There isn’t any good cause for an NFL workforce to rent Kliff Kingsbury as its head coach. There’s not even a believable dangerous cause to rent Kliff Kingsbury. Kliff Kingsbury himself needed 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 develop 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. Because of the success of Sean McVay, we’re in a younger, good-looking, offensive genius bubble, the right marketplace for Kingsbury to promote himself. And because the saying goes: You solely want one sucker.
However I can’t perceive how the Arizona Cardinals arrived at this choice.
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Whereas I feel the logic that underpins the traditional approach 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 correct man. The justifications for many head coach hires are as follows:
- Retread: The candidate had some success doing this job elsewhere. With the right 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 instantly relevant to the necessities of a head coach, being good on one aspect of the ball or the opposite is clearly invaluable.
- Championship proximity: This candidate was on the employees of a winner. And presumably he is aware of easy methods 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 have the ability to do it within the NFL.
Arizona Cardinals staff president Michael Bidwill (left) and common supervisor Steve Keim (proper) introduce new head coach Kliff Kingsbury (middle).
Norm Corridor/Getty Photographs
None of those causes applies 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’s to win at Texas Tech, that’s true, however since when is failing at a spot like Lubbock a springboard to one of many 32 most coveted jobs in teaching? Oh, and Kingsbury’s two predecessors have been additionally extra profitable than he was at Texas Tech. Mike Leach had a .661 win proportion from 2000-09, adopted by Tommy Tuberville’s three seasons with a .541 win proportion, so it’s not unattainable to win at Texas Tech. Kingsbury is definitely the one Texas Tech head coach since Jerry Moore (1982-85) to finish his tenure in Lubbock with a dropping document.
And if, as all of us suspect, the Cardinals try to repeat their division rival, the Los Angeles Rams, and discover their very own Sean McVay, they’re specializing in the improper attributes.
McVay’s unit was sixth in anticipated factors added (EPA) within the NFL when he was offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins in 2016. This previous season, the offensive EPA for Kingsbury’s Pink Raiders 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 isn’t an offensive guru. The pass-happy, air-raid offense he runs might definitely work within the NFL, however it isn’t new; most of the rules that when made it particular when it was first innovated by Mike Leach within 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 document 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 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 reliable franchise quarterback in only one season. Though Kingsbury has been round plenty of good quarterbacks, there isn’t any proof that his affect has improved them.
He definitely appears to have a great 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, gained the Heisman Trophy as a senior, was chosen No. 1 general within the 2018 NFL draft and is at present the most effective 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, however, 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 within the NFL? Perhaps Mahomes is only a monster. Had Mahomes come to the NFL and turn out to be 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’ remaining and greatest season at Texas Tech.
Kliff Kingsbury (proper) coached Patrick Mahomes (left) at Texas Tech.
Michael C. Johnson/USA TODAY Sports activities
Kingsbury can also be 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 he by no means conformed to the Kingsbury offense. Manziel didn’t turn out to be an NFL-ready passer underneath Kingsbury. For my part, Keenum is the one shining instance of Kingsbury’s potential to get probably 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-coaching job. It couldn’t even get him a university head-coaching job. Kingsbury was set to be USC’s offensive coordinator if the thirsty Cardinals didn’t swoop in. Though Kingsbury’s not in Convention USA anymore, there’s sparse proof he can get probably the most out of Rosen.
There’s nonetheless one other massive drawback: He has by no means been the top coach of a workforce with a superb protection. Not even an honest protection. His groups’ cumulative defensive EPA over his 5 years in Texas Tech is sweet for a No. 127 rating.
I do know he isn’t being employed for his defensive prowess, however he’s additionally not being employed as a quarterback coach or offensive coordinator. As head coach, the efficiency of the protection is type of necessary. 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 an important employees member for McVay and the Rams was a 71-year-old defensive coordinator with head-coaching expertise, Wade Phillips. One would assume Kingsbury can be well-served so as 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 rejoice him. However even when the result’s 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
Within 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 to not 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 group and was arrested over the summer time for suspicion of DUI.
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And as an alternative of hiring one of many 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’s much less certified.
To be utterly truthful to Keim and Cardinals president Michael Bidwill, I’ve spent no time within 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 judgment that landed Keim in jail for suspicion of DUI is totally unbiased from the judgment wanted to construct a championship group. However, even when all of that’s 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 convey their inconsistencies and obvious biases to mild. However this story gained’t finish right here. Firing Wilks after one season and maintaining 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 on the finish of subsequent season ought to they underachieve once more.