Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Kliff Kingsbury hired in Arizona

A little over a month after being fired at Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury has arrived in the NFL via a brief detour with the USC Trojans as the Arizona Cardinals hired Kingsbury as their new head coach.

Looking at a 35-40 record over a six-run with the Red Raiders, one couldn't be blamed for wondering just what was the interest in Kingsbury all about and why on earth an NFL team is hiring someone that couldn't win in Lubbock.

The answer is this- Kliff Kingsbury has enough positives to override a few concerns.
First off, While I understood why Texas Tech felt it had to relieve Kingsbury of his duties, this could backfire on the Red Raiders.
Texas Tech has always been a tough place to win consistently due to in-state competition for recruiting, the tradition at other schools and the isolated location in West Texas, so even though Kingsbury didn't win, Tech is on the verge (in my opinion) of making a move because Kingsbury's last team began to show signs of developing a defense, which in the Big 12 goes quite a distance and Tech's late-season fade was mainly due to an injury to freshman quarterback Alan Bowman, who was injured against Oklahoma in a game that saw Tech slug it out on even terms in a 51-46 loss.
Tech might be sitting on a big year in 2019 and had an alum such as Kingsbury stayed, he may have become entrenched at the school for years.

Kingsbury's offenses always scored tons of points with talent that wasn't nearly as strong as the better teams in his conference and his work with Patrick Mahomes was outstanding.
I loved Mahomes coming out of Texas Tech and I had him ranked as my top ranked QB when many shrugged him off as another Big 12 system QB ( BTW- If I'm going to get hammered for not liking Baker Mayfield coming out, I want the credit for being dead-on about Mahomes. Fair is fair).
Much of that was due to the work and refinement that Mahomes received from Kingsbury, who also worked with Baker Mayfield (before his transfer), Davis Webb (Giants draftee) and as offensive coordinator, Kingsbury helped Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) and Case Keenum (Houston) to excellent college careers and in the case of Keenum. a decent NFL career.

Kingsbury will work with Josh Rosen, who struggled in his Cardinal debut after being selected by them in the first round last year and hope that he is able to hit it off with the former UCLA Bruin as this only works if Kingsbury develops Rosen or is able to last long enough to be involved with a replacement a few years down the road and that won't be easy as the Cardinals are far from bowling one over with offensive talent.
David Johnson had a mildly disappointing 2018 season after returning from an injury that cost Johnson all but one game in 2017 and Josh Rosen's top receiving target was 35 years old Larry Fitzgerald.

Head coaching hires in the NFL is similar to imagining slot cars moving around a track.
For a lap or two, offensive backgrounds are preferred and then it can become defensive, only to emerge with teams wanting experienced hands with head coaching or high-level assistant resume's and the current lap shows team wanting younger coaches with what is currently considered to be "innovative" playcalling or systems.
Kliff Kingsbury fits that mold right now and on his resume', I wouldn't think that he would be a particularly attractive candidate for a power five college job, let alone the NFL, but the time is right for his skills to receive a chance, that chance might have not been available five years from now and it wasn't five years ago either.

One other factor to consider to those wondering just how on Earth, all of this occurred in a month.
It's the Arizona Cardinals.
Remember with the exception of one miracle run for a 9-7 team with a Hall of Fame passer (Kurt Warner) that saw them reach their only Super Bowl, a strong three year run under Bruce Arians and three more years under Don Coryell (in 1974-76!), this is a franchise that has generally been rotten under the Bidwill family for the last 50 plus years!
One could make a real argument that the Cardinals over the last 50 years have been the NFC version of the "New" Browns along with the Detroit Lions for sustained mediocrity.
The Bidwill's have hired coaches with track records (Gene Stallings,Buddy Ryan and Dennis Green), In-house "players" coaches (Dave McGinnis), veteran defensive coaches (Vince Tobin), young coaches (Steve Wilks), offensive flavors of the time (Ken Whisenhunt), offensive line coaches (Joe Bugel and Jim Hanifan), college coaches (Don Coryell) and even legends from the past (Bud Wilkinson) and with the exception of the short term blips on the radar, the Cardinals haven't been able to be successful.
Will Kliff Kingsbury take his place in the Cardinals graveyard of failed head coaching experiments?
Or have the Cardinals finally found their long term answer through taking a chance on the next big thing in football innovation?
It'll be interesting to see.

Back later with the Browns hiring of Freddie Kitchens as their new head coach.

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