After it was announced Flight Plan would return to cover the Arizona Cardinals in their effective rebuild following a 3-13 season that led to the firing of Steve Wilks, many fans were excited at a behind the scenes look at the team coming out of crisis.
Episode One of Cardinals Flight Plan was mostly covering the hiring of Kliff Kingsbury and the team’s offseason rebuild—episode two was vastly different and had some fascinating tidbits:
#1: Kingsbury’s work ethic is CRAZY
Kliff often wakes up and is in the facility (not waking up, but IN) as early as 3:30 AM.
I don’t know about you but that’s a sign of an obsession, or complete devotion. Guys like Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan were known to have insane hours practicing or studying waking up early or late shooting shots again and again.
Kliff isn’t necessarily that...but the picture of a hotshot single, attractive 39-year-old who breezes through his job and wins people over without putting in the work isn’t really an accurate one of the new Cardinals Head Coach.
And it’s probably because...he was an NFL player once, too.
"I’m excited to see it from this side of things."— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) February 21, 2019
Kliff Kingsbury brings unique perspective to the NFL Combine because he has been there as a player.https://t.co/9gRDKt99Zy
One thing that’s interesting is that unlike Arians, Wilks and others who have been the head coach at different stages of life is that...Kingsbury’s not currently tied down. He can make football his life because he currently doesn’t have a life outside of it. There’s no “right or wrong” when it comes to how a person manages and coaches in their life but it’s definitely a change of pace for the Cardinals to have a coach who’s full devotion is to football and coaching.
2. Kliff Kingsbury’s high school and family life growing up had a major impact on him
Kingsbury talks about his father, who’s a war veteran and was his football coach growing up at his high school (yep, another coach’s son). His mom seemed to be the “heart” of the family while his father was the one who kept pushing him and his brother.
(Yep, he’s got a brother, ladies, even if Kliff himself is currently dating personality Holly Saunders, see below).
Please get off my mind...thanks pic.twitter.com/N2hWJk4wsU— Holly Sonders (@holly_sonders) February 21, 2019
Alright, enough of that and back to the important stuff....
The combination that Kliff talks about his parents so much puts a spotlight onto not just how young he is, but also paints a picture of the coach. He seems to try to put values like family first as a priority and has that as a compass for his life and in relationships.
Hearing him speak gave the impression of a VERY different culture than Steve Wilks and Bruce Arians possessed of a separation between coach and player and more of relationships and family, which might be something we see once hitting the season with the players.
And as we’ll get into below, he comes off as quite humble, a big reason as to why he was hired.
3. Adrian Wilson’s got a major role within the Cardinals organization
We finally got a title for Adrian Wilson!
V.P. of Stuff.
I like it.
The above quote from Bruce Arians seems to sum up what scout Adrian Wilson is there for. A different perspective to help the Cardinals get better...and he’s held in tremendous esteem apparently by Bidwill and Keim as this episode made clear.
Wilson apparently had a major impact on the hiring of Kliff Kingsbury by being prepped and aware of not only what he was looking for in addition to the X’s and O’s but also a player perspective on Kingsbury.
A telling quote was Wilson saying that Kingsbury fully admitting that he needed help and didn’t have it all figured out. For some, it might be a sign of weakness, but for Wilson, as a former player, he saw it as a point of confidence and something that he appreciated as a player ahead of other candidates.
Given that Steve Wilks, at times, would in interviews seem to push responsibility onto the players and that “their game plan was fine, we just didn’t execute” it might not be surprising that a coach who leads by example in striving to improve and get better would appeal to Wilson.
It would appear the Cardinals are grooming Adrian Wilson to be a GM at some point. Another way to follow Larry Wilson.— Jess Root (@senorjessroot) February 22, 2019
Wilson seems to be primed for great things with the Cardinals...
4. This season spent a lot more time going over the assistant coaches than last year
There were interviews and specific segments given to Vance Joseph, Sean Kugler, Greg Williams. James Saxon and even former Cardinals DC Bill Davis.
...I don’t even remember any segments last year on Al Holcomb.
It seems like the Cardinals are expecting their coaching staff to step up big-time given the lack of experience of their head coach and focusing on development and putting a lot onto their position coaches. It says a lot about how unorthodox Kliff’s hiring was, but also in how Arizona went about choosing the staff.
Like Kugler said, normally head coaches know their staff and their coaches...by pulling together a group of guys who aren’t as familiar (save maybe Joseph and Kugler and some of the other Broncos coaches) it’s got an interesting chance to either be something special meshing together or, to see some heads butting.
Though perhaps the latter ain’t such a bad idea...
5. Robert Alford specifically picked the Cardinals due to playing across from Patrick Peterson
It’s been guessed that perhaps the Cardinals push to sign Alford to a 3-year deal might have put them ahead of other teams, but the 30 year old Alford definitely was effusive in his praise of Peterson, even going as far as to say that he could learn from him.
Peterson is younger than Alford, so this is tremendous praise.
The Cardinals are hopeful that finding a true CB2 across from Peterson can help improve their low standing from last year.
You can watch the episode below on the Cardinals’ Youtube channel or on Facebook Watch: