Who’s on Kliff Kingsbury’s Arizona Cardinals coaching staff?
Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t have NFL experience, so he leaned on GM Steve Keim to fill out a coaching staff with priority on experience and talent — not necessarily whether members of that staff knew Kingsbury or one another.
The staff looks, for the most part, filled out.
New hires officially announced by the team Wednesday include Marcus Robertson (DBs), James Saxson (RBs), Greg Williams (CBs), Charlie Bullen (assistant LBs), Peter Badovinac (assistant WR), Rob Grosso (defensive quality control) and Spencer Whipple (offensive quality control).
Arizona also retained a good number of staffers from former coach Steve Wilks’ group: Chris Achuff (DL), Randall McCray (assistant special teams), Buddy Morris (strength and conditioning), Vernon Stephens (assistant stength and conditioning) and Cam Turner (offensive assistant/assistant QBs).
Here’s a look at all of the Cardinals’ new hires since Kingsbury was brought on and how each individual is linked to other staffers, if at all.
Kliff Kingsbury, former USC OC and Texas Tech head coach
— Keim had familiarity with Kingsbury having visited college teams in Texas while scouting NFL Draft prospects. Among those visits was a workout at Texas Tech as Arizona considered selecting quarterback Patrick Mahomes prior to the 2017 draft.
Vance Joseph, former Denver Broncos head coach
— He doesn’t have direct ties to Arizona, but Joseph has succeeded against the Cardinals as a defensive play-caller and head coach. In 2016 as DC of the Dolphins, he held Cardinals signal-caller Carson Palmer to 145 passing yards as the quarterback completed 18 of 33 passes for two scores and two picks in a 26-23 Arizona loss. Only twice had Palmer’s QBR (22.7) been worse over 60 regular season games with Arizona.
Last season, Joseph was coach of the Broncos in a 45-10 walloping of Arizona at State Farm Stadium. Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen went 21 for 39 for a touchdown and three picks in that game. His QBR that night (2.2) was the worst over 14 games played in 2018.
Pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach
Tom Clements, former Green Bay Packers assistant head coach
— With quarterbacks coaching experience and more as a play-caller, Clements had been with Green Bay from 2006-2016 before sitting out of the NFL the past two seasons. He’d been in the NFL another decade before that working with the Saints, Chiefs, Steelers and Bills
Bill Davis, former Ohio State LB coach
— Not only was Davis a former Cardinals linebackers coach (2007-08) and defensive coordinator (2009-10) while Keim was working up the leadership ladder in Arizona as director of college scouting and director of player personnel; he also has familiarity with Joseph and Rodgers. Davis was DC for the 49ers from 2005-06.
Assistant linebackers coach
Charlie Bullen, former Dolphins assistant linebackers coach
— For the 2016 season, he served under Joseph, who was then the Miami defensive coordinator.
Offensive line coach
Sean Kugler, former Denver Broncos OL guards/centers coach
— He doesn’t coach on the same side of the ball, but Kugler followed Joseph from Denver to Arizona after serving with the Broncos for a single season in 2018. He was previously head coach of UTEP from 2013-17 and prior to that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line coach (2010-12).
From 2010-11, he served under former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who was then the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.
Assistant offensive line coach
Brian Natkin, former Huchinson Community College OL coach and run-game coordinator (2018)
— Natkin coached tight ends at UTEP under Kugler from 2013-17.
Wide Receivers coach
David Raih, former Green Bay Packers WR coach
— In 2013, Kingsbury’s first year as Texas Tech head coach, Raih served as the team’s assistant quarterbacks and outside receivers coach before heading to the NFL with the Packers.
Assistant wide receivers coach
Peter Badovinac, former defensive graduate assistant at Ohio State
— Badovinac just recently joined Oklahoma as a defensive graduate assistant after spending 2018 at Ohio State with the same title. While he spent 2015-17 with Missouri State coaching linebackers and has a defensive coaching background, he’s a former quarterback by trade (Drake 2009, Michigan State 2010-12).
Running backs coach
James Saxon, former Pittsburgh Steelers RB coach
— There’s no obvious connection here. But his resume looks good having coached running backs like former Chiefs Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson, former Dolphin Ricky Williams, former Viking Adrian Peterson, and current Steelers running backs Le’Veon Bell and James Conner.
Defensive backs coach
Marcus Robertson, former Broncos DB coach
— Robertson spent the last two seasons working under Joseph with the Broncos.
Greg Williams, former Broncos DB coach
— Williams and Robertson coached under Joseph with the Broncos and both held the title of DBs coach.
Defensive quality control
Rob Grosso, former assistant to the head coach of the Broncos
— Grosso spent last year working closely with Joseph in Denver and was previously an operations intern for the Broncos in 2017. The former John Carroll University receiver also has an Arizona connection: He was with the Arizona Rattlers as a coaching/player personnel intern in 2017.
Offensive quality control
Spencer Whipple, former UMass passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach
— He spent the last five years at UMass and in his current position last year led college football’s 14th-most productive passing offense by yards per game (298.1).