This is probably unfair, but I just have I hard time looking at Kliff Kingsbury the same way I look at Belichick, Zimmer, Peyton, or even Shanahan. Is he a grinder? Is he miserable enough? Is he too pretty? I know it's unfair. I get that, but the emblematic stories about Kingsbury start with him flirting with recruits' mothers at Texas Tech, while Belichick's legend starts with him using ice picks to organize index cards at just 23 years old working for the Colts.
Two different eras, two different people, I get it. But you know what? They coach in the same league. That matters. When you're in a league full of 31 miserable, sleepless, unsatisfied coaches, it matters. When you're in the most well-coached division in football, featuring two coaches that've been to Super Bowls in the last five seasons and another whose team is a heavy betting favorite to get there this year, it matters. The fact is Kingsbury has signature abs, but no signature wins.
That's why this Sunday's game is so important for Kingsbury. It's his chance to shut idiots like me up. I mean really, what kind of dummy judges someone based on their looks anyway? And now, after his best coaching performance of the season this past Sunday against the Browns, Kingsbury has a chance to show his true character. Will the team show up in Seattle, or reel in the rain?
All season Kingsbury has come into games with a few offensive tricks in the bag, only to be left helpless when the tricks ran out. According to Sheil Kapadia at The Athletic, the Cardinals are tied for 9th in the NFL in points per opening possessions, but rank just 18th from their second possession on.
That wasn't the case against Cleveland. It was pure control from Arizona for four quarters. After the game Kingsbury said, "Let's make sure we don't look back."
Not looking back is the trademark of the great ones. Just listen to how many times Saban and Belichick reference that mindset here.
But a lot of coaches say that phrase, because they know greats like Saban and Belichick embody it. Can Kingsbury embody the grinder's mentality, or will he be satisfied after beating the NFL's most dysfunctional team?
Remember, Seattle is sneaky desperate. They know their team isn't great outside of Russell Wilson, and most of the metrics bear that out. But, they hold the number one seed in the NFC, and if they win out, they'll hold onto it. If they don't win, they could fall to the fifth seed and lose their playoff bye. The Seahawks are walking a tight rope, they're at home, and it's projected to be cold and wet at CenturyLink field on Sunday.
Effort level is a reflection of what players see from their leaders. The quarterback and the head coach. We know Kyler's desperate to win. He's said it, and shown it all season. After calling his most complete game of the season, is Kliff?
We'll see on Sunday.