Cards HC Kliff Kingsbury’s Seat Warming?

Although the Cardinals notched a one-sided win over the Rams — in a game that featured two backup quarterbacks — the team only improved to 4-6. Months after extending the Steve KeimKliff KingsburyKyler Murray trio, the Cardinals have put together an underwhelming season.

Increased chatter has pointed to discord in the Cardinals organization, according to the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora, who notes the Murray-Kingsbury relationship hovers at the center of this. This relationship has deteriorated to the point Kingsbury, despite signing an offseason extension, may not be a lock to finish the season.

Kingsbury’s offseason extension did not merely buy him an extra year or two; the Cardinals extended both he and Keim through 2027. Financial details of this deal are not known, and the Panthers’ Matt Rhule situation may be relevant in this case. The Panthers will be off the hook for the post-2022 portion of Rhule’s salary if/when he lands a college HC position. Talk around the league has pointed to the possibility of the Cardinals-Kingsbury partnership ending in similar fashion, La Canfora adds, with the former Texas Tech HC potentially a candidate to end up back in the college ranks.

One general manager informed La Canfora he would be surprised if Kingsbury finished the season with the Cards. Considering where this situation was this offseason, that would make for a borderline-shocking outcome. But Arizona has been unable to string together wins this season, with Kingsbury’s offense being a steady concern.

Kingsbury, 43, is 28-30-1 as Arizona’s HC. The Cardinals showed signs of dominance last season, when they started 10-2 despite losing Murray for a stretch. Colt McCoy, as he did Sunday, fared well in relief of the Pro Bowl signal-caller in 2021. But the Cards tailed off, finishing 11-6 and losing five of their past six — including a blowout wild-card loss to the Rams. That made the lengthy Kingsbury extension rather surprising, and this season has not rewarded ownership’s faith.

The Cards have submitted slow starts in most of their games this season, and although productive sequences have taken place this year — a Week 2 comeback over the Raiders, a 42-point performance against the Saints, and the McCoy-led Rams victory — questions came in regarding Kingsbury’s status as the team’s play-caller recently. Kingsbury said he would be open to ceding that responsibility, but he has continued to call plays in his fourth season at the helm. The Saints matchup also featured a Kingsbury-Murray shouting match.

Upon taking the Cards job in 2019 — not long after being fired at Texas Tech — Kingsbury advocated for Murray with the No. 1 overall pick. The Cardinals became the first franchise since the 1982-83 Baltimore Colts (Art Schlichter, John Elway) to select QBs in back-to-back first rounds, trading Josh Rosen during the 2019 draft. Murray has been an original-vote Pro Bowler in each of the past two seasons, and the Cards reunited him with college teammate Marquise Brown this offseason. Of course, the Brown-DeAndre Hopkins duo playing together has been delayed due to Hopkins’ PED ban and Brown’s subsequent foot injury. That has undoubtedly hurt this Arizona attack, leading to the team’s Robbie Anderson trade. Murray has slipped to 22nd in QBR; he finished 14th and seventh in 2020 and ’21, respectively.

The Cardinals’ Week 10 win will buy Kingsbury more time, with JLC adding no change is imminent. But it appears Kingsbury will not be safe if the team continues on its current pace. This will obviously be a situation to monitor during the season’s second half.

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