Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury concentrated on ending season on high note

Jan 6, 2023, 5:38 PM

TEMPE — When Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury signed his contract extension this past offseason, it looked as though he and the team were in it for the long haul.

Days ahead of the Cardinals’ season finale against the San Francisco 49ers, however, and the head coach’s fate in the desert after Week 18 rests in the unknown after a disappointing season on multiple accounts.

But much like defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, Kingsbury is focused on ending the season with a win, not his job security.

“We’ve talked with (owner Michael Bidwill) — I have every day — and so at this point it’s just about trying to win this game,” Kingsbury said Friday when asked if the coaching staff has been reassured of their jobs. “So, we haven’t talked postseason, we haven’t talked moves, anything like that. It’s just about current issues and trying to win.”

“We’ll focus on that after Sunday,” the head coach added on if he expects to be in the same role come next season. “All our talk has been nothing but how we win this game.”

Since taking over in 2019, Kingsbury had seen steady growth offensively and record-wise, improving by three wins year over year.

That trend came to an abrupt end in 2022, though, with Arizona trying to pick up just its fifth win of the year in the Cardinals’ worst season under Kingsbury to date.

The head coach certainly shares some of the blame, whether it be questionable play-calling and a predictable offensive game plan, but he’s not at fault for all the bad this team encountered in 2022.

In addition to quarterback Kyler Murray being lost for the season — and potentially longer — with a torn ACL, the Cardinals were forced to cobble together an offensive line on a near-weekly basis due to injuries at almost every position.

Even the lone starter to play every game in Kelvin Beachum did so while hurt. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins starting the season on a six-game suspension didn’t help things. Consistency is hard to come by when there’s a constant revolving door of players in and out of the lineup.

There were also other distractions, with two coaches no longer on the team due to off-the-field incidents and Murray’s contract-extension fiasco. Cornerback Jeff Gladney’s tragic death in the offseason was another obstacle Arizona faced.

The questions don’t stop at Kingsbury, either, with a plethora of players set to hit free agency and a general manager role up in the air after Steve Keim’s health-related leave of absence began last month.

For the rest of this week at least, Kingsbury and Co. are focused on one item: Ending the season on a good note.

“I want to play our best game of the season,” Kingsbury said. “I think we got some guys getting the opportunity to play a lot of time against the best team in the NFC.

“You can’t ask for anything more as a team than to play the hottest team in the NFC in the last game of the year on the road and see where you’re at. Our guys are excited, it’s a tough task we know, but I’m excited to watch them play.”

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