Respect goes both ways for Cardinals’ Kingsbury, Raiders’ McDaniels
TEMPE — Long before Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury headed to Arizona, he and Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels lived the New England Patriot way.
Their paths first crossed in 2003 when Kingsbury was selected in the sixth-round by the Patriots. McDaniels at the time was working as an assistant coach.
And while Kingsbury’s playing career took a hit after being placed on the injured reserve for the entirety of his rookie season, he was able to turn more of his attention to the coaching side of things while on the shelf.
A lot like McDaniels, Kingsbury is rooted in the Bill Belichick coaching tree, picking up useful football knowledge along the way.
But that didn’t stop a 23-year-old Kingsbury from trying to dip his toes in both the player and coaching pools.
“He was working on the defense with Bill — which thank God I didn’t have to do that — I was kind of the quality control role,” Kingsbury said Wednesday. “I would want to go out with the team and stuff, and I’d try to pay him to do my work.
“He’s like, ‘Dude, I have so much work. There’s no chance I have that.’ I’ve watched him grind and then I actually played for him, he was my quarterbacks coach there. I have such a tremendous amount of respect for where he came from on the defensive side to being this offensive genius, to all the success he’s had on the Patriots and now getting another shot (as an NFL head coach). He’s first class and a brilliant offensive mind.”
Outside of their time in New England together, Kingsbury and McDaniels have gone their separate ways.
After his playing career, Kingsbury navigated through the college ranks at Houston, Texas A&M and Texas Tech before landing a head-coaching gig with Arizona in 2019.
McDaniels went on to spend two offensive coordinator stints with the Patriots and another with the St. Louis Rams while also serving two seasons as head coach of the Denver Broncos. This past offseason, McDaniels landed the Raiders gig.
Despite all the moving parts, McDaniels has made sure to keep an eye on his former player-turned-coaching buddy living in the desert, even more of late with their seasons clashing on Sunday.
“Kliff’s a great person and he’s a really good coach,” McDaniels told the Raiders’ team website Friday. “He’s really an aggressive guy, an aggressive mindset, and you can see that with all three phases of their football team. We talked to our team, there’s one word to describe the Cardinals and that’s: explosive. And so in each phase, we have to be ready to go on every play.
“There can be no relaxing during the course of the game, or they’ll make a big play, whether that’s on a punt rush, a scramble by Kyler Murray, a deep throw, a strip sack, an interception, a turnover. They are an explosive team and he’s done a really good job there.”