CARDINALS CORNER

Sean Kugler situation yet another distraction for Arizona Cardinals in 2022

Nov 23, 2022, 5:45 PM
Arizona Cardinals offensive line coach Sean Kugler talks to his players during a game between the N...
Arizona Cardinals offensive line coach Sean Kugler talks to his players during a game between the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals on November 29, 2020, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

TEMPE — The defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football wasn’t the only loss the team walked out of Mexico City with in Week 11.

Another, however, had nothing to do with football.

Reportedly groping a woman the Sunday before the 38-10 loss, run game coordinator and offensive line coach Sean Kugler was relieved of his duties by the team and sent home Monday.

By Tuesday, he had already been wiped from the team’s website.

“Out of respect for the ongoing process, it’s really limited on what I can say,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Wednesday. “I’ll just leave it at that.”

“I had a chance to talk to (Kugler) yesterday. He’s devastated by it,” offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum added on the matter. “I think it shocked the room, shocked this team, but we got to move on. … We know we got a lot going on among the roster right now, so we got to find a way to put some pieces together and find a way to get a win this weekend.”

In yet another distraction to the team in 2022, Kugler joins running backs coach James Saxon as Cardinals coaches to either be fired by the organization or issue a resignation due to off-the-field issues this year.

Arizona also opted to go in a different direction from assistant RBs coach Don Shumpert, who took over the room when Saxon first went on paid administrative leave during training camp. The position group has seen better times.

“It’s certainly not ideal for a team and focus and things of that nature,” Kingsbury said when asked the team’s numerous off-the-field distractions. “You wish it wouldn’t have occurred, but it’s something that did.

“I think our team’s done a great job at adjusting and so has our staff. Being down some numbers, guys have had to step up and answer the call.”

Two of those guys Kingsbury mentioned are co-pass game coordinator Spencer Whipple and tight ends coach Steve Heiden. Assistant offensive line coach Brian Natkin will also have a bigger presence with the OL.

Whipple has taken over coaching duties at running back in place of Shumpert, while Heiden is leading the offensive line room and having a big impact in planning the run game in the wake of Kugler’s departure.

They’ll have their work cut out for them over the next seven weeks given the current state of the team’s rushing attack.

Over the past two weeks, Arizona has averaged no more than three yards per carry on the ground, highlighted by a 2.8-yard mark last week against San Francisco.

Despite handing over the bulk of the carries to James Conner, he’s struggled to find that explosive next gear and is averaging just over three yards a rushing attempt.

The room will largely go as Conner goes the rest of the way, too, after the team phased out Eno Benjamin in Week 10 before cutting him the following Monday due to reported displeasure over his playing time.

Darrel Williams could be closing in on his return from a hip injury, but until the RB is activated off injured reserve, rookie Keaontay Ingram is the next in line behind Conner.

“It’s adversity,” Beachum said about all the distractions the team has faced this season. “You have things that happen in the National Football League, it’s always something different, something you’ve never seen before, but I’ve never been a part of anything like this. You just got to find a way to battle, find a way to rectify and find a way to just right the ship.

“We’re at a point in the season where there’s still hope. We got to find a way to make sure that we keep providing hope to not only ourselves but to the fans out there as well.”

EXTRA POINT

– Beachum when asked how tough it is to see a coach like Kugler fired:

“Although he’s no longer apart of this roster and this team, the relationship will still stay the same. I have respect for him, this is the guy who drafted me, so I have an affinity to him. But at the same time, this is a business. We’re professionals, we’re called to do certain things and act in a way that’s becoming of being an Arizona Cardinal.”

San Francisco 49ers fans look on before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo warms up before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo walks off the field during warmups before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looks on during warmups before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Players for the Arizona Cardinals run onto the field before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) A general view of the field prior to a game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals at Estadio Azteca on November 21, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, right runs with the ball after a reception during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) Flags for Mexico and the United States are seen on the field before an NFL football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner runs with the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Arizona Cardinals cheerleaders perform before an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Will Hernandez waves the flag of Mexico before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner, right, runs with the ball as San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw defends during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) Flags for Mexico and the United States are seen on the field before an NFL football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Will Hernandez waves the flag of Mexico before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, right, gets past Arizona Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson (20) and safety Budda Baker, on his way to scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) makes a touchdown catch as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Trayvon Mullen, below, defends during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle runs on his way to scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, center, celebrates his touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, left, makes a touchdown catch during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward, left, intercepts a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner, center, during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner, right, loses control of the ball as he is hit by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance, above, and cornerback Charvarius Ward, below, during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner, right, tries to get past San Francisco 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward, center, and linebacker Dre Greenlaw, left, during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Will Hernandez waves the flag of Mexico before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) Flags for Mexico and the United States are seen on the field before an NFL football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel scores a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) A San Francisco 49ers fan looks on before an NFL football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel, center, runs on his way to scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, center, loses control of the ball as he is hit by San Francisco 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward, right, and safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy is sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Kevin Givens during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Kevin Givens celebrates his sack on Arizona Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle scores a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Elijah Mitchell #25 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes with the ball against the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter at Estadio Azteca on November 21, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Greg Dortch #83 of the Arizona Cardinals catches a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half at Estadio Azteca on November 21, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Players for the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers wait on the field during a lighting display in the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) 
              San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, right, gets past Arizona Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson (20) and safety Budda Baker, on his way to scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
            San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo greets Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury after the 49ers defeated the Cardinals 38-10 in an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy (12) greets San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after the 49ers defeated the Cardinals 38-10 in an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo reacts after tight end George Kittle scored a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City.(AP Photo/Fernando Llano) Kevin Givens #90 of the San Francisco 49ers sacks Colt McCoy #12 of the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter at Estadio Azteca on November 21, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk scores a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) A San Francisco 49ers fan looks on before an NFL football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, center, looks on before an NFL football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) Fans react before an NFL football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) A San Francisco 49ers fan wears a Mexican wrestling mask before an NFL football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

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