From the day he was hired in 2019 until today, Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure with the Arizona Cardinals has been a mixed bag of cuiriousty, intrigue and speculation.
It all comes to a head this Sunday.
Are we in the last days of the Lion King’s reign? Or will Kliff and his beloved zodiac sign have as many coaching lives as a feline?
Before you scream, “He’s going to be fired you idiot!”, consider this: Michael Bidwill is making the decision, not me. I've been screaming about Kliff needing to be fired for two full years and have the receipts.
The best predictor or future performance is past behavior. Last year, the Cardinals collapsed. Last year, Kingsbury’s leadership of this team was clearly a contributor to that collapse. It was glaringly obvious to everyone paying attention that at the least, Kliff should be given an ultimatum to win or else in 2022.
Instead, Bidwill gave him a rich, long term contract extension.
Bidwill has shown a willingness to avoid reality before, why wouldn’t he do so again?
When I asked Kent Somers from the Arizona Republic the percentage chance Kliff would still be the Cardinals head coach on Monday, he put it at 40%.
Here’s the scenario that could unfold: Bidwill makes a permanent change at GM by promoting from within, scolds Kliff into hiring a real deal offensive coordinator and sits back and admires himself.
Or he could reckon with the fact that his own leadership has contributed to the Cardinals franchise derailing, make wholesale changes no matter the cost of buyouts, pursue the most qualified head coaching candidate available, cede personal control and involvement and spare no resource in hiring the best external GM and HC candidates who could establish a completely different organizational culture than the one that has been in place for decades.
Which one sounds more like the Michael Bidwill you’ve come to know?
This is not a question about whether Kliff Kingsbury should be fired. He’s never really had any equity as a coach because he probably never should have been hired in the first place. Sure, he’s done some good things, the players like him and he seems like a well meaning person but the results are the results.
The Cardinals will finish the year as one of the top 5 most heavily penalized teams for the fourth year in a row. The Cardinals defense will have statistically outperformed the offense, Kliff’s baby, for the third year in a row. The Cardinals are 5-17 (likely soon to be 5-18) in their last 22 games dating back more than a full calendar year. They are 1-13 in their last 14 home games. They have lost every meaningful game they have played dating back to December of 2020. Their franchise quarterback has not progressed. Their fan base is fed up.
I know this. You know this. Does the only person that matters know this, Michael Bidwill?
Its either going to be Black Monday for Kliff Kingsbury or Black Monday for the Cardinals fan base. The choice is all Bidwill’s.