Rapid Reactions: Cardinals hire Kliff Kingsbury as next head coach
Eight days after firing Steve Wilks, the Arizona Cardinals have brought in their next head coach.
Former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury was announced as the team’s new shot-caller on Tuesday.
Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station staff.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo
When Arizona State hired Herm Edwards as its coach the decision was questioned in some circles, mocked in others and understood and defended by only a few.
In some ways, not all but some, the Cards hiring Kliff Kingsbury reminds me of that moment. Unconventional. Risky. Different. Bold.
There’s no doubt they passed up on better qualified, more experienced candidates. And the worry is that in their desperation to find the next great young offensive mind they overextended themselves and hired somebody who isn’t even close to ready for this.
But the other candidates were just so uninspiring. And if the goal of this hire is to bring out the very best in Josh Rosen it is hard to believe there is a candidate who will be better at it than Kingsbury. Hopefully he can do the other stuff well and hire a great staff. Until we see who rounds out the staff it’s hard to judge this one fully.
I didn’t like the Herm hire and I was wrong. I do like this hire but admit it’s a big risk and it could very easily go bad for a variety of reasons.
Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf
Tell me who the defensive coordinator is and I’ll tell you what I think.
I love the hire if the Cardinals get a strong man for defensive coordinator who has head coaching experience.
If they get someone who is small time or not an alpha male, I love the draft and I’ll enjoy preparing for the perpetual top 5 pick every year.
Luke Lapinski, host of The Rundown and reporter
The Arizona Cardinals need a lot this offseason. That’s undeniable. And right near the top of their to-do list is “find a way to inject more life into the offense” and “put Josh Rosen in position to succeed”.
They checked both those boxes with this hire. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a risky move – potentially very risky, in fact – but it’s clear they’re all in on building everything around Rosen. And they have to be. Investing a top 10 pick in a quarterback means he’s your guy for the present and future. If he doesn’t pan out, that would be absolutely devastating for this franchise. It would set them back years. So they have to do everything they can to help him evolve.
I personally think Rosen can develop into the second best quarterback from the 2018 draft. But we just saw firsthand that he’s not going to do it on his own. At best, he plateaued by the end of the season. And you could make a strong case he actually started taking steps backward.
Kingsbury should fix that. That’s the reason he’s here. And if he doesn’t, well, he won’t be here long. But even if he does get Rosen on the right track, that doesn’t necessarily mean success for the team as a whole. I’ll feel a lot better about this move overall if the Cardinals land a high-end defensive coordinator to supplement Kingsbury’s offensive prowess.
If they can’t do that, this could very well fail. But I like that they swung for the fences – especially because it’s not like there were other names out there that were sure things. Virtually all of the available candidates have question marks, and even the “safe” options have the drawback of a low ceiling.
Granted, it’s weird living in a city where the head coach of the college team has more NFL connections than the head coach of the NFL team, but that’s Phoenix in 2019. I like the fact that Kingsbury essentially chose Rosen over Sam Darnold when he picked Arizona over New York though. And yes, I get that there were certainly other factors at play here. But at some point in the decision-making process, a young, sought after, innovative offensive mind had to weigh the upside of Rosen vs. Darnold.
I’m taking it as a good sign that someone with that pedigree chose Rosen. If for no other reason than it was difficult for most people to really evaluate Rosen with a depleted supporting cast by the end of last season.
Paul Calvisi, Host
Try and ignore the Arizona Cardinals now.
With a single headline, 3-13 becomes soooo 2018. “Fast Break Football” has arrived in the Valley. Endorse it or curse it, but fans will hang on every up-tempo play call by new, young and innovative college head coach Ryan Gosling, errr, Kliff Kingsbury.
Ingenious or ignoramus? No clue. All I do know is that FOMO is now officially “a thing” –- whether that’s fear of missing out on the next XL thing or whether this entire thing falls off a Kliff.
Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter
There’s an obvious risk Cardinals GM Steve Keim and president Michael Bidwill are taking with the hire of Kingsbury. It’s no doubt a high-pressure position to be in when they just fired a man with quite opposite of a resume and personality.
Kingsbury’s offensive genius didn’t lead to a whole lot of success at Texas Tech, but there’s no doubt he’s damn good at what he’s supposed to be good at: coaching quarterbacks to lead elite offenses.
How he succeeds or fails from here on out isn’t just on him. It’s on the Cardinals to put forth the money and the sales job to hire Kingsbury an experienced staff with a high profile defensive coordinator.
Across football, the main ingredient to success has been doing that in concert with allowing a strong leader and strong offensive mind call the plays atop the pecking order.
Look next door in Tempe, where Herm Edwards’ biggest success was wooing and ceding control to Danny Gonzales. Look at Clemson, where DC Brent Venables helped head coach Dabo Swinney out-duel Nick Saban and Alabama.
The same story has be written over and over in the NFL this year with the Rams, Eagles and Bears, among others. And so now for the Cardinals, the job appears to be only half-done as of Tuesday.
Jordan Byrd, host of Arizona Sports Saturday
I have to be honest. I’m surprised by the Cardinals hiring of Kliff Kingsbury as their new head coach. Considering the microscope Steve Keim and the team is under, I was expecting a more conventional hire like a retread head coach or an established coordinator.
But with all that being said, I’m excited that the Cardinals went this direction.
This past season the Cardinals weren’t just bad, they were losing the fan base. Anger from the fans had turned to full-blown apathy and there is nothing more crippling to a franchise then fans not caring.
Kingsbury changes all of that.
He’s an instant shot of excitement and hope for a fan base that desperately needs it at this moment, something that catches the attention of even the most casual of Cardinals supporters.
Additionally, this hire makes perfect sense for where this team is trending. Josh Rosen is being propped up as the future of the franchise and the young quarterback needs someone to help him grow and mature. If the hopes of this team reside with the progress of Rosen, who better to try to squeeze out every drop of talent then someone as skilled offensively as Kingsbury?
Don’t get me wrong, there still are some reservations I have about Kingsbury coming to Arizona. At the top of that list is who will be on his staff. The reason Kingsbury was ultimately unsuccessful at Texas Tech was not due to the offensively production. It all came down to not being able to stop any team defensively.
If the Cardinals can put the right mix of experience and humility around Kingsbury with his coaching staff, then I think this hire could be a successful one. But if they hire a defensive coordinator that’s out of his element or trying to undermine Kingsbury, this also has the potential to blow up in the Cardinals face in far greater fashion than the Steve Wilks tenure.
Kellan Olson, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter
I hope the Cardinals got the offensive guru, prodigy, innovator etc. that everyone is calling Kingsbury.
As Kevin noted above, Kingsbury’s record of winning and losing football games was not the reason he got this job.
The Cardinals, perhaps to a dangerous extent, prioritized finding the right coach to get the most out of Josh Rosen.
Who can Kingsbury get to run his defenses that were awful with the Red Raiders? Who cares! Patrick Mahomes! Baker Mayfield! Johnny freaking Football!
Jokes aside, it was refreshing to see the Cardinals come out ultra-aggressive and get this done in a hurry. They clearly had “their guy,” which makes the mysterious nature of Michael Bidwill’s press conference a week prior all the more easy to understand now.
Vince Marotta, Co-host of Bickley & Marotta
I’m out of the proclamation business when it comes to judging coaching hires. The hirings that went down around these parts last year have somehow changed my thinking process on all of it (funny how that would happen, right?)
The Cardinals very easily could have gone the safe route and hired a “retread” NFL coach with experience in the league. In fact, after the disastrous one-year tenure of Steve Wilks, they probably should have done that.
They didn’t. They went completely in the opposite direction and tabbed Kingsbury, who will at least be the splashiest hire in this year’s NFL searches.
I like the fact that Arizona acted quickly and thought outside the box. Kingsbury’s credentials can be argued, but Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim recognize how important the future of Josh Rosen is as this franchise’s potential star quarterback. I say ‘potential’ because that’s all it is right now based on what we saw from Rosen in his rookie season — he wasn’t good. Kingsbury’s experience and expertise in working with quarterbacks gives Rosen a much better chance to succeed and that’s important.