Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has been outcoached twice in two weeks.
Outcoached. Outplayed. Outsmarted. And it ends with the Arizona Cardinals blowing two golden opportunities in the final two weeks of the season. Sure, Kyler Murray went down with an injury and it forced Kingsbury to turn to backup quarterback Chris Streveler.
It’s no excuse, given the Los Angeles Rams turned to John Wolford. How do you contrast Sean McVay from Kingsbury? One man went into the week 17 tilt with a game plan, the other didn’t. And it showed with Wolford’s play.
McVay came in with the ball control mindset, opting for high-percentage plays when the Cardinals forced Wolford to throw. Streveler, known for his running and his so-so passing (his CFL numbers weren’t great through the air), spent a lot of time throwing the ball.
It’s been the same story all season long for Kingsbury’s playcalling. Call it ticky-tacky, repeatedly trying to go dink and dunk instead of playing to his team’s strengths all season. Strengths that include effective running on offense.
Kingsbury and the Cardinals won a lot of games when they ran the ball. And they lost a lot when they forced the horizontal passing game. It happened during the Cards’ three-game losing streak when they collapsed from 6-3 to 6-6. And it happened earlier in the season when the then-2-0 Cardinals went down to the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers.
Further, penalties and mental errors plagued the team since week one and they never improved. In fact, you can argue that the mental errors and penalties worsened as the season progressed. The buck stops with Kingsbury, who took one of the NFL’s better quarterbacks, arguably the NFL’s best receiver, a capable running back and pass-catching committee, and wasted it.
Kingsbury’s results mirror that of ex-Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens. Like Kingsbury, Kitchens also had spotty playcalling. Kitchens couldn’t control his players. And he ended up in New York after just one season.
There are several great coaches available, including college coaches with a more proven resume than Kingsbury. Ohio State’s Ryan Day is on a few radars. Ditto for the retired Urban Meyer. And don’t forget about proven commodities like Jim Caldwell who are drawing interest.
Kingsbury, who boasted a 30-35 record at Texas Tech and an abysmal 19-35 conference record, was the surprise hiring by the Cardinals following the 2018 season. He was never a proven commodity in college. And in turn, is nothing more than mediocre in the NFL.
The Cardinals are a better football team than many give them credit for. Give Kyler and company a capable coach, and watch this team cruise into the playoffs in 2021.