The Arizona Cardinals are a team on the verge of ruin, draped in Gucci. Their situation appears ideal from the outside looking in, but underneath the aesthetic of an exhilarating No. 1 overall pick and a stacked offense is a team who took a dirt nap after their 10-2 start. Going 1-5 in a crucial portion of their season reportedly left owner Michael Bidwell pissed, and that was before the relationship with their star quarterback began imploding.
Kliff Kingsbury’s offense rang up only 18.5 points a night over those final six games and was bullied in the Wild Card Round by a better-prepared team. Arizona sleepwalking into a crucial stretch of the season when playoff-caliber teams lock in is becoming a trend.
Kingsbury and the Cards were flying high at 5-2 in 2020 before unraveling into a 3-6 underachiever after October. Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense tended to spin out once the schedule got meaty. In Arizona, his teams have shown the same second-half narcolepsy.
At Texas Tech, between 2014 and 2018, Kingsbury’s record was 20-15 in the first seven games. He compiled a 7-20 record for the rest of the year. Kingsbury is a so-called wunderkind who has never accomplished anything. How long can a coach born on third base end up back at second base before Bidwell has enough?
Those factors make it all the more inexplicable for the Cardinals to fork extensions over to a coach who’s won half of his games since 2019. The extension handed to Coach GQ would carry through the 2027 season. Kingsbury was already one of the riskiest hires in NFL history when they tapped him to adapt the Air Raid attack for Kyler Murray.
General manager Steve Keim was awarded an extension after missing on draft picks in recent years and failing to construct an offensive line to protect Murray. But at least he has a few feathers in his cap. He hustled the Houston Texans for DeAndre Hopkins, then traded a 3rd round and seventh-round pick for All-Pro Rodney Hudson. Then, he acquired tight end Zach Ertz as Murray’s safety valve mid-season. Pass rushing extraordinaire Chandler Jones recorded over 70 sacks as a Cardinal but will search for greener pastures in free agency. Replacing him will be a challenge, but Keim has shown he’s capable.
The draft has been another story. Keim has spent two first-round picks in consecutive drafts on two linebackers who’ve struggled but has hit on recent gems like Budda Baker and Byron Murphy. Kingsbury failed to diversify the offense once Hopkins before Week 9 and didn’t utilize Rondale Moore effectively enough.
There are a litany of coaches who the Cardinals could contact if the Cardinals spiral out again down the stretch, such as Sean Payton, Jim Caldwell, and Brian “Not that Brian” Flores. Committing to Kingsbury nullifies all the progress they made with Murray as the organization nears a crossroads in his career. Given his irritability of late, they need to show some urgency instead of committing to a middle-of-the-road regime.