As the coaching search for teams with vacancies starts wrapping up, the Arizona Cardinals have filled all but one of their major jobs. The new head coach is former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, and the new defensive coordinator is former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph. With these two spots filled the team looks to be shaping up nicely, but the OC position is still a question mark.
In an attempt to find the next Sean McVay the Cardinals have hired 39-year-old and first time NFL coach Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury was an offensive coordinator for Texas A&M and Houston before becoming the head coach at Texas Tech. Kingsbury coached Johnny Manziel during his Heisman year, Baker Mayfield when he walked on at Tech and Patrick Mahomes. If these names tell you anything, it is that the Cardinals believe that Kingsbury is a quarterback whisperer. Kingsbury went 35-40 at Texas Tech before being fired in November and then was hired as the offensive coordinator at USC in December. When the Cardinals fired their head coach and most of the staff, they wanted Kingsbury to have an interview. After USC lifted the block on NFL teams interviewing him, he was hired in Arizona.
Arizona had an awful 2018 season and decided to replace the defensive minded Steve Wilks with the offensive minded Kingsbury. This hire confused me at first because Kingsbury has no NFL coaching experience and only six years of head coaching experience total. It looks like the point of this hire was to help with Josh Rosen’s growth and with a growing emphasis on offense in the NFL Kingsbury seemed like an interesting choice.
With the defense being the only part of the Cardinals that worked last season, the team wanted to bring someone with experience in to run them. When I heard Vance Joseph was hired for the job I was excited. Denver’s defense was strong under Joseph. He is also bringing back the 3-4 defense that made the Cardinals one of the most frightening teams in the league. Wilks did away with that system when he came and implemented the 4-3. Joseph also gave me confidence because of his ability to help Kingsbury grow as a head coach.
Joseph was fired by the Denver Broncos after the season ended. He coached the Broncos for two seasons and finished with an 11-21 record. He has coached in the NFL since 2005 and will undoubtedly be a huge in helping bring back the dominant defense.
The Cardinals have filled up their staff with Bill Davis coming in as the linebackers coach, David Raih is the wide receivers coach, Steven Heiden is the tight ends coach and Brian Natkin as the assistant offensive line coach under Sean Kugler. Davis and Heiden have experience in the Cardinals organization, Raih was a coach under Kingsbury at Tech and Natkin and Kugler are experiencing their first time with the system. Former Atlanta Falcons OC Steve Sarkisian was speculated as the Cardinals choice for their coordinator position, but he is taking a job at Alabama instead.
The coaching staff is starting to come together for Arizona, and after last season the pressure will be on for Kingsbury and his staff. It would be unlikely that the Cardinals would fire everyone after one year again, but the general manager and president of the team obviously want immediate results. Kingsbury probably has a couple of years to turn this team around, and to do so everyone in the organization has to buy into what he says.
Could Kingsbury be the next Sean McVay? Probably not, but he has an experienced coaching staff around him and a veteran core of players. If Kingsbury wants to be successful he has to make Josh Rosen, and the pieces around him better. His first big move will be during the draft, and whoever the Cardinals take first overall will be a factor in what the future of the franchise looks like.