Kliff Kingsbury is now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals NFL franchise.
This is a sentence that many Cardinals fans, judging by the talk on social media and here on ROTB, have wanted to read for a few days now.
We all know what led the Cardinals towards deciding that Kingsbury would be their new guy. The highly potent offensive attacks he has coached over the years coupled with his strong ability to develop young quarterbacks were very appealing to the head brass in GM Steve Keim and President Michael Bidwill.
But when you look at how everything went down, was the 2018 season so discouraging that it caused the team to do a complete 180 in the way they envisioned the coaching staff to look?
With former coach Steve Wilks, his main trademark was that he wanted to run the ball with star running back David Johnson, control the clock and play hard-nosed defense. Defense, in particular, was Wilks’ calling card. With Kingsbury, Cardinals fans should look forward to a more pass-heavy offense (he ran the “air raid” style at Texas Tech) where defense is perhaps a little less important to the head coach than offensive success. Don’t expect to see an over-abundant amount of runs up the middle, which is what former offensive coordinator Mike McCoy became famous for. Instead, look for Kingsbury to spread the offense out a bit more to get his playmakers into some space to pick up yardage and make plays.
The hiring process itself was drastically different as well. Last year, the Cardinals were one of the last teams to hire a coach following the “retirement” of Bruce Arians. Wilks was said to have been the team’s first choice, though hardly anyone believes that. This time around, outside of Mike McCarthy (who refused to interview with the Cardinals), I believe Kingsbury was their guy all along. They started the coaching search process a mere week and a half ago and were able to find their guy, sign him and introduce to the press already. There was no dragging of the feet when they identified their guy and they went after him.
There seems to be no confusion or blurred lines on what the Cardinals want to do anymore, either. There is obviously no quarterback controversy: Josh Rosen is the guy and Kingsbury spoke at length during his introductory presser about developing Rosen. Sam Bradford isn’t walking through that door anytime soon. Steve Keim was asked about what type of defense and what coordinator the team would be looking for and that was straight and to the point: they want a veteran DC that will run the 3-4, which caters more to the personnel the team has. With Wilks, the Cardinals ran a 4-3 defensive scheme, which left players like Deone Bucannon on the outside looking in.
The specific coaching styles of Wilks and Kinsbury are very different as well. Wilks wasn’t a micromanager and didn’t call plays for the defense, Kliff will call plays for the offense (which he confirmed in his presser) and will be very hands on.
Old school vs. new school. That is really what it all boils down to. Whether the team sees more success from their new tactic remains to be seen, but at the very least, this team should bring about a really exciting brand of football.