted sufficient to draft. Which tells me that NFL scouts decided it wasn’t Keenum’s expertise carrying that offense.
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However even when I give Kingsbury 100 % of the credit score for Keenum’s 2011 school success, that has by no means been sufficient to get an NFL head teaching job. It couldn’t even get him a university head teaching job. Kingsbury was set to be USC’s offensive coordinator if the thirsty Cardinals didn’t swoop in. Although he’s not in Convention USA anymore, there is sparse proof he can get the most out of Rosen.
There is nonetheless one other huge drawback. He has by no means been the head coach of a staff with an excellent protection. Not even an honest protection. His groups’ cumulative defensive EPA over his 5 years in Texas Tech is good for a No. 127 rating.
I do know he is not being employed for his defensive prowess, however he is additionally not being employed as a quarterback coach or offensive coordinator. As head coach, the efficiency of the protection is sort of essential. Hiring a head coach is like marriage in that you’re not simply marrying an individual, you’re marrying a household, or, on this case, a employees.
Probably the most essential employees member for McVay and the Rams was a 71-year-old defensive coordinator with head teaching expertise, Wade Phillips. One would assume Kingsbury can be well-served to add a eager defensive thoughts to his employees. However, based mostly on his groups’ monitor document, I’m fairly positive he doesn’t know any.
For his sake, I hope he meets some good defensive coaches and seems to be the second coming of Invoice Belichick. I’ll have fun him. However even when the end result is good, it doesn’t imply the decision-making course of was sound.
It definitely wasn’t truthful.
Steve Wilks (middle) was fired after one season as head coach in Arizona.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports activities
In the shadow of the Blackest Monday, and renewed inspection of the impression of the Rooney Rule, Arizona has made itself a poster baby for what not to do. The Cardinals fired Steve Wilks, their black head coach, after only one season, which no sane individual would consider is sufficient time to pretty consider a coach. In the meantime, they retained their white basic supervisor, Steve Keim, who put collectively the underachieving staff and was arrested over the summer time for suspicion of DUI.
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And as an alternative of hiring one in every of the dozens of coaches, black or white, whose résumé outshines Wilks’ pretty weak résumé (earlier than turning into Cardinals head coach, he was an NFL defensive coordinator for only one season), they went and located a white coach who is much less certified.
To be utterly truthful to Keim and Cardinals president Michael Bidwell, I’ve spent no time in the Cardinals constructing this season. So perhaps no matter Wilks was doing was so horrible that one other season would have been untenable. And perhaps the poor judgement that landed Keim in jail for suspicion of DUI is utterly unbiased from the judgment wanted to construct a championship staff. However, even when all of that is true, that doesn’t change the details. In a league that has recognized the hiring practices of its groups as an issue, the Cardinals prematurely fired a black coach and changed him with an unqualified white coach.
They’re free to make these selections, in fact. And we’re obligated to deliver their inconsistencies and obvious biases to mild. However this story gained’t finish right here. Firing Wilks after one season and retaining Keim suggests the Cardinals consider Wilks grossly mismanaged the expertise acquired by Keim, and nicely undershot their win expectations. Now, all eyes shall be watching how the Cardinals deal with Kingsbury at the finish of subsequent season ought to they underachieve once more.