Kliff Kingsbury

AFC Notes: Titans, Roman, Kingsbury

Matt LaFleur‘s defection to Green Bay leaves Tennessee without an offensive coordinator. They have not conducted any known interviews and are operating deliberately. GM Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel have met several times this week discussing what the best course of action should be, so interviews are likely coming soon. Whichever way the Titans go, they will be asking Marcus Mariota to learn a fourth offensive system in his five-year career. Ken Whisenhunt ran the Titans’ offense in 2015, before being fired, then Mike Mularkey took over before giving way to LaFleur. Robinson appears to want to retain some of LaFleur’s concepts, however.

I think if that can happen so that there is some carry-over, some familiarity there, so that not just Marcus but all of our players on offense, the less that we have to put on their plate to learn the different terminology, the different concepts, if there’s carry-over, then I think they can build upon what they’ve kind of gone through the last year,” Robinson said, via Eric Bacharach of The Tennesseean. “So we’ll do our best to try to keep as much continuity as possible carrying over into the offseason and certainly into next season.”

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Eric Berry, Spencer Ware and Malik Hooker are out for today’s ChiefsColts divisional-round game. Berry is still dealing with the heel trouble that has sidetracked his career, and Ware is out with a hamstring malady. Hooker started against the Texans but missed practice this week with a foot ailment.
  • The Ravens’ Greg Roman promotion partially stemmed from ensuring he would not accept another OC role in the AFC East. The Dolphins sought the former Bills offensive coordinator for their OC role, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. HC frontrunner Brian Flores had Roman on his staff list. Another name to pop up on Flores’ early list: Kliff Kingsbury. The now-Cardinals HC appears to have had a path to Miami as Flores’ play-caller, Breer adds (on Twitter). But despite his sub-.500 Texas Tech record, Kingsbury received a much bigger promotion than the Dolphins had in mind.
  • Jets staffer Tyler Tettleton will join the Browns as an offensive quality control coach, per Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports (on Twitter). Tettleton was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma for two years during Baker Mayfield‘s tenure in Norman.

Cardinals Interested In Dom Capers For DC?

Longtime NFL defensive coordinator Dom Capers‘ name has been “kicked around” by the Cardinals and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Kingsbury is just 39 years old and has never coached at the NFL level in any capacity, leading Arizona general manager Steve Keim to remark that landing a veteran DC would be an “ideal” outcome (Twitter link via Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com). Moreover, given their history and personnel on defense, the Cardinals are interested in hiring a coordinator who will primarily deploy a 3-4 front.

Capers would fit both of those parameters. At age 68, he’s nearly 30 years older than Kingsbury, and he’s been coaching in the NFL since 1986 (with ample collegiate experience dating back to 1972). Not only has Capers served as a defensive coordinator for multiple clubs, but he’s been a head coach at two stops (Panthers, Texans), meaning he could presumably offer counsel to Kingsbury as the latter enters his first pro job.

Capers also runs a 3-4 scheme, and did so during the duration of his most recent NFL gig, a nine-year stint as the Packers’ DC. Green Bay’s defense admittedly struggled near the end of Capers’ run: in 2017, the Packers ranked just 22nd in total defense and 20th in defensive DVOA.

Arizona’s defense, meanwhile, ranked 17th in DVOA last season, and that figure may be even more impressive that it initially looks. Opposing offenses — on average — started their drives against the Cardinals on their own 29.5-yard line, the seventh-easiest starting position in the NFL. Additionally, Arizona’s offense’s drives were the shortest in the league in terms of elapsed clock (two minutes, sixteen seconds on average), meaning the club’s defense was constantly on the field.

Kingsbury will be calling offensive plays, tweets James Palmer of NFL Network, so he’ll need an established defensive mind in place. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, Kingsbury’s collegiate background could mean he doesn’t have the pro connections required to build out a staff. With that in in mind, Kingsbury says he’ll lean on Keim as he formulates his inaugural coaching group, per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

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Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury Eyeing Jake Spavital

If you thought the young and green Kliff Kingsbury would automatically surround himself with a grizzled coaching staff, think again. The Cardinals’ new head coach is eyeing Texas State head coach Jake Spavital as an offensive coordinator candidate, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic (on Twitter).

Spavital and Kingsbury coached together at Houston, so they have history together. It’s fair to assume that Kingsbury will be calling the plays in Arizona regardless of who the OC hire is, but there’s no official word on that front yet. Assuming Kingsbury wants to call the plays, the 33-year-old Spavital would fit the mold of someone who would accept an OC gig with lessened responsibilities.

From Spavital’s perspective, this could be an opportunity to take a major step up the coaching ladder. He might not call plays as the Cards’ OC, but other coaches such as Matt LaFleur have used similar setups as a stepping stone to head coaching positions.

Reactions To Cardinals Hiring Kliff Kingsbury

The Cardinals reached by hiring Kliff Kingsbury, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic opines. Kingsbury satisfies the team’s desire for a young and innovative offensively-minded coach, but his lack of NFL experience is cause for alarm in Somers’ view.

Steve Spurrier, for example, fell on his face as an NFL coach and Chip Kelly‘s luck ran out after his first two years with the Eagles. Some could argue that Kingsbury is a hire in the Sean McVay mold, but as Somers notes, McVay spent nine years as an NFL assistant before landing the Rams gig.

Here’s more on the Cardinals and Kingsbury:

  • Per the terms of his contract at USC, Kingsbury owes the school a $150K buyout to resign and take the Cardinals head coaching job, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. There was much discussion about the buyout being a barrier to an NFL deal, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep him from joining the pro ranks. In all likelihood, the Cardinals will pick up the tab for that.
  • Cardinals team president Michael Bidwill didn’t like former coach Steve Wilks’ plan for the future, as Jonathan Jones of Sports Illustrated writes. “Looking at his plan for 2019 I just didn’t feel like it was a plan that I wanted to get behind,” Bidwill said. With that said, its unclear whether Bidwill actually discussed Wilks’ future plans in depth before firing him on Dec. 31. It’s also curious that he feels more secure in Kingsbury’s five-year plan given that he has never coached in the NFL.
  • Speaking of the Cardinals, the Buccaneers agreed to hire former Cards coach Bruce Arians on Tuesday night. The Cardinals claimed that they still hold Arians’ rights (even though he retired in 2017), so they were able to finagle a small amount of draft capital out of Tampa Bay.

Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals Finalizing HC Deal

The Cardinals are set to reach outside the box for their next head coach. Kliff Kingsbury is in Arizona finalizing a deal to become the franchise’s next sideline leader, Peter Schrager of Fox Sports reports (on Twitter).

This agreement should be completed soon, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Kingsbury met with the Jets about their HC opening, but it looks like the Cardinals are moving in to form a Kingsbury-Josh Rosen pairing, with Sam Darnold‘s next coach to be determined.

The sides have completed the deal, Rapoport tweets. It is a four-year agreement that includes a fifth-year team option, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

In an offseason geared around finding coaches that can help teams rejuvenate their offenses, this hire stands out.

Texas Tech fired Kingsbury after six seasons, and the 39-year-old offensive mind landed as USC’s offensive coordinator. The Trojans initially blocked Kingsbury from interviews with the Jets and Cards before allowing them, and it looks like the Pac-12 program will have to find another OC, again. Kingsbury has a small buy-out in his USC contract, per The Athletic’s Jay Glazer, who adds that the university has said Kingsbury did not resign (as rumors suggested he might after being blocked from Jets and Cardinals meetings).

The Cardinals ranked as the NFL’s worst offense, both in yardage and scoring, last season. They had previously not made a coach a one-and-done in more than 65 years. But this ineffectiveness and the team’s plunge toward 3-13 led to Steve Wilks’ ouster. Arizona scored the NFL’s second-most points in 2015 and ranked sixth as recently as 2016, but the Bruce AriansCarson Palmer era ending gutted the franchise.

A year after Arizona went through a methodical search that ended with a late-January Wilks hire, the franchise is taking a gamble on Kingsbury’s innovative abilities. Every Cardinals candidate — on a list headed by Adam Gase, Jim Caldwell and Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemyhad an offensive background.

Kingsbury convinced both Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield to come to Lubbock, Texas, and led one of Division I’s most explosive attacks during his tenure. While the Red Raiders have traditionally deployed such potency on offense, Kingsbury once serving as one of many quarterbacks capable of posting big numbers, the NFL is gravitating increasingly toward college-based schemes. This made Kingsbury an attractive candidate, despite his recent firing and now-brief USC employment. Case Keenum also set NCAA passing records during Kingsbury’s two years as the University of Houston’s co-offensive coordinator.

That said, the Red Raiders went 35-40 under Kingsbury since 2013. In an era where new bowls continue to spawn, Texas Tech failed to qualify for a bowl game in three of those seasons. There was also a noticeable drop from the final Mahomes season (fifth in scoring) to the post-Mahomes teams — 23rd in points in 2017, 100th in 2018 — for the Red Raiders’ offense. Mahomes threw for more than 5,000 yards in 2016, however, and although Mayfield ended up excelling at Oklahoma, his success further attracted teams to Kingsbury.

Still, the Cardinals figure to have one of the NFL’s most interesting offensive setups next season. The Cards fired Mike McCoy midseason and pivoted to Byron Leftwich. But their offense sputtered throughout, accumulating countless injuries up front. This combination stunted Rosen’s growth and essentially squandered a year of David Johnson‘s prime. Kingsbury will be tasked with making Steve Keim‘s Rosen investment pay off.

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Cardinals To Interview Kliff Kingsbury

Former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury will interview with the Cardinals for their head coaching job on Tuesday, a league source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Kingsbury was reportedly blocked from interviews by USC, who recently hired him to be their offensive coordinator, but the Jets and Cardinals have found some sort of work around. 

After Kingsbury’s interview with Gang Green on Monday, no one is quite sure about his employment status. As far as we know, he’s still signed up to be the offensive coordinator of the Trojans, but it’s possible that he has resigned from the post in order to pursue his NFL dreams.

Kingsbury built a reputation for innovative and explosive schemes at Texas Tech, but he would be an out-of-the-box hire for the Cardinals or the Jets. Then again, the Cardinals also have young offensive wizard Zac Taylor on the radar, so they’re not squarely locked in on head coaching retreads.

In addition to Kingsbury and Taylor, other known candidates for the job include Jim Caldwell, Dan Campbell, and Adam Gase.

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Kliff Kingsbury Meeting With Jets

It’s been only an hour since we heard that former Texas Tech coach and current USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury would begin interviewing with NFL teams after USC previously denied his permission, and now he’s already taking his first meeting. 

Kingsbury is meeting with the Jets today about their head coaching vacancy, a source told Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports (Twitter link). The Jets and Cardinals have been the two teams most heavily linked to Kingsbury, and the report earlier today was that there was “strong mutual interest” between Kingsbury and the Cardinals. Now it sounds like the Jets might be hoping to steal him away before Arizona ever gets the chance.

Kingsbury was known for always running innovative and creative offenses at Texas Tech, and there’s been a lot of NFL buzz about him as the league’s offenses trend more and more toward adapting college concepts. The Jets are seemingly looking for an offensive mind to pair with Sam Darnold, so Kingsbury would certainly make sense.

New York interviewed Jim Caldwell earlier today, and has been linked to several other offensive coaches like Mike McCarthy and Jim Harbaugh. At this point Kingsbury seems like a solid bet to make the jump to the pro ranks, whether it’s as a head coach or an offensive coordinator.

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Kliff Kingsbury To Interview For NFL Jobs

After a week of drama, Kliff Kingsbury will begin interviewing for NFL jobs after all, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports (Twitter link). 

Adam Schefter of ESPN confirmed Glazer’s report in a tweet, adding that Kingsbury is “square in the HC mix.” Glazer’s initial tweet indicated that Kingsbury had resigned as USC’s offensive coordinator in order to be able to interview, while Schefter’s only states that “USC initially blocked him from doing so.” Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted that a USC official told him Kingsbury is still employed there, so it seems like he hasn’t resigned at this point.

We first heard last week that the Jets and Cardinals were interested in interviewing Kingsbury, but then word came that USC’s athletic director was blocking him from interviewing. There was a report a couple of days ago that he could resign in order to pursue NFL opportunities, and that report stated his contract with USC had a “very low buyout” and that Kingsbury would “undoubtedly find work at least as an offensive coordinator” in the NFL.

There’s a “growing perception in league circles” that the Cardinals “are seriously considering Kingsbury for their position”, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (Twitter link). Sources also told Schefter that there was “strong mutual interest” between Kingsbury and the Cardinals prior to the athletic director blocking things. With that hurdle out of the way, Kingsbury will now presumably interview for Arizona’s job as well as the one in New York.

While Kingsbury’s tenure at Texas Tech was never particularly successful in terms of wins and losses, he always had one of the most innovative and dynamic offenses in the country, and is a highly respected offensive mind. It’s been reported for a while now that NFL teams were looking to pick his brain, and he did develop Patrick Mahomes with the Red Raiders. He’s been linked recently to the Patriots’ offensive coordinator job if Josh McDaniels were to leave to take a head coaching gig, and Tom Brady sung his praises on the radio earlier today, according to Zack Cox of NESN.com.

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Kliff Kingsbury Could Resign From USC To Pursue NFL Opportunities

We first heard a few days ago that the Jets and Cardinals were interested in interviewing former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury for their head coaching vacancies. Kingsbury was hired to be the offensive coordinator at USC shortly after the college season ended, and we heard earlier today that USC was denying the NFL teams permission to talk to him.

Now we have more details, and a possible scenario for Kingsbury to circumvent his current employer. It’s specifically USC athletic director Lynn Swann who is blocking any potential interviews, and Kingsbury may resign in response, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Multiple sources told Florio that Kingsbury’s contract with USC has a “very low buyout”, so he might “simply resign his position as Trojans offensive coordinator and move on.”

If he does decide to quit and pursue NFL opportunities, Florio thinks he’ll “undoubtedly find work at least as an offensive coordinator”, and if that’s true it makes plenty of sense why he’d want to leave. Both the Jets and Cardinals are likely looking for offensive coaches to pair with Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen, and Kingsbury would be a young outside the box hire.

While Kingsbury’s reign at Texas Tech was never particularly successful in terms of wins and losses, he always had one of the most innovative and dynamic offenses in the country, and is a highly respected offensive mind. It’s been reported for a while now that NFL teams were looking to pick his brain, and he was linked to the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator job before Dallas’ staff saved their jobs with a strong finish.

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Jets, Cardinals Denied Permission To Interview Kliff Kingsbury

It sounds like the Cardinals and Jets may not be interviewing former Texas Tech head coach and current USC coordinator Kliff Kingsbury after all. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that USC has denied the NFL teams permission to interview their offensive coordinator. Previous reports indicated that Kingsbury would indeed be interviewing with Arizona and New York.

As Schefter notes, this news is a “perfect storm of the NFL’s new enforcement of an old rule.” League officials recently informed team executives that they had to request permission from athletic directors in order to interview college head coaches. If teams didn’t follow this protocol, it’d be considered “conduct detrimental” to the league, at which time the NFL could “dock draft picks” from the applicable teams.

“If permission is denied, the NFL club should respect that decision just as it would respect a similar decision from another NFL club,” the rule states. “NFL clubs that fail to follow these protocols may be subject to disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the League.”

Following a 5-7 campaign, Kingsbury was fired by Texas Tech in late November. Despite his lackluster tenure at the school, NFL teams have taken notice of his ability to develop quarterbacks; Kingsbury ultimately brought both Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield to Lubbock, Texas.

After declining a chance to become the head coach of the University of Houston, he quickly caught on as USC’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, replacing Tee Martin. Prior to accepting the USC gig, the coach reportedly received overtures from NFL teams. However, since that time, Kingsbury has continued to say that he is solely focused on his current gig with the Trojans.

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