Arizona Cardinals Fire Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury After 4-13 Season

The Arizona Cardinals didn’t waste any time when they fired head coach Kliff Kingsbury after the season ended. General manager Steve Keim also stepped down after a disastrous 4-13 season.

Arizona Cardinals Fire Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, seen here on the sidelines against the Los Angeles Rams at State Farm Stadium, was fired after winning only four games this season. (Image: AP)

During his four-season stint with the Cardinals, Kingsbury went 28-37-1. He posted only one winning season, with an 11-6 record in 2021, guiding the Cardinals to a postseason berth. However, the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams crushed the Cardinals in last year’s NFC wild-card round.

The Cardinals finished the regular season with a seven-game losing streak. They were 2-2 after the first month of the season, and only won twice more in the remainder of the year during a dismal 2-11 stretch.

Kingsbury knew he was a dead man walking. There seemed to be an air of calm over him during the last few games of the season. The Cardinals already lost quarterback Kyler Murray to a season-ending ACL injury, and the team had zero chance at a postseason berth. Even with a backup quarterback and a third-stringer, Kingsbury remained cool during the final weeks of the season. He encouraged the team to have fun while he enjoyed his last breaths as the Cardinals’ head coach.

Kingsbury, who is only 43 years old, has experience in both the collegiate and NFL levels, so he’ll likely bounce back and find another job.

Unbearable Likeness of Being the Arizona Cardinals

During the preseason, the Cardinals were +2500 odds to win Super Bowl LVII. They were in the middle of the pack, but a handful of so-called experts thought the Cardinals could make a legitimate run at the NFC West title.

The prevailing thought was that the San Francisco 49ers were the team to beat in the NFC West this season. But the Cardinals were the second-best team after winning 11 games in 2021. All signs suggested that the defending champion Los Angeles Rams would stumble with a Super Bowl hangover, while the Seattle Seahawks struggled to adjust to life in their first season without Russell Wilson.

As expected, the 49ers (13-4) won the NFC West this season and the banged-up Rams (5-12) missed the playoffs. However, the Seahawks (9-8) shocked the football universe by securing an NFC wild-card berth as the second-best team in the NFC West. The Cardinals were the utter disappointment in the division. They failed to achieve double-digit wins in consecutive seasons, and instead, secured double-digit losses with a 4-13 record.

Kyler Murray Ends Season with ACL Injury

The Cardinals selected Murray with the #1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Fans and the media tend to over-scrutinize #1 picks, especially quarterbacks. But Murray put up good stats in his first three seasons. However, the Cardinals didn’t have any postseason victories during Murray’s short career.

Murray scrubbed his social media accounts of any involvement with the Cardinals prior to the 2022 season. It was a cheeky, yet somewhat obnoxious negotiating tactic that he weaponized during contract extension discussions. The ploy worked, and the Cardinals offered him a ridiculous contract worth $230.5 million over five seasons. He became one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in NFL history and secured “the bag” with $190 million in guaranteed salary.

Critics argued that the Cardinals overpaid Murray for his services, considering he had yet to win a playoff game and only led the team to one postseason berth in his first three seasons. Murray’s legion of fans argued that he never really had a good head coach, despite Kingsbury’s reputation as a QB-friendly coach and former NFL quarterback.

In 11 games this season, Murray completed 66.4% of his passes for 2,368 yards. He threw 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Murray also rushed 67 times for 418 yards and three rushing touchdowns. He averaged a career-best 6.2 yards per carry, but a hamstring injury slowed him down.

Murray suffered an ACL injury against the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football in Week 14. With a late-season ACL injury, Murray is expected to miss a good chunk of the 2023 season while he recovers from reconstructive knee surgery. He probably won’t be his old self until the start of the 2024 season.

The Cardinals Shortlist

Kingsbury and Murray had a tight relationship during the quarterback’s first couple of seasons with the Cardinals. However, their relationship quickly deteriorated this season. Video cameras caught Murray and Kingsbury clashing on the sidelines multiple times this season. In one famous incident, cameras caught Murray screaming at Kingsbury, “Calm the f— down!”

The Cardinals hinted that Murray will have input in the next head coach.

We’re in communication, and I absolutely want to get the input of our leaders, including Kyler,” said team owner Michael Bidwill.

The Cardinals interviewed two assistant coaches — Quentin Harris and Adrian Wilson — in hopes of promoting a worthy candidate from within the organization. The organization will also interview Vance Joseph, the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator, who is also the ex-head coach of the Denver Broncos.

Sean Payton, the former head coach of the New Orleans Saints, is the best coach currently available. The Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, and Cardinals would all love to hire Payton next season.

Frank Reich, Dan Quinn, and Jim Harbaugh are also former NFL head coaches that the Cardinals are expected to interview.

Eric Bieniemy, the current offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, came close to securing a head coaching job the last few seasons. He’s probably the top offensive coordinator in the NFL right now, and he’s also considered a popular candidate to become the next head coach of the Cardinals.

Other potential candidates include DeMeco Ryans (San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator), Shane Steichen (Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator), and Byron Leftwich (Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator).

Meanwhile, Bidwell wants to raid the 49ers’ front office to fill his general manager vacancy. He interviewed Ran Carthon (director of player personnel) and Adam Peter (assistant general manager).