Kliff or Kyle? New Commanders head coach Dan Quinn sees shades of Shanahan in Kingsbury

Feb 5, 2024, 3:53 PM | Updated: 3:59 pm

Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is back in the NFL as the Washington Commanders’ new offensive coordinator after a one-year hiatus from the league.

Now, he’s back at the highest level of competition following a short tenure as a USC Trojans offensive analyst. New Commanders head coach Dan Quinn couldn’t be happier to land Kingsbury, comparing him to an offensive mind currently preparing for Super Bowl LVIII.

“Kliff has always been somebody that I’ve kept up with,” Quinn said during his introductory press conference on Monday. “Years ago, we both coached in college and we first met each other at an award show and kind of hit it off in that time. We competed against each other and I certainly followed his career through his time at (Texas Tech) and then into Arizona competing. In the same way in why I wanted to hire (San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan) years ago, he was hard to go against. He would stretch the field horizontally and vertically.

“Going against Kliff, those same feelings you had. ‘This is going to be tough. Matchups, formations, speed, shots down the field, aggressiveness, boldness to go.’ As a coach, you’re writing down some names if (head-coaching) was something in your future. ‘If I get this shot, this is somebody I want to talk to.’ That’s where the start came from him. We’re really pumped he’s going to be a part of it. People talk about his acumen with quarterbacks and that’s proven, but he’s also an excellent coach.”

Kingsbury’s offensive thinking was on display for four years before his firing after the regular season in 2022.

Slowly but surely, he saw success in the desert, improving Arizona’s record each season until his 4-13 finish that led to his departure.

But midway through an impressive 2021 season, the wheels began falling off for Kingsbury. His unchanging offensive approach on top of injuries throughout the roster did the head coach little favors.

Despite a 11-6 finish, Arizona limped into its NFC Wild Card matchup and was obliterated by the Los Angeles Rams.

That loss — in addition to a 1-4 finish to the regular season — was the beginning of the end for Kingsbury in Arizona. When the dust settled on his time with the Cardinals, the head coach’s 28-37-1 mark and the team’s offensive dropoff stick out like sore thumbs.

After finishing eighth in the NFL in yards per game (373.6) in 2021, the Cardinals fell to 21st the following season (323.5). They also averaged fewer points, going from a near-top 10 team (26.4) in 2021 compared to 21st in 2022 (20).

Now, he gets a chance to prove himself once again at the NFL level after being a popular name this NFL hiring cycle.

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