After reports yesterday that former Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury was a leading candidate in Washington after deciding not to take the job in Las Vegas, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Kingsbury has agreed to become the next offensive coordinator for the Commanders. The team has now announced the hire.
Three days ago, the NFL world was under the impression that Kingsbury would become the next offensive play-caller in Las Vegas. That story changed yesterday with Kingsbury informing multiple people in the Raiders organization that he would not be joining the team. After a reported “contractual hang-up,” the Commanders swooped in, setting Kingsbury in their sights. Reportedly, Kingsbury was aiming for a three-year pact, and the Raiders only made a two-year offer. Per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, Washington awarded Kingsbury the three-year contract he desired.
New Commanders head coach Dan Quinn was one of five defensive-minded coaches to assume a new head coaching role this offseason. With the former offensive coordinators who took head coach jobs in Tennessee and Carolina planning to call plays for their respective offenses, it only made sense that Kingsbury would set his focus on the five other teams. With the Falcons and Patriots already having filled their roles, that left Vegas, Washington, and Seattle.
Another reason Washington makes sense is because, though it seems like an uphill battle right now, there’s still an outside chance that USC quarterback Caleb Williams could end up in DC with Kingsbury. Williams has long been considered the favorite to go No. 1 overall in this year’s draft. Though Chicago currently holds the rights to the top pick in the draft, the Commanders brass have made it clear that they have an interest in acquiring Williams. With Kingsbury’s most recent position being as a senior offensive analyst at USC over Williams, the new play-caller could be manifesting a reunion in Washington with his former college quarterback.
If not, Kingsbury will be tasked with righting the ship in Washington. Second-year quarterback Sam Howell was deemed the starter coming into 2023. For a team that spent a good amount of time behind, the Commanders depended a lot on Howell’s arm, resulting in the young passer leading the league in pass attempts. Unfortunately, the one-dimensional nature of the team’s offense led to Howell also leading the NFL in sacks taken, interceptions thrown, and pick sixes.
In Washington, Kingsbury will hope for better health in 2024 as he works to improve a porous offensive line. Antonio Gibson is set to be a free agent, but Brian Robinson and rookie running back Chris Rodriguez are both set to return for Kingsbury. Two of the team’s top receivers, Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, will be back with a potentially re-tooled supporting cast as Curtis Samuel, Jamison Crowder, and Byron Pringle are all set to test free agency.
Kingsbury will have his work cut out for him as he attempts to turn around an offense that finished 25th in points scored and 24th in yards gained. He may have the benefit of working with some new faces, but regardless, he should have a decent arsenal of weapons to help Quinn win some games in DC.