Dave Dameshek of NFL.com has a long-running alternate NFL history series about the potential repercussions of certain actions. If a certain NFL team had drafted this player, or if someone had chosen to go somewhere else in a trade, etc.
Football fans themselves do it all the time. “What if the Cardinals had drafted Adrian Peterson?” or a scenario where they select LB Justin Houston (who went one pick later) over TE Rob Housler?
While it might not have much bearing on reality, it’s certainly an intriguing and even entertaining discussion.
So let’s apply this to the 2019 Arizona Cardinals...
As we all know, Kliff Kingsbury was hired on January 9th, 2019 by the Cardinals after flying back from the New York Jets interview, supposedly, turning down that job.
SOURCE #USC OC/QB coach Kliff Kingsbury is meeting with the New York Jets now regarding their head coaching vacancy.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 7, 2019
The reasons? Supposedly, issues with the Jets FO forcing Gregg Williams on him, perhaps preferring Rosen to Darnold, a lack of insight or fit with the team...or maybe it was that Arizona had the #1 pick and he had a shot at Kyler Murray?
We might not know for sure, and most Cardinals fans after seeing the drama unfold in New York as it has are certainly grateful by comparison.
But what if that was NOT the case?
What if the Jets DID lure Kingsbury or, as a counter, what if the Cardinals interview a few days previously with Adam Gase went surprisingly well?
Let’s take a trip in the Delorean and rewrite some history!
ENTER THE ALTERNATE UNIVERSE
-January 9, 2019
The Arizona Cardinals have come to terms with their newest head coach, Adam Gase. They are excited about his working and development of Josh Rosen. Gase is going to help rebuild the offense and brings experience to the role.
Meanwhile in New York, the briefly USC OC Kliff Kingsbury is announced as the newest head coach of the New York Jets. Kingsbury is excited for the opportunity to work with a mobile QB in Sam Darnold although in interviews he seems less than thrilled about being paired up with DC Gregg Williams, formerly of the Browns.
Both teams with their 2018 QB’s are looking forward to a new era of football for their teams and top 3 picks in a loaded defensive draft.
-January 10th, 2019
A video of Kliff Kingsbury is found with him praising Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray, saying “he’d take him #1 overall if he could”. As the Jets have the #3 pick, and not the #1 overall pick, it doesn’t get a lot of traction after the Jets and Kingsbury express their commitment to the pick. It’s also known that the Jets scouting department under Maccagnan doesn’t often take insight from their coaches on players and the Jets media is scoffed at for running with the idea.
NFL perception of Darnold is there. On Arizona’s side, some pre-draft takes that Adam Gase had about Josh Rosen end up being leaked by Dolphins sources.
Cardinals coaching candidate Adam Gase reportedly had concerns about Josh Rosen https://t.co/Z51kvWwl47— Jess Root (@senorjessroot) January 1, 2019
The rumors begin: Could Adam Gase & the Cardinals end up moving on from Josh Rosen? It’s shot down with a tweet with Gase saying “Josh is our guy.” but the national pundits bandy it about for a few more weeks as Kyler Murray declares for the NFL along with Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
February 25th, 2019
Reports are coming out from the Jets that Kingsbury is a mild-manners guy who’s content to seemingly let GM Mike Maccagnan run things, but DC Gregg Williams seems to gain a voice in the room and is reportedly upset about new ST coach Jeff Rodgers being named the assistant head coach, meaning he has the power to address the entire team. Meanwhile Arizona is filled with nothing but drama.
New head coach Adam Gase seems to have gained the ear of owner Michael Bidwill and there’s reports of friction between him and Rosen from their interactions. Many feel like Gase wants to move on and get “his guy” and reports of a schism take place.
March 3rd, 2019
The #1 report out of the NFL combine in 2019 is that the Arizona Cardinals might be planning to take Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins #1 overall. He fits Gase’s idea of a pocket passer, and rumors of the Jets & Kliff having secret interest in Kyler Murray along with Oakland’s Jon Gruden sets the football world on fire. Could TWO 2018 QB’s be available in trade?
Kliff Kingsbury addresses the media and rumors with a chuckle and talks about Darnold, and the Jets seem to put their foot down on drafting another quarterback after trading 3 2nd round picks for one. Kliff likes Darnold’s athleticism and after meeting him, it seems like the “Kyler” reunion fades. But some in the NFL still wonder if Darnold’s going to fit his air raid scheme well enough or what it might have looked like with Kyler Murray.
March 5th, 2019
With Adam Gase pushing the Cardinals forward, the intrigue of keeping the #1 pick intact isn’t nearly as important to him as getting “his guys”. The rest of Arizona’s offseason along with OC Dowell Loggains works to add some veteran receivers to the team but all people can talk about is the QB. He pushes until Bidwill & Keim believe that Haskins is better than Rosen from their film, despite them liking the electric play of Kyler Murray, Keim determines that since he didn’t find the right fit with his head coach last year, he shouldn’t force it in what could be his last job.
Adam Schefter breaks the news that Josh Rosen could be available for trade, which is instantly disputed and shot down by the Cardinals.
Arizona in Keim and Bidwill decide that it will be best to quietly shop Rosen and see if they can land a 1st by the time of the draft. Keim being the one with final say, Gase is upset behind closed doors at the decision, while Keim is upset that Gase doesn’t seem to like Kyler Murray or his preference, Quinnen Williams.
April 25th, 2019
Come the day of the NFL draft, the Cardinals select....QB Dwayne Haskins. Gase isn’t seen on the television screen having arranged the furniture to sit on the other side of the room. Bidwill and Keim seem excited but are a bit trepidatious given the awkward situation with Josh Rosen.
Meanwhile, the Niners fans thrilled that Nick Bosa seems to be falling to them are shocked when the Niners TRADE BACK to pick #4 as the Oakland Raiders jump Kliff Kingsbury and the Jets to select Kyler Murray #2 overall and another QB is now available: Derek Carr. Apparently those Kliff & Kyler rumors, despite it all, scared them just enough...
The Jets are thrilled to have Quinnen Williams as their #1 player there for them at 3 to add to Gregg Williams’ defense, and the Niners can’t believe their luck in trading back to pick #4.
April 26th, 2019
Day 2 of the draft begins with a bang, as rumors of the Redskins looking at trading for Josh Rosen and the Raiders’ reportedly are communicating with the Dolphins about swinging a deal for QB Derek Carr.
At the start of round 2, knowing Patrick Peterson will be suspended, the Cardinals seem set to select Byron Murphy with their top pick, but head coach Adam Gase makes a large push to take an offensive lineman to protect Haskins as he’s not the most mobile guy.
Keim wants to stick to their board but the argument is a good one and they decide to trade back a few spots for a 4th round pick as the Jags move up to 33 for OT Jawaan Taylor, and Arizona goes with OL Cody Ford a few picks later.
Having quietly shopped Rosen for a bit, Steve Keim makes a deal with a team to give them the quarterback they wouldn’t have been able to get at all in this year’s draft in Josh Rosen.
With Haskins going #1 and Murray going #2, the Washington Redskins trade pick #46 to the Arizona Cardinals, who now select....LSU CB Greedy Williams with that pick.
Keim and Gase now should be content, though Gase wouldn’t have minded double-dipping on offensive linemen or going with a wide receiver.
In New York, the Jets take pass-rusher Jachai Polite to finish off Day 2 of the draft, sticking to their plan and board while Carr is traded for two third round picks after the Dolphins move back a few spots to gain 2019 and 2020 3rd round picks.
April 27th, 2019
Round 4 begins and WR Terry McLaurin, an Ohio State guy with speed that the team liked ends up being their pick in the 4th given the relationship between him and Haskins.
The Jets front office and Kliff Kingsbury is thrilled when the Jets select...WR Hakeem Butler a few picks into the start of round 4. While the Jets FO don’t usually listen to their head coach, this time the stars aligned for Kliff to land a player that he coveted, and over the phone promises Butler, a player he hadn’t recruited that “he wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.”
Back in Arizona, the Cardinals have an extra 4th still from their trade back with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Day 2.
Adam Gase wants a tight end, but the player he wanted in Dawson Knox goes off the board ahead of them and so Arizona drafts TE Trevon Wescoe in his place.
Meanwhile, new Redskins quarterback Josh Rosen talks about how he’ll be excited to throw to his new speedy deep threat/slot receiver Andy Isabella in his first D.C. interview along with the other Washington weapons, and the draft comes to an end.
May 15th, 2019
It’s been a few weeks after the draft has ended
Despite people praising the Cardinals’ draft for addressing needs, the post-draft tension between Keim and Gase seems to worsen. Gase didn’t like how long Arizona waited to move on from Rosen, even having to have practiced with him a few times, and is convinced Arizona could have gotten more if they’d started shopping him sooner.
At last, the Cardinals ownership gives in and decides to double down on offense given Keim’s missteps and the thought of firing him along with Wilks comes back in. On May 15th, GM Steve Keim is let go as Arizona decides to move on, with reports of Gase potentially targeting either Peyton Manning or the Eagles’ Joe Douglas.
The leading story on ESPN after Keim is fired is the new term “Dysfunction in the Desert” with comparisons to the Browns of the last few years and some wondering if Haskins can survive behind Arizona’s offensive line and with Gase now as the interim GM.
Keim finds a spot on the Raiders’ staff as the Assistant Director of Player Personnel under his friend Jon Gruden in a few days with a quarterback he did like in Kyler Murray now having some new weapons to throw deep to in Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and former cardinal J.J. Nelson.
Meanwhile, Jets fans are excited to see the Darnold-Butler connection in Kliff’s air-raid scheme and are cautiously optimistic about the future.
So there you have it.
In the end...
- Rosen still moves out of AZ, but with Steve Keim too this time
- Kyler’s a Raider with Bosa a Niner
- Kliff’s got Darnold & Butler in NY
- Carr makes his way to Miami
In real life, I’m not sure if Arizona would have hired Gase given the control issues Keim would have seen, same going for Kingsbury having to put up with a GM potentially on the way out and a brash, ruthless DC in Gregg Williams that would have been forced upon him.
But it’s interesting to think about.
What do you think, Birdgang?
Is this alternate future possible or do you think it’s too far-fetched?
You can follow @blakemurphy7 on Twitter.