Why Kliff Kingsbury is the NFL’s top coach of the 2021 season so far

There is one person behind all of the success of the Arizona Cardinals during the 2021 season, and Kliff Kingsbury is surprising the NFL world.

No one saw a perfect start coming for the Kliff Kingsbury-led Arizona Cardinals. With how many trials and tribulations the team has gone through in his previous two seasons, it’s a remarkable turnaround that has the team atop of the vaunted NFC West.

Guiding the NFL’s only undefeated team through five weeks of play is just one of the many reasons that Kingsbury is the leading Coach of The Year candidate. Much like the last Cardinals coach who won it (Bruce Arians in 2014), the team is off to a hot start. So what are the other reasons Kingsbury commands the top spot?

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has evolved his play-calling and game management

Cardinals fans know that the 2020 season finale against the Los Angeles Rams had many questionable decisions and that loss stared fans in the face the entire offseason. It had to sit and stew in Kingsbury’s mind that he would never get to that point again. The play-calling has made a lot more sense, minus the Minnesota game.

In 2021, the Cardinals offense finished as the 13th-ranked unit. Currently, they’re the fourth-best unit in terms of total offense. That’s the jump that’s needed to take over the division. It’s a more balanced offense, even though the Cardinals were one of the best rushing teams last season between Kyler Murray and Kenyan Drake.

With more of the running attack shifted to James Conner and Chase Edmonds, it has allowed Murray to stay even cleaner on gameday. The addition of Rodney Hudson also cannot be overlooked, as he was the rock of the line until he left Sunday’s game with a rib injury.

On top of all of this is how he’s made Murray become an even deadlier passer. Murray is leading the NFL with a completion rate of 75.2 percent. The top three seasons in that category all belong to Drew Brees, with the NFL record being 74.4 percent in 2018.

As tough as the NFC West is, and has been, this is a spectacular and historic start to the Cardinals season. For the first time since 1974, they hold that sterling 5-0 record. There should not be expectations of a perfect season, but the dominance over the division must continue to get Murray and the Cardinals into the playoffs for the first time in six years.