Two NFL coaches have now been fired — Matt Rhule by the Carolina Panthers and Frank Reich by the Indianapolis Colts. So what is the rationale for keeping Kliff Kingsbury as the Arizona Cardinals head coach? And why shouldn’t he be atop the remaining list of NFL coaches on the hot seat?
The answer to both questions is basically a shrug emoji. Things have not at all gone to plan in Year 4, and if they don’t improve, people will lose their jobs — potentially starting with Kingsbury.
Kliff Kingsbury Is Among NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat
But those aren’t the right questions to ask because they’re incomplete questions.
Few would get on a table and defend the job Kingsbury has done.
But the Cardinals just extended him through 2027 — an unforced error considering how little he had proven in his first three seasons.
“The leadership of both Steve and Kliff have been key factors in the team’s turnaround over the last three seasons,” Cardinals Owner Michael Bidwill said in a statement at the time. “We are all looking forward to continuing that progress and recognize these two individuals will be a big part of achieving our long-term goals as an organization.”
The Cardinals’ contention window was supposed to be wide open in 2022, especially after the team mollified its quarterback in the offseason by granting Kyler Murray a five-year, $230.5 million contract with $160 million guaranteed.
Instead, the Cardinals are 3-6 and the NFC’s 13-seed through nine weeks, with just a 6% chance to make the playoffs, per Five Thirty Eight.
Even more damning, the Cardinals have won just 7 of their last 20 games, and Kingsbury’s area of expertise — offense — has been the biggest reason why.
“The inconsistency on offense would have to be the alarming thing when you know you have a number of talented players on that side of the ball,” Cardinals GM Steve Keim said on Arizona Sports Radio last week.
“Just haven’t played good football in terms of playing together, playing in unison, the mistakes that we’ve made whether it’s been miscommunication with routes or time management with getting the play off. Little things that obviously can be fixed but are very disappointing at this point.”
The issues might go deeper than that.
The Cardinals are averaging 4.9 yards per play (29th), 5.5 yards per pass (last), 35% conversions on third downs (25th), are minus-4.2 points per game (26th), middle of the pack in scoring (22.6), and 29th in penalties (7.1 per game).
They’re 3-6 despite having the NFL’s sixth-best turnover margin (+.3). Scoring and offensive efficiency are both way down compared to 2021.
Murray is on track to set career lows in yards per attempt (6.0), passer rating (86.9), QBR (47.9), average intended air yards (6.6), average completed air yards (4.2), and on-target rate (70.2%).
Both quarterback and offense were bad again in the Cardinals’ 31-21 loss to the Seahawks Sunday.
The Cardinals managed 15 first downs, with an embarrassing 12 yards of offense in the third quarter. They struggled with the center-quarterback exchange. They committed eight pre-snap penalties.
Arizona’s final stats: 262 yards of offense, 4.3 per play, and 12 penalties for 77 yards.
“We’re hurting ourselves,” Kingsbury said after the game. “We have to give ourselves a chance. The self-inflicted stuff is killing us.”
He added: “I believe in this team. I don’t think we’ve played great, complementary football. I don’t think we’ve played close to how good we can play. We’ve got to figure out a way to get there soon. But they’re going to continue to fight. We’ve got another divisional opponent next week we have to get up for.”
Hot Seat Tiers: Call the Fire Department
Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals: 27-29-1 and no playoff wins in four years is bad. 4-11 in his last 15 games is worse.
Hotter Than a Wing in Buffalo
Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions: Sunday’s win over the Packers snapped a five-game losing streak but only improved Campbell to 5-19-1 in his two seasons.
Nathaniel Hackett, Denver Broncos: A victory in London followed by a bye week shifted the spotlight off of Hackett — at least temporarily.
Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers: How is this team this bad? Five straight losses and now a trip to Dallas looms.
Josh McDaniels, Las Vegas Raiders: Hard to envision Mark Davis eating another coaching contract this soon after the Jon Gruden affair — although he might have to if the bottom falls out.
Simmering, But Not Scorching
Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders: Credit the Commanders for fighting through a 1-4 start, but it’s tough to envision many more Washington wins in the season’s second half.
Lovie Smith, Houston Texans: It’s a five-team race for the No. 1 draft pick, and the Texans (1-6-1) have as good a shot as any to win.
Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers: Things have seemingly stabilized out West. The Chargers have lost once since Sept. 25 and are currently the AFC’s seventh seed.
Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns: There was no quit in the Browns on Halloween, even after a four-game losing streak. Three more games until Deshaun Watson returns, and then Stefanski’s evaluation really begins.
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