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Kliff Getting Some Props from PFF

NFL: Arizona Cardinals Rookie Minicamp Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Background: May 13, 2022; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury looks on during Rookie Minicamp at Dignity Arizona Cardinals Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale

PFF’s 2022 NFL Head Coach Rankings (Context: Head Coaches who can do the most with average talent)

What PFF has recognized is how Kliff Kingsbury’s offense “continues to hum” when some of his star players are missing.

When one goes back and looks at the offensive numbers that Kliff Kingsbury’s offenses have put up every single year that he has been calling plays —- at Houston, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and with the Arizona Cardinals —- the volume of production is consistently impressive.

What Kliff has proven is that his offenses can be highly productive with a variety of different QBs, both 1st string and 2nd string (when needed).

Keys to Kingsbury’s success are: (in my opinion)

  • Extraordinary work ethic.
  • Thirst to find and/or create new schemes and plays.
  • Exemplary adaptability in trying to cater his offenses to the strengths of his personnel.
  • Eagerness to listen to his coaches’ and players’ suggestions.
  • Teaching of isolation routes and complimentary combo routes.
  • Deep passing game concepts.
  • Teaching QB fundamentals.
  • Making his offense QB friendly.
  • Willingness and courage to take some calculated risks on 4th downs.
  • Yearning to establish a balanced offense —- run/pass —- vertical/horizontal.
  • Red zone running game schemes.

Kliff would be the first to say that he can do more to improve his offense.

Improvement Areas: (in my opinion)

  • Making the offense less predictable as the season goes along, as opposing DCs start to figure out the tendencies.
  • Not trying to please everyone.
  • Substituting his skill players more regularly in order to keep them fresh in 4th quarters and throughout a 17 game schedule.
  • Employing a FB in key short yardage situations in order to get straight on iso blocks on linebackers or defensive ends.
  • Having a quicker hook when some players aren’t having a good game.
  • Identifying and exploiting the opponents’ weaknesses, both in scheme and personnel.
  • Better communication between QBs and the rest of the offensive players on audible and “alert” calls.
  • Cleaner snaps.
  • Smoother, faster tempo.
  • Better execution of 2 minute offense.

With regard to this PFF HC ranking, Kliff is getting an avalanche of push back from NFL fans (and, in particular, Cardinals’ fans and media) who believe his #4 ranking is a joke. Obviously, the rankings might be thought of as randomly subjective, but PFF had a system of metrics that they adhered to based on the quality of the coaches’ personnel, their offensive/defensive numbers and the strength of the teams’ schedules. In other words, their rankings weren’t done haphazardly.

Here are some of the accomplishments that may have impressed them.

  • Getting a much stronger performance at LCB from Robert Alford in 2021 than from Patrick Peterson in 2020.
  • Having the team’s best sack season (48) in 2020 after Chandler Jones was lost in Week 5.
  • Using RB James Conner in creative ways en route to him making the Pro Bowl.
  • The masterful way in which Kliff utilized RB Chase Edmonds’ talents.
  • Getting superb, well-rounded play the first half of 2021 from TE Maxx Williams.
  • Tapping into QB Kyler Murray’s unique skills, both “on schedule” and “improvised.”
  • Going 2-1 with QB Colt McCoy, while Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins were sidelined, with the two wins coming against NFC West foes on the road.
  • Winning 25-22 in Dallas in Week 17 without D.J. Humphries, DeAndre Hopkins, James Conner and Rondale Moore.
  • Improving the team record from 3 to 5 (Y1) to 8 (Y2) to 11 (Y3).

The #4 ranking doesn’t mean as much, per se, as the credit that Kliff Kingsbury deserves for the positive leadership that he brings to the team.

“To be great is to be misunderstood.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Wow, what a paradox. What do you think Emerson means?