‘Disconnected’ Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury happy to be back from COVID-19 stint

Oct 24, 2021, 8:35 PM | Updated: Oct 25, 2021, 8:34 am
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals reacts during the final moments of the NFL game...
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals reacts during the final moments of the NFL game against the Houston Texans at State Farm Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Texans 31-5. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury would rather have last week’s scenario over this week’s.

Kingsbury was scratched two days prior to Arizona facing the Cleveland Browns on the road because he tested positive for COVID-19.

The moment he found out late that Friday, it was not ideal.

“I don’t even want to get into that, but it was a lot of curse words,” Kingsbury said of how he reacted to the positive test.

But Kingsbury before the Browns game at least had comfort knowing he’d been on the practice field all week. It showed in how his team, without him, won handily.

It also showed in how Kingsbury, during the Browns game, worked ahead on scouting the Houston Texans.

“I just felt like I needed to be doing something to help the team,” he said. “I couldn’t just sit there like a fan. So, I just got on to Houston.”

Staying at home and away from practice this week and then getting cleared at 6:30 a.m. Sunday before the Cardinals’ 31-5 win against the Texans was admittedly uncomfortable, Kingsbury said.

“It was down to the wire,” Kingsbury said after the game at State Farm Stadium. “It’s a long week just sitting at home when you know those guys are working.

“I prefer the other scenario where you can coach all week and then hand them the game plan and call it than this, because this way, you don’t get to see, you don’t get to correct it. You have a vision, but it’s hard not being there all week.”

Kingsbury admitted his return from COVID-19 protocols made him feel “disconnected.”

And relatedly or not, Arizona didn’t get off to as clean of a start with Kingsbury back on the sideline. The Cardinals offense punted twice and then got a safety before things clicked into place.

“I didn’t feel as into the game as I usually am just showing up on gameday, but the players were awesome. Great energy and made feel very welcome to be back,” he said.

“It just felt funky. Usually, I’ve called those plays over and over throughout the week. Kyler (Murray) and I have had that dialogue. That was the first time we’d even gone over them was out there. So it just didn’t feel like the same type of rhythm, same type of comfort level. I just felt more on edge than I normally do after six days of preparation.”

Nevertheless, Kingsbury’s team put up 397 yards offensively, averaging 9.3 yards per pass and 4.6 yards per rush. The Cardinals got receiver DeAndre Hopkins the first touchdown of the game against his former team and integrated new tight end Zach Ertz well.

Aside from being out of whack with Murray on a potential touchdown reception once, Ertz made three catches for 66 yards, including a 47-yard catch-and-run. The tight end, by the way, finally got to meet his head coach on Sunday.

“We met today for the first time today in person, so that was good,” Ertz said. “Which was weird, the first time I’ve seen him in person.”

As for those who know their head coach: Cardinals outside linebacker Markus Golden and Murray didn’t see or feel anything unusual with Kingsbury finally back on the field.

“He always got juice to him, man. He bring it every day. I couldn’t tell — he’s the same guy,” Golden said.

“That’s why I love playing for him. I’d run through a wall for coach, ’cause I love playing for guys like that, ’cause that’s the type of guy who I am.”

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