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Opinion: Kliff Kingsbury’s press conference was the Cardinals first “win” of the year

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Humility leads to change and the coach’s own admission is a good place for the Kliff and Kyler era to start

NFL: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Last year after the Cardinals’ 24-6 loss to the Washington Redskins, a game in which they were out-coached, outmaneuvered and made little to no half-time adjustments, I was anxious to hear the explanation.

When failure is at the forefront, leadership takes over, no matter the family, the industry or the football field.

In 2018 with Steve Wilks, this was the presser we got:

Here’s what he opened with:

  • Very disappointing performance
  • Weren’t able to do too much on 3rd down
  • Couldn’t get off the field
  • Couldn’t stop the run
  • Gotta do a better job getting off blocks, using our hands
  • Getting downhill
  • Fitting into our gaps (the dreaded “G” word)
  • Tackling was the issue
  • Lot of the things we talk about in fundamentals showed up tonight
  • There’s some things we have to go back and correct, and that starts with me.
  • Repeated “and again, that starts with me” to finish the one minute opening statement

Took him approximately 37 seconds into the press conference above, after his breakdown of what went wrong, to admit his own fault in the matter.

In comparison, I want you to keep track of everything that Kliff Kingsbury mentioned in his post-game press conference after Week 1 before admitting fault.

Are you ready to keep count?

Here goes:

...See what I did there?

Kingsbury immediately took on the responsibility for the poor start and then credited his players afterwards for THEIR toughness rather than his own intuitive play calling down the stretch.

And perhaps this demonstrates part of why Kingsbury’s squad led a successful comeback bid this past week while the above coach in Wilks’s defense in Cleveland got 40 points hung on them this week.

The concept of learning from failure and mistakes, internalizing them, and making a change.

If you can’t fail or admit you’re wrong it’s hard to change. That’s part of the reason why many start up companies are now refusing to hire a person for an executive position who has never had to learn from failure. Wilks was never a head coach before at any level. He essentially needed time to learn and grow from failure...except he refused to essentially change.

Even late in the season when he job was all but gone and he was asked in an interview how he might have done things differently, he dodged the question and didn’t answer. Basically, saying he would NOT have done things differently, or was too proud to say it.

If I was a future employer, looking for someone who’s failed and learned from failure, that would have been a big red mark on that resume.

And Kingsbury, we forget WAS a head coach for a long period of time unlike Wilks, and he indeed experienced a lot of failure.

Enough failure that he never had a winning record and was fired, despite his top 10 offenses, pushing the status quo and multiple developing quarterbacks. And know what? That’s why the move was mocked by so many in the NFL.

The lack of success, right?

“The man was just fired, after all!”

Which is ironic considering that the greatest coach in the league, Bill Belichick, was a fired NFL head coach. After 1995 he was fired by the Cleveland Browns of all teams and ended up as the coach of the Patriots and has 6 rings to boot. Now, maybe what he needed that he didn’t have in Cleveland was a quarterback. I think many would say that Kliff Kingsbury making that move to acquire one who seems pretty special in Kyler Murray was a savvy move overall.

And at least for 1 quarter, it paid off. If Kingsbury can recognize fault, adjust and own up to his mistakes then I think a lot of level 5 leaders will agree that’s the best signs of a good coach that you can ask for.

Rallying people TO you by serving them, rather than blaming them for supposedly bringing you down.

In short....

I don’t know how successful Kliff Kingsbury will be in the NFL. I really don’t.

He might end up succeeding like no coach has before or might fall flat on his face continually in adapting to the pro game. But he owned up to his faults immediately and probably won over a lot of people in that locker room as a result in a way that Steve Wilks never could. And I think that’s what leads to wins, and we certainly saw how everyone rallied on Sunday.

It’s a refreshing sign of humility for a team that frankly hasn’t had it in a long, long time from their head coach.

And while the game ended in a tie in the standings technically, well...

It’s good enough to count as a “win” for me for this organization and for the community as a whole.