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Cardinals’ Kingsbury picked up useful knowledge with Patriots, Belichick

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals on the sidelines in the first half of the game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

When the Cardinals face off against the Patriots on Sunday, it will be a reunion of sorts for Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury and New England’s Bill Belichick.

You could even say it’s the apprentice vs. the master.

Kingsbury got his first taste of the NFL in 2003 as a sixth-round pick for the Patriots. And while he didn’t play his rookie season after being placed on injured reserve, Kingsbury picked up valuable coaching skills that he still utilizes today.

“I learned more football in that short time than any other stop along the way when it comes to coaching and pertaining to coaching,” Kingsbury said Monday via Zoom. “The work that goes in and the game-planning, preparation day in and day out.

“I really got to see behind the scenes there. It was phenomenal being around all those coaches that went on to be head coaches and went on to win a bunch of Super Bowls. and obviously, getting to watch that Super Bowl was phenomenal.”

It didn’t matter what it was: practice prep, breaking down film, you name it. Kingsbury was there to absorb any and all knowledge his coaches were dropping like a sponge.

It wasn’t just the coaching staff that helped mold Kingsbury’s professional football career, either.

Taken in a similar position of the draft as the Cardinals head coach in the 2000 NFL Draft was none other than future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady, who that season led the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory.

And while most would assume Brady grew into the elite quarterback he is today, Kingsbury said he had it from the jump.

“Every part of his life was dedicated to being the best quarterback in the history of the game. He already knew it then, where it was heading. The diet was already there — and this was before people were doing all these things. The diet and the work ethic, the film study and the post-practice work with the receivers.

“It was insane, I’d never seen anything like it. Just to watch how it’s all played out now, there’s really no doubt in his mind where it was heading and to be a spectator from afar and where he took it has been really fun to watch.”

While Brady continued his dominance on the gridiron, Kingsbury took what he learned into the coaching realm.

The good news for Kingsbury and the Cardinals is Brady now resides with former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay.

The bad news, however, is the fact that Belichick still runs the helm in New England and is looking to continue his winning reputation no matter the quarterback under center.

“I never expected to be coaching against him. If you start to analyze what he knows and what I know we’d be in trouble,” Kingsbury said. “He’s forgotten more football than I can even try to comprehend. He’s probably the one person in the NFL that probably could coach every position at an elite level. That’s not an exaggeration, that’s just how much he knows about the game.

“I’m honored to share the field with him and it’s going to be a heck of a challenge to go up there and try to get a win.”

And as for the Patriots trying to hit gold with another late-round flier on a quarterback in an NFL Draft?

“There were talking about if lightning could strike twice and it in fact did not happen,” Kingsbury said. “But just being around those guys, the Patriots, their organization, their culture, it’s a huge honor for me. It has been in my athletic career.”


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