Kliff Kingsbury is holding back the Arizona Cardinals
By: Chinmay Kulkarni
The Arizona Cardinals were the power-ranking darlings early in the regular season. Four months later, the supposed powerhouse in the NFL stands as the number one fraud team in the league. Don’t get me wrong, the Cardinals are still a good team – having a good roster, a great quarterback, excellent running game, and superb pass catchers. If football were played in an excel file with only stats and figures, the Cardinals would be Superbowl contenders. Unfortunately, football is still a sport highlighting the human element, a sport of talent and skill.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury is a huge part of the problem of his team’s late-season woes, making some head-scratching decisions in crunch time. The Cardinals are amid a three-game skid, losing to the Rams, Lions, and Colts consecutively.
Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is the sign of madness, and likewise, Kliff Kingsbury is 100% an airhead that has little football knowledge and zero ability to adapt. As the Cardinals head coach, he’s started seasons 3-3-1, 5-2, and 7-1, only to fall to 2-7, 3-6, and 3-5 respectively each year. It’s evident that teams figure out his schemes, and last season’s collapse from the upper echelon of the NFC to missing the playoffs is a prime example that the Cardinals stink from the head down.
A lot of coaches in the NFL make boneheaded decisions – Matt Rhule switching back and forth from Cam Newton to Sam Darnold within a game, Brandon Staley’s addiction to going for it on fourth down, Ron Rivera had 50 points hung over his head – there’s an endless list. Kliff Kingsbury fits this mold perfectly, and his decision-making in the loss against the Lions was staggeringly bad – choosing to go for fourth downs unsuccessfully in the early game, and then kicking field goals when the game was already out of reach. There’s very little consistency in the play calling. Their loss to the Colts was also riddled with penalties, with twice as many penalties as Frank Reich (a good coach) and the Colts, and 85 yards of penalties.
It’s not possible to talk about Kingsbury’s career without mentioning his college career. Why the Cardinals decided to hire a college coach with a losing record is a mind-boggling decision. And not only was he bad in college, but the playbook for hiring a coach from college is littered with those that fail in the NFL – Matt Rhule, Bill O’Brien, Greg Schiano, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Chip Kelly, etc. Judging by Cardinals play, Kliff Kingsbury is set to join the ranks of failed college coaches. It’s difficult to find a Pete Carroll or a Jim Harbaugh that can make a difference and turn around a franchise.
Let’s cut the Cardinals some slack, with big-name injuries piling up. The passing offense took a hit with DeAndre Hopkins gracing IR for the regular season, and the leading TD scorer James Conner being day-to-day for a Week 17 matchup against the Cowboys. Who can forget about J.J. Watt on an already ailing defense?
Looking ahead to the Cardinals schedule – traveling to Dallas in Week 17, scheduling to be a huge matchup for both teams looking to better their playoff seeding. If anything can be indicated from the Cowboys destruction of Washington, the Dallas defense should be able to contain the Arizona offense while moving the ball on offense. Unfortunately, the Cowboys hype train is at an all-time high this week so Dallas will inevitably find a way to screw up like they always do. The already eliminated Seahawks are the last game of the season, one that they should easily win since Seattle has nothing left to play for, barring some big off-season decisions.
There’s not too much of a reason to press the panic button on the Cardinals’ season just yet, but fans notice the pattern and might want to wait before calling this team dead before the date with Dallas. As for Kliff Kingsbury, he’s firmly on the hot seat if the Cardinals don’t perform in the playoffs.