Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t expected to be the “CEO” head coach that Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll and Mike Zimmer are this early, but then again, none of us expected a pandemic to be sweeping our nation.
Steve Keim giveth DeAndre Hopkins, and it looks like Roger Goodell will taketh away most of the Cardinals’ offseason activities. Rookie minicamp and OTA offseason workouts were supposed to be the chance for Kingsbury to find a groove where he couldn’t find one during the whirlwind that was his first NFL offseason, but those are being delayed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yikes. That might explain why Fox Bets says the Cardinals have the fifth worst odds to make the NFC playoffs, despite an incredibly productive offseason.
Vegas is telling us that with a lack of certainty and facetime with players this offseason, veteran coaches like Sean Peyton, Kyle Shanahan, Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh have the edge. Those coaches have moved past the fish-out-of-water stage, and into the able-to-handle-a-pandemic stage.
Kingsbury, on the other hand, wasn’t hired to handle big problems. He didn’t hire a large part of his original coaching staff, he had very little NFL coaching experience and he has relatively little life experience compared to most pro-level head coaches. Kingsbury was brought in to make Kyler Murray great, and broaden his own coaching development from there.
Phase two of that developmental process was for Steve Keim to bring in talented, veteran free agents. Managing those new players correctly was supposed to be this year’s big task for Kingsbury, the same way Sean McVay was tasked with managing newly-acquired Aqib Talib, Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Brandin Cooks.
While McVay had OTA’s and rookie minicamp to feel out his new starters last year, Kingsbury might not have that chance. That could present real problems.
Between DeAndre Hopkins, Jordan Phillips, De'Vondre Campbell, Devon Kennard and whoever the Cardinals take with the 8th pick, Kingsbury will have to bring along five new starters into his culture, without, in all likelihood, having an elongated chance to meet with them in person.
Time for Kingsbury to put his CEO hat on. The NFL waits for no one.
Coaches like Belichick, Peyton and Shanahan will take the next few weeks to decide whether their organizations are equipped to technologically get over the hurdles presented by COVID-19. They’ll evaluate members of their operations staff, not just coaching staff, and make changes necessary to have a productive offseason, despite a lack of proximity to their players.
Will Kingsbury pivot? He’s got no choice, now.