The Arizona Cardinals are slowly falling apart. Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks was basically a microcosm of their season. Going into this game, the Cardinals were 1.5 point favorites according to multiple sports-book sites, but somehow this team lost to a Seattle Seahawks team that on paper has less talent than them.
Give Seattle credit, they’re outperforming expectations and are much better than what we thought considering the expectations as a rebuilding team. But the loss to the Seattle Seahawks should signal the end of a frustrating and underachieving era of Arizona Cardinals football. It’s time to end the Kliff Kingsbury experiment. It hasn’t worked out and there is no need to try to fix it.
Offensive Woes in the Desert
After the Arizona Cardinals fired Steve Wilks after the conclusion of the 2018 season, Arizona turned their attention to finding another head coach to help lead the Cardinals to prominence in the NFC West. With the emergence of young innovative head coaches such as Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Shanahan, the Cardinals knew they couldn’t whiff on the next hiring.
Kingsbury was viewed as this “offensive guru” by many experts due to the creative innovations he showed while he was coaching at Texas Tech. However, it hasn’t been that way since he’s been in Arizona. The Arizona Cardinals offense shouldn’t be mediocre with Kyler Murray at quarterback, wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore, and tight end Zach Ertz. The offense relies on dull gimmicks, is predictable and lacks creativity and vision.
Kliff Kingsbury's job is to make this offense good.
Kliff Kingsbury's job is to have this offense on the same page.
Kliff Kingsbury's job, his ONLY JOB, is to make the offense good.
He's crippling the incredibly talented offensive roster the Arizona Cardinals have.
— Alex Clancy (@ClancysCorner) November 6, 2022
When you watch the offenses of the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and the San Francisco 49ers you notice how the offenses are much more creative and dynamic. Creativity entails utilizing the players the right way and playing to their strengths. Kingsbury doesn’t do any of that. It’s clear that his play-calling is costing his team and Kingsbury explored giving up play-calling duties if it could help the team.
Kliff Kingsbury said he wants to do whatever it takes to win. He was asked on @WolfandLuke if that would include considering giving up playcalling.
Kingsbury said yes.
"We will examine all avenues."
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) October 17, 2022
Arizona’s offense has a trend of starting the season hot before fizzling out towards the end of the season. Teams usually have the Cardinals offense figured out by then. Washington Post writer Jason La Canfora interviewed an NFL scout and he gave this answer when talking about the Arizona Cardinals offense.
“The offense, when they need a play, is to wait for Murray to run around and make a big play,” the scout said. “That’s how they win games.”
This statement is true. Whenever the Cardinals have a play that breaks down, Murray tends to use his scrambling ability, something he is known for and uses it a lot whenever the play breaks down.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) November 6, 2022
However, this level of play is not sustainable because teams with great defenses and great defensive minds will find ways to neutralize Murray’s ability to make plays out of structure. Lack of play action and diverse route running from the receivers are also a problem. Currently, the Arizona Cardinals offense ranks this season are middle of the pack.
- 17th in Rushing offense
- 17th in Total Offense
- 20th in Offense EPA/per play
- 16th in Scoring Offense
Relationship with Quarterback Kyler Murray
It’s pretty clear that Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray are getting tired of one another. Despite what they might say, this relationship has run its course. Kyler Murray has been average statistically, but on the field you could notice that Murray has regressed in some areas. Some of the blame goes to Murray, but most of it has to go to Kingsbury.
Kyler with some words for Kilff pic.twitter.com/WusfniEkVf
— Roto Street Journal (@RotoStJournal) October 21, 2022
Kingsbury has done a poor job of helping Kyler Murray during the time he has been the head coach of the Cardinals. Yes, Murray was able to win Offensive Rookie of the Year his rookie year and he has been a pro bowler twice in his career. Kingsbury deserves some credit for it but when it comes to creating an offense that helps maximize Murray’s skillset, he has failed to do that.
If you are an offensive guru, you have to live up to the title that was given to you. Kingsbury and Murray might be close off the field, and that’s fine but I believe the on the field product between Murray and Kingsbury is tarnished.
Lack of growth as a head coach
Aside from the lack of innovative playcalling, Kliff Kingsbury has shown the lack of growth as a head coach. The Arizona Cardinals are an undisciplined team and that falls on coaching. Oftentimes we have seen the Cardinals commit a ton of penalties, either pre-snap or during the actual game. Currently, the Cardinals are third in the league in penalties and since Kingsbury has been with the Cardinals they have been top five in penalties. Kliff Kingsbury has coaching experience believe it or not as he has coached in college with Texas Tech.
The fact that he hasn’t shown any growth since his college days as a coach is alarming. From the penalties committed by the team to the hot starts to the season that turn into late season collapses, Kingsbury hasn’t grown as a head coach. It speaks volumes that he was rewarded with a contract extension this offseason when in reality he had done nothing to earn it. Some may argue that the Cardinals win total improved which led to Kingsbury getting a contract extension this offseason but I feel that Murray’s brilliance got Kingsbury that contract extension instead of Kingsbury earning it on his own.
Will the Cardinals eventually fire Kliff Kingsbury?
As it stands now, Kliff Kingsbury is still the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Currently the Cardinals are 3-6 and if the season ended today the Cardinals would be missing the postseason after making it last season. With the loss to the Seahawks on Sunday, their postseason hopes are on life support. Arizona needed to win on Sunday to not fall behind in the NFC playoff picture. It also doesn’t help that their schedule gets more difficult.
- Week 10 @ Los Angeles Rams
- Week 11 vs San Francisco 49ers
- Week 12 vs Los Angeles Chargers
This team could be staring at 3-9 heading into their bye week and they could be facing tough decisions in regards to the team. If the Cardinals lose on Sunday against the Rams, the Cardinals should fire Kingsbury the following day and give Vance Joseph the interim head coach tag. No need to wait until the end of the season to make a move when the season is already lost.
The last coach that was fired after receiving a contract extension was Jeff Fisher who was coaching the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. Kliff Kingsbury could potentially be the second coach that will suffer the same fate if the Cardinals do not turn it around. Kingsbury could be gone either way, even if it isn’t by the end of the season. It’s time for Arizona to end the Kliff Kingsbury experiment before it’s too late.