The 5: Familiar faces Arizona Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury will see in 2022

May 19, 2022, 7:36 AM
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals on the field before the game against the Seattl...
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals on the field before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on November 21, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals’ 2022 schedule is littered with primetime games and must-watch matchups.

It’s also filled with a number of familiar faces for head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Not only will Kingsbury take on his former head coach, he’ll also face former players, teammates and colleagues.

A look at who’s on the docket in the I-know-you department:

Patrick Mahomes (Week 1)

(Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)

With the Kansas City Chiefs set to come to town Week 1, Kingsbury doesn’t have to wait long before running into one of his former players in quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes spent three seasons under Kingsbury’s tutelage at Texas Tech from 2014-16. During that span, Mahomes completed 63.5% of his throws for 11,252 yards and 93 touchdowns to 29 interceptions.

In his final year as a Red Raider, Mahomes set career marks in passing percentage (65.7%), passing yards (5,052) and touchdowns (41). He also rushed for 285 yards and 12 touchdowns on 131 carries.

In 32 career games as a Texas Tech starter, Mahomes went 13-19.

While the two sides met in the preseason last year, this will mark the first time Kingsbury and Mahomes battle in the regular season.

“I was really thankful for the schedule makers for giving us a young quarterback that hadn’t quite found his way in the league just yet, still trying to figure it out,” Kingsbury joked last Friday.

“It’ll be fun. He sent me the little eye emoji before (the schedule) even came out so he’ll revved up. We’ll definitely have some Texas Tech fans tuning into that one I’m sure.”

Chandler Jones (Week 2)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Another week, another familiar foe.

After taking on his former collegiate QB, Kingsbury runs right into former Cardinal and franchise sacks leader Chandler Jones in a Week 2 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.

It’ll mark Jones’ first home game as a Raider following his signing with the team this offseason.

Kingsbury and Jones spent three seasons together in Arizona before Jones tested the free-agent waters.

In his final season as a Cardinal, Jones recorded 10.5 sacks, 26 QB hits and six forced fumbles over 15 games played.

Now, Kingsbury’s offensive line must put that familiarity to good use, with both Jones and pass-rushing mate Maxx Crosby presenting an incredible challenge for Arizona.

As for Arizona’s replacement for the pass rusher, the pairing of rookie pass rushers in Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders will be counted on to apply the pressure Jones was accustomed to generating.

“It’s impossible to replace a Hall of Fame rusher like Chandler, we know that,” Kingsbury said Friday. “But as a unit and schematically, we’ve got to be able to find that production somehow and I think those guys will all add to it.”

Matt Rhule (Week 3)

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and Kingsbury have quite an interesting past.

Back in 2018, Rhule’s Baylor Bears were the final nail in Kingsbury’s Texas Tech coffin behind a 35-24 victory over the Red Raiders. Kingsbury was let go a day later after posting a 3-6 mark in the Big 12.

But before Rhule turned the page to the Bears’ bowl game, the head coach made sure to apologize for being the last straw in Kingsbury’s tenure at Texas Tech.

Since that text, the two remained in contact, with Kingsbury offering his advice when Rhule was contemplating jumping up to the NFL ranks.

“I consider him a friend. He’s one of the guys I called when I was trying to figure out last year if I was going to go to the NFL or not,” Rhule told reporters back in 2020. “I gave him a call and said, ‘What’s your experience with it?’ He was kind enough to let me send a couple of my Baylor coaches out to talk football with him when he first went to Arizona to help us in the Big 12. I was sad for him at the time because I think he’s a really good coach. I thought he did a great job at Texas Tech.”

“When he was leaving, I just wanted to call and let him know if there’s anything I could do I would love to always be there for him, just like I know he would do for me. Then he got this opportunity in Arizona, I was fired up for him. I know he’ll do a great job. So you know what, every chance I have to see him, I make sure to reach out to him, and like I said, he’s always been really good to me.”

In terms of their NFL tenures, Rhule currently holds a 2-0 advantage over Kingsbury with wins over the last two seasons.

They’ll meet once again in Week 4.

Bill Belichick (Week 14)

(Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s a rematch of the student and the master when Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots come to the desert for a Monday Night Football matchup in Week 14.

Belichick was among the many influences in Kingsbury’s playing career, having drafted the then-quarterback with the 201st overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.

Kingsbury was on the team for New England’s Super Bowl XXXVIII run before eventually being waived in 2004.

“I never expected to be coaching against him,” Kingsbury said in 2020. “If you start to analyze what he knows and what I know we’d be in trouble. 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.

The Cardinals were on the losing end of the coaches’ first NFL meeting between the two in 2020, with the Patriots taking a narrow 20-17 win.

Tom Brady (Week 16)

(AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

Two weeks after Kingsbury takes on his former coach, he’ll get a chance to face his former New England teammate in Tampa Bay Buccaneers signal caller Tom Brady on Christmas.

The duo shared a quarterbacks room during the team’s Super Bowl run in 2003.

“Every part of his life was dedicated to being the best quarterback in the history of the game,” Kingsbury said of Brady in 2020. “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.”

This will mark Brady’s first ever regular season game at State Farm Stadium. He’s played in two Super Bowls there, however, winning Super Bowl XLIX.

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The 5: Familiar faces Arizona Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury will see in 2022