Kingsbury talks relationship with McVay, Ravens-Cardinals comp

Nov 27, 2019, 12:26 PM
(AP photos)...
(AP photos)
(AP photos)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury had quite a few choices once he lost his head-coaching position at Texas Tech last offseason.

Heading to Arizona wasn’t his only available path to the NFL, and Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay had a lot to do with that.

“Met him through a friend that actually played for him in the UFL,” Kingsbury said of McVay. “It was crazy ’cause he told me, ‘This guy is going to be a star in coaching.’ I’m like, ‘yeah, right. He was like tight ends coach for the Orlando Tuskers [Florida Tuskers in 2009].’ I was like, ‘Good luck, buddy.’

“But he was right. You get around (McVay), you talk to the guy, he’s phenomenal as a person, as a coach. He can talk some football, now.”

This past offseason, around the same time Kingsbury began finalizing an agreement to become the offensive coordinator for the USC Trojans, Kingsbury considered a consulting gig under McVay with the Rams.

A job offer was reported in early December 2018, as Los Angeles prepared for a postseason run that would lead it to a Super Bowl loss.

Kingsbury said he was “close” to accepting it.

“The USC deal was really close to happening but that (Rams job) came up and was something I had to take a really hard look at,” Kingsbury said. “To learn under Sean would’ve been huge. Just didn’t work out.”

Just how complicated the process of vetting all those job offers wasn’t something Kingsbury wanted to detail on Wednesday.

Look at a few bits of reporting history preserved by Twitter, and it was clear Kingsbury’s choice to eventually land at USC wasn’t so easy.

Kingsbury was officially hired by USC on Dec. 5 and worked in Los Angeles just more than a month before the NFL came calling with head-coaching positions open. On Jan. 8, the Cardinals named him their head coach.

This Monday, Kingsbury credited McVay for helping him land an offer to interview and then join Arizona as head coach.

With the Rams visiting Arizona on Sunday, Kingsbury elaborated on that Wednesday, showing self-awareness that the 33-year-old McVay’s success and innovation in the NFL ranks spurred a string of coaching hires as teams searched for “the next Sean McVay.”

“His success that he’s had, he gave a lot of young offensive coaches a lot of opportunities,” Kingsbury said. “And then I know people that had asked Sean about me, he spoke very highly … of me.”

Cardinals notice the Lamar Jackson-Ravens model

The Cardinals under Kingsbury see what the Baltimore Ravens are doing, and not just because their Monday Night Football walloping of the Rams might give them an idea of how to attack Los Angeles six days later.

How the Ravens under OC Greg Roman have overhauled their offensive philosophies to maximize second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson’s talents is a model to take lessons from.

“I give a lot of credit that organization and (coach John) Harbaugh,” Kingsbury said. “It takes a lot of guts to go all-in like they have with him. They’re reaping the rewards right now. He’s playing at a phenomenal level.”

Jackson is an MVP favorite. He’s completing 67% of his passes and has thrown 24 touchdowns to just five interceptions.

The Heisman winner has 2,427 yards through the air and 876 on the ground — he’s added six touchdowns on rushes.

No, the Cardinals will not deploy rookie quarterback Kyler Murray like Jackson, a more physical runner.

But they can take big-picture philosophies from Baltimore if they haven’t already. The general theme: cater the offense toward the talent, not the other way around.

“I think when I came in, there’s a reason we changed some terminology to some of the OU (Oklahoma) terminology,” Kingsbury said. “We wanted to build this thing with what (Murray) did best.

Extra points

— Kingsbury again suggested the Cardinals believe they can use all of running backs Chase Edmonds, Kenyan Drake and David Johnson against the Rams. “I mean, the gameplan’s in for the most part,” he said. “We’ll start repping things, see what we like, what we don’t like. It’s on us to try and find a way to get three guys the ball that are all very talented and deserving of touches.”

— The head coach confirmed right tackle Jordan Mills is a candidate to return off IR. He cannot play for another week but will be on the field as the staff determines if he can jump back into the regular season with four games left.

— Cardinals GM Steve Keim told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station that he walked in on Kingsbury watching Knute Rockne film, a callback to the 1920s-era Notre Dame team that used four running backs nicknamed the Four Horsemen. Kingsbury confirmed that was indeed a joke by Keim.

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