Kliff Kingsbury

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spun for several weeks, many teams made coordinator changes as well. Teams seeking new head coaches are conducting OC and DC searches, and a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

This is a big year for offensive coordinator hires, with nearly half the league making changes. Here are the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 3-1-23 (3:31pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals 

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Ben McAdoo)

  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach, (Rams): Hired
  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Kellen Moore)

  • Brian Angelichio, tight ends coach (Vikings): Interviewed 2/2
  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach (Rams): Interviewed
  • Jeff Nixon, running backs coach (Panthers): Interviewed
  • Brian Schottenheimer, offensive consultant (Cowboys): Hired

Denver Broncos (Out: Justin Outten)

Houston Texans (Out: Pep Hamilton)

Indianapolis Colts (Out: Parks Frazier)

  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Tee Martin, wide receivers coach (Ravens): Interview requested

Kansas City Chiefs (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Matt Nagy, quarterbacks coach (Chiefs): Hired

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Shane Steichen)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals (Out: Vance Joseph)

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Leslie Frazier)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Al Holcomb)

  • Ejiro Evero, former defensive coordinator (Broncos): Hired
  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): Interviewed
  • Marquand Manuel, safeties coach (Jets): Interviewed
  • Kris Richard, co-defensive coordinator (Saints): Interviewed

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans 

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Renaldo Hill)

  • Derrick Ansley, defensive backs coach (Chargers): Promoted
  • Doug Belk, defensive coordinator (Houston): Interviewed
  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Interviewed

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Ryan Nielsen, Kris Richard)

  • Joe Woods, former defensive coordinator (Browns): Hired

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Jonathan Gannon)

San Francisco 49ers (Out: DeMeco Ryans)

  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): On radar
  • Chris Harris, defensive backs coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/31
  • Kris Kocurek, defensive line coach (49ers): On radar
  • Steve Wilks, former interim head coach (Panthers): Hired

Coaching Notes: Cards, Kingsbury, Chargers

Mentioned as a candidate to reunite with Sean Payton, Mike Zimmer also may be under consideration for another reunion. Jonathan Gannon, one of Zimmer’s original hires with the Vikings back in 2014, appears to have the veteran coach on his radar for his Cardinals staff, Howard Balzer of gophnx.com tweets. Eagles linebackers coach Nick Rallis also may be on Gannon’s radar to head to Arizona, per Balzer. Gannon spent four seasons on Zimmer’s Minnesota staff, working as the Vikings’ assistant defensive backs coach. Rallis, 29, was on Zimmer’s Vikes staff from 2018-20, before joining the Eagles. It will be interesting to see if Zimmer, 66, has multiple options to return to an NFL post.

As for Gannon’s Cardinals staff as a whole, some of Kliff Kingsbury‘s assistants are in limbo. Vance Joseph and others have not been informed of their future with the Cards, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports tweets. Joseph was initially a candidate to replace Kingsbury and interviewed for the job, but the four-year Arizona DC did not reach the finalist stage.

With all five HC positions now filled, here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Back from Thailand, Kingsbury has now met with multiple teams. After interviewing for the Texans’ OC post, the four-year Cardinals HC met with the Ravens. The sides discussed an unspecified staff position, Anderson tweets. This Sunday interview of sorts did not produce an agreement. Kingsbury is still in line to collect considerable cash from his 2022 Cardinals extension, but the Texans and Ravens hired others — Bobby Slowik, Todd Monken, respectively — to run their offenses.
  • Staying in Baltimore, Monken will have input in how the next Ravens offensive staff looks, per Anderson. The Ravens, as should be expected given their situation, followed through with their pledge to involve Lamar Jackson in the OC search as well (Twitter links). Monken, who collected two national titles while at Georgia, last coached in the NFL as the Browns’ OC in 2019.
  • Justin Herbert‘s 2023 brain trust will consist of ex-Cowboy staffers. After hiring Kellen Moore, the Chargers are adding Doug Nussmeier as quarterbacks coach, Dianna Russini of ESPN.com tweets. Nussmeier, an OC at five college programs from 2008-17, was with the Cowboys for five seasons — the past three as QBs coach. The 52-year-old assistant had multiple offers for 2023 NFL gigs, per Russini (on Twitter).
  • As the Broncos cycled through head coaches over the past several seasons, they kept Zach Azzanni in place. A Joseph hire back in 2018, Azzani stayed on as wide receivers coach under Vic Fangio and Nathaniel Hackett. Azzanni interviewed with both the Bills and Jets for the AFC East clubs’ respective wide receivers coach roles over the past two days, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (on Twitter). While these meetings could signal Payton has other plans for this job, Pelissero adds the Broncos could still retain the highly regarded position coach to work for a fourth HC.
  • The Broncos will lose one of their quality control staffers to the Cowboys. Ramon Chinyoung is leaving Denver to become Dallas’ assistant offensive line coach, per 9News’ Mike Klis (on Twitter). The Cowboys are also hiring Will Harriger as an offensive assistant, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. Harriger, who spent last season as a USC assistant, has worked with both Brian Schottenheimer and Dan Quinn. Harriger previously served as the Seahawks’ assistant quarterbacks coach from 2016-18 and later was part of Quinn’s Falcons staff.
  • Shortly after the Broncos interviewed Rex Ryan for their DC job, the ESPN analyst’s son is in the mix for a title bump. The Jets requested an interview with Seth Ryan for their wide receivers coach position, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). A third-generation NFL coach, Seth is currently the Lions’ assistant receivers coach. Just 28, Ryan has an NFL assistant for four seasons. He has been with the Lions for the past two. Although Azzanni is also in the mix for this Jets job, Seth Ryan working for his father’s former team is on the radar.

Texans To Interview Kliff Kingsbury For OC

Kliff Kingsbury appears through with his vacation. The recently fired Cardinals coach is interviewing for a job on DeMeco Ryans‘ Texans staff, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets.

This is an offensive coordinator interview, Aaron Wilson of KPRC reports. The team has interviewed multiple OC candidates already; Kingsbury would check in with a higher profile. The Texans are meeting with Kingsbury today.

[RELATED: Texans To Hire Matt Burke As DC]

A mid-January report indicated Kingsbury had rejected OC interviews, instead telling teams he bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. Kingsbury’s only coaching job in the NFL came as a head coach, though he has extensive experience coaching in Texas. Prior to spending six seasons as Texas Tech’s head coach, Kingsbury was an offensive coordinator at Houston and Texas A&M. The former Texas Tech quarterback is a San Antonio-area native. Though a more relevant work sample can be studied from Kingsbury’s Cardinals tenure, he coached Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech and ran the offense during Johnny Manziel‘s 2012 Heisman-winning season.

Kingsbury’s Cardinals tenure unraveled quickly. The Cards gave he and then-GM Steve Keim through-2027 extensions in March 2022. That came after Kingsbury led the Cards to their first playoff berth since 2015. Arizona then finished 4-13, leading to the team canning its recently reupped HC. Despite steady rumblings of the Cards considering a dismissal, Kingsbury was believed to be taken aback by the firing.

The Texans have interviewed 49ers passing-game coordinator Bobby Slowik for their OC position and requested a meeting with Bengals wide receivers coach Troy Walters. Jerrod Johnson, the Vikings’ assistant quarterbacks coach, also interviewed for the job, Wilson tweets. None of these staffers has called plays in the NFL previously. A previous report suggested Kingsbury could take a break in 2023, but he is now entertaining the possibility of taking another job immediately.

Although Kingsbury’s Cardinals offenses drew criticism for a lack of downfield production, the team ranked as a top-eight unit in 2020 and ’21. Both those years produced Kyler Murray Pro Bowl invites, though Murray injuries affected each of those squads. Kingsbury’s team also lost DeAndre Hopkins for the 2021 stretch run, leading to a downturn ahead of a playoff blowout against the Rams. Last season brought an avalanche of issues for the Cards, who are still in the process of selecting their Kingsbury replacement.

Evidenced partially by Murray cursing out Kingsbury during a nationally televised Cardinals win over the Saints, the quarterback and the coach who pushed to bring him to Arizona were not seeing eye-to-eye last season. Hopkins’ PED ban and trade acquisition Marquise Brown‘s ensuing foot injury kept Kingsbury from being able to deploy his top two wideouts together for most of the season. More injury trouble slowed Hopkins, and Arizona’s aging offensive line sustained a few hits as well. The Cardinals lost Murray to an ACL tear during a December Monday-night tilt and ended up starting four QBs before season’s end.

The Texans are looking for their third OC in three years. Bill O’Brien staffer Tim Kelly stayed on under David Culley, and the team promoted QBs coach Pep Hamilton to be Lovie Smith‘s OC. Ryans will not be promoting from within, and the next Houston OC may well have a rookie quarterback to mentor.

Kliff Kingsbury Rejecting OC Interviews

Kliff Kingsbury was expected to be a popular name on the offensive coordinator circuit, but it sounds like the former Cardinals head coach has no interest in returning to the NFL at the moment. Per Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com (via Twitter), multiple teams have reached out to Kingsbury about their OC vacancies. However, the coach has told inquiring teams that he “bought a one way ticket to Thailand” and has no interest in interviewing at the moment.

[RELATED: Cardinals Fire HC Kliff Kingsbury]

Following a one-and-done playoff performance — his first postseason appearance in three seasons in Arizona — Kingsbury found himself firmly on the hot seat entering the 2022 campaign. We heard in December that the head coach was feuding with starting QB Kyler Murray, requiring passing game coordinator Cam Turner to serve as a buffer between the two. Kingsbury was also described as “miserable” as he dealt with injuries and a belief that he wasn’t provided the necessary resources to succeed.

Still, when the head coach was ultimately fired by the Cardinals, he was described as “surprised and distraught.” Considering the chaos and the ensuing fallout, it isn’t a huge surprise that Kingsbury will take some time to refresh. His four-year stint as Arizona’s head coach was preceded by a six-year stint as Texas Tech’s head coach.

If Kingsbury wanted to return to coaching, it sounds like he could have landed on his feet relatively quickly. We heard earlier this week that the Patriots had done some homework on Kingsbury, who was drafted by the organization back in 2003. The Patriots revealed earlier this week that they’ll begin offensive coordinator interviews following a 2022 season that saw Matt Patricia and Joe Judge lead the way.

His Thailand comments notwithstanding, Kingsbury could have real financial motivation to get back into the coaching mix as soon as possible. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes, coaching contracts typically include language that requires a fired coach to actively seek alternate employment in order to earn the rest of the money they would have been due under the contract. Assuming Kingsbury’s contract with the Cardinals included similar provisions, then team ownership may have grounds to avoid paying him if he voluntarily (and brazenly) keeps himself off the market.

Coaching Notes: Turner, Colts, Cards, Flores

In addition to the previously reported player gripes about the state of the Commanders‘ offense, John Keim of ESPN.com notes others in the organization expressed frustration about the inconsistencies within the team’s offensive philosophy. Washington fired three-year OC Scott Turner on Tuesday, despite having signed him to a three-year extension, and signs point to the team making a more concerted effort to focus on its run game. Ron Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew expressed a desire to run more, even after the Commanders ranked fourth in rushing attempts (538). But Keim adds a litany of complaints surfaced about the nature of the offense — from the team deviating from effective plays to Turner’s scheme being difficult for quarterbacks to digest. Concern about the offense emanated inside the building throughout the year, per Keim, who adds Rivera sat in on offensive meetings at points amid the unrest.

The Commanders’ issues at quarterback and on their O-line, a unit full of veterans, hamstrung Turner’s unit. So did injuries, as the team planned to have Brian Robinson play a major role from the start. The two gunshot wounds he sustained in August derailed those plans, and Carson Wentz barely ended up playing with the third-round rookie this season. While outside candidates will be interviewed, Keim adds the Commanders generally like their offensive scheme. QBs coach Ken Zampese, a second-generation NFL assistant who was previously the Bengals’ OC, will likely be an in-house candidate.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • The Cardinals fired Kliff Kingsbury after four seasons and did so less than a year after signing him to an extension that ran through 2027. While Kingsbury firing rumors had been brewing for months, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson notes (via Twitter) the young HC did not appear to be expecting it. When a “surprised and distraught” Kingsbury addressed his staffers, he mentioned some of them could be retained. One of them might be DC Vance Joseph, who has been connected to a possible promotion. The former Broncos HC served as Kingsbury’s DC throughout his four-year tenure.
  • One of Frank Reich‘s Colts staffers earned an interview for the team’s HC vacancy. Special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone met with Jim Irsay and Co. about the position Wednesday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Ventrone, 40, broke into coaching after 10 NFL seasons as a player. After spending time on Bill Belichick‘s staff, Ventrone joined Reich’s staff in 2018 and has been in position as Indy’s ST coordinator since. This is his first interview for a head coaching gig. The Colts can interview their own staffers, unattached coaches and Eagles or Chiefs staffers this week but must wait until midway through next week to begin meeting with candidates from teams playing on wild-card weekend.
  • Although Brandon Staley guided the Chargers to the playoffs, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com does not get the sense the second-year HC’s job is 100% safe. A loss to the Jaguars may prompt Chargers ownership to change course. Sean Payton lurking may well affect Staley’s standing, should the Jags prevail. The Bolts job came up several months ago for Payton, who already lives in Los Angeles, and this potential partnership has been a poorly kept secret in NFL circles.
  • Brian Flores will interview for the Browns‘ DC job Thursday, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets, though the Steelers linebackers coach is believed to have other teams interested. Flores’ discrimination lawsuit is ongoing, but the former Dolphins HC just wrapped a season on Mike Tomlin‘s staff. The Browns are also interviewing Jim Schwartz and Sean Desai, with a Jerod Mayo request out there as well.
  • Two more Panthers assistants have left to join Matt Rhule at Nebraska. Rob Dvoracek and Garett McGuire have left the Panthers to become the Cornhuskers’ linebackers and wide receivers coaches, respectively, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Both were in low-level assistant roles with Carolina and each played for Rhule — Dvoracek at Temple, McGuire at Baylor. These exits follow Terrance Knighton‘s; Knighton departed the Panthers in-season.

Patriots Expected To Shake Up Offensive Staff; Latest On Bill O’Brien, Kliff Kingsbury

Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft met this week to discuss the franchise’s outlook, and although rumors of the owner and legendary coach not being on the same page regarding staffing circulated during the season’s final weeks, NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran reports the two are believed to be in step when it comes to the coaching situation.

Patriots staffers have not been informed of any changes yet, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, but Curran adds that Kraft did not need to issue any ultimatums to Belichick to shake up his staff after a strange plan helped produce a disappointing season. Following a season that featured Matt Patricia as the Pats’ primary offensive play-caller, changes will be coming to New England’s offensive staff. Several coaches are under consideration to join the offensive staff, per Curran.

[RELATED: Belichick Confirms Return For 24th Patriots Season]

Bill O’Brien has been linked to a New England return, but Curran tweets the Pats and the current Alabama OC have not been in contact yet. That said, Breer adds O’Brien likely “would love” to return to his home state to aid the Patriots. O’Brien was on Belichick’s staff from 2007-11, finishing that stay as the team’s offensive coordinator during Josh McDaniels‘ three years away. Although O’Brien was not on board as the Crimson Tide’s OC until the 2021 season, Breer mentions Mac Jones helped bring the incoming play-caller up to speed on the program’s offense. Robert and Jonathan Kraft are O’Brien fans as well, per Breer.

Belichick has also done some homework on Kliff Kingsbury, whom he drafted in the 2003 sixth round. The recently fired Cardinals HC spent just more than a year in New England, before being waived, but Breer adds Belichick placed the former Texas Tech QB in a de facto quality control role during a rookie year on IR. That said, Kingsbury may be readier to take a break compared to diving back into a high-pressure situation, Breer and ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss (Twitter link) offer. Tight ends coach Nick Caley came up previously as a potential McDaniels heir apparent, and he earned increased responsibility — in Year 6 coaching the Pats’ tight ends — following McDaniels’ departure.

It does not appear Patricia and Joe Judge will need to be too worried about losing their places on Belichick’s staff. The Patriots are expected to find roles for both of their de facto offensive coordinators, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com adds. Belichick thrusting both ex-head coaches into new roles impacted the Pats’ fortunes this season. The Pats plummeted from sixth to 17th in scoring offense, from 15th to 26th in total yards and from ninth to 24th in DVOA. It should be expected whoever calls Patriots plays in 2023 will have at least done it before.

Cardinals Fire HC Kliff Kingsbury; GM Steve Keim Will Not Return

Another expected move has taken place to add to the league’s number of head coaching vacancies. The Cardinals have fired Kliff Kingsbury, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Ian Rapoport of NFL Network adds that general manager Steve Keim will also not be returning (Twitter link). A team announcement confirms that Keim has stepped away to focus on his health.

The 43-year-old was the subject of increasing speculation during the season that a change would be coming. That, in its own regard, was something of a surprise considering the long-term extensions he and Keim signed this past offseason. However, as the 2022 campaign progressed, signs increasingly pointed to a parting of ways.

Kingsbury established himself as a quarterback guru during his time in college. That span included work with, among others, Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes. Still, eyebrows were raised at the Cardinals’ decision to hire him in 2019 given his overall record of 35-40 at Texas Tech. The move signalled an all-in approach on Arizona’s part with Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray.

From a big-picture perspective, the first three seasons of Kingsbury’s tenure could be categorized as generally successful. The Cardinals showed improvement from 5-10-1 to 8-8 across their first two years with him at the helm, though the latter campaign did not result in a postseason appearance. In 2021, Arizona got off to a hot start, posting a 10-2 record early on in a season where Murray found himself in the MVP conversation. As had been the case the year prior, however, the team nosedived down the stretch and ended up 11-6. The season came to an underwhelming end with a blowout loss in the Wild Card round.

Another playoff appearance was expected given the faith shown by the organization to Keim, Kingsbury and (by virtue of his own monster extension) Murray. Instead, nothing has gone according to plan in the desert, with the team struggling at all times to find consistency on offense. Injuries and suspensions in the receiving corps are partially to blame, of course, but Kingsbury drew increasing criticism for his inability to put together consecutive weeks of good showings on offense or defense.

A rift was reported to be growing between Kingsbury and Murray, something which fueled the fire of this dismissal taking place. Overall, the Cardinals finished the year with a 4-13 record, marking their first regression in the win-loss column during Kingsbury’s time. Murray’s ACL tear certainly hurt the team’s late-season prospects, but his return in 2023 with a new voice on the sidelines and in the front office will not be considered a surprise given everything which has transpired over the course of the past few months.

Indeed, it was reported to be an “open secret” last week that Kingsbury would be on his way out upon the conclusion of the regular season. As for Keim, his departure seemed to be confirmed in December after his decision to take an indefinite leave of absence for health-related reasons. His tenure as GM began in 2013, and included an 80-80-2 record and three playoff appearances.

Both he and Kingsbury will now be on the books as the team looks for their respective replacements. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph was named as a candidate to take on the HC role in the event Kingsbury was let go, despite the team’s struggles on that side of the ball during his time in Arizona. In any event, Kingsbury will head into the 2023 coaching market with uncertain prospects given his inability to close out seasons across the previous two years, as well as the disastrous performance of his team in 2022. Keim’s future is likewise in the air considering his health status and underwhelming track record at the head of the team’s front office.

Cardinals DC Vance Joseph Favored To Replace Kliff Kingsbury?

January 8: Owner Michael Bidwill has not told Kingsbury about his plans one way or another, as Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com report. While Bidwill is doing his homework on coaching candidates, he no longer has Keim as a trusted sounding board, and the NFL.com duo suggest that a Kingsbury firing is not a sure thing. After all, Bidwill will already have to replace Keim, and an accompanying coaching change could be too much turnover, unless he can be sure he is getting an upgrade.

That is to say nothing of the fact that he would have to pay Kingsbury and Keim through at least 2026 while also paying his new coach and GM (previous reports indicated that the recent extensions that Bidwill greenlighted for Kingsbury and Keim ran through 2027, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that Kingsbury’s deal is guaranteed through 2026, with 2027 being an option year).

Rapoport and Pelissero name Sean Payton as a possible candidate to replace Kingsbury, and Florio notes that the Saints are expecting to hear from Arizona about the possibility of acquiring Payton’s rights. New Orleans has already granted the Broncos permission to interview Payton, and those two clubs appear to have trade compensation — which features a first-round draft choice — largely in place.

January 7: With the NFL’s regular season set to come to a close, ‘Black Monday’ has nearly arrived. One move which would, given recent reporting, come as little surprise would be the Cardinals parting ways with head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The 43-year-old signed an extension this past offseason, one in which general manager Steve Keim and quarterback Kyler Murray each inked long-term deals of their own to remain in Arizona. Things have not gone according to plan on the field or in the front office this season, however, to the point where it is something of an “open secret” that Kingsbury will be fired this Monday. Such a decision would reflect the team’s regression in 2022, but also invite questions with respect to his replacement.

On that point, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reports (via Johnny Venerable of the PHNX Cardinals Podcast, on Twitter) that Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is expected to be “a lead candidate, if not the lead candidate” to succeed Kingsbury. Promoting the former would represent a level of internal maneuvering which would run counter to what many feel the organization should be aiming for.

Keim – who is currently away from the team – is also thought to be on his way out of Arizona, a departure which (if coupled with the firing of Kingsbury) would clear the way for a total re-tooling on the sidelines and in the front office, should ownership be inclined to move in that direction. Joseph, on the other hand, would be a familiar face to take on the HC role, as he has served in his current capacity since 2019. The Cardinals’ defense has seen two years of above-average ranks during that span, but the unit has taken a step back this year.

Heading into the final week of games in 2022, Arizona sits 29th in the league in terms of points allowed per game (25.7). The team has struggled in particular against the pass, and has been unable to establish a consistent pass rush during the campaign. In spite of that, Joseph, 50, has reportedly boosted his stock heading into the 2023 coaching cycle. His time in Arizona came after a two-year stretch as the Broncos’ head coach in which the team went 11-21.

That period, in turn, was preceded by one year spent in Miami as a DC in 2016. The Dolphins interviewed Joseph for their head coaching vacancy last offseason, before ultimately hiring Mike McDaniel. It will be worth monitoring how much outside interest he generates for HC (or at least coordinator) openings in the coming days and weeks should he hit the open market at all.

Cardinals Likely To Fire Kliff Kingsbury

Although the NFL expanding to 17 games has an effect here, the Cardinals are likely to match their record for most losses in a season. The 4-12 team faces the 49ers in Week 18; another loss would match Arizona’s 2018 and 2000 seasons (13). It does not look like Kliff Kingsbury will survive such a result.

The Cardinals are expected to dismiss Kingsbury at season’s end, Armando Salguero of Outkick.com reports, noting that such a transaction is “kind of an open secret” by now. This move would come months after Kingsbury signed an extension that runs through 2027. With Steve Keim also rumored to be on the outs months after his extension, this would represent a remarkable course change for the Cardinals.

Kingsbury, 43, took over the Cards after their Steve Wilks-led 3-13 season and made a successful push for Kyler Murray at No. 1 overall. The Cardinals became the first team since the 1982-83 Baltimore Colts to take first-round quarterbacks in back-to-back years. While the Cards were proven right to reinvest via the Murray pick and move on from Josh Rosen, this season marked a significant step back for the dual-threat talent. Murray fell off the Pro Bowl tier and is now rehabbing a torn ACL. Prior to the injury, he and Kingsbury were not believed to be on good terms.

A recent report indicated Kingsbury resigning was possible, but that seemed the less likely conclusion compared to a firing. A resignation would prevent Kingsbury (28-36-1) from cashing in on the extension money he is entitled to by virtue of the deal he inked in March. Little has gone right since the Cards reupped their HC-GM combo, however.

The Cardinals maneuvered through messy Murray situations — the pre-draft extension demand and the fallout from the homework clause included in the five-year, $230.5MM deal — and a report indicated Kingsbury has been “extremely frustrated” with the quarterback he has known since the latter’s high school days. Murray’s deal ties him to the Cards through 2028, which always made him most likely to be the last one standing despite Kingsbury and Keim’s extensions.

Arizona entered the season unable to deploy its newly assembled DeAndre HopkinsMarquise Brown tandem, due to Hopkins’ six-game PED ban, and Kingsbury then could not use the wideouts together upon the All-Pro’s return because of Brown’s foot injury. It took until Week 12 for the talented pair to see the field together. By that point, the Cardinals were 4-7. Although J.J. Watt has rebounded from another injury-plagued season to record 10.5 sacks in his final NFL campaign, Kingsbury’s team ran into health issues along its aging offensive line and at tight end. Zach Ertz was lost for the season with ACL and MCL tears in Week 10. Murray, who missed two games with a hamstring injury as well, has been out since Week 14 because of his ACL tear.

Kingsbury’s fourth Cards offense ranks 21st in both scoring and yardage — down considerably from the team’s playoff offense last season — and Vance Joseph‘s defense ranks outside the top 20 in points and yards as well. Should this firing commence, it will spell another setback for college coaches hoping to establish themselves at the sport’s highest level. Matt Rhule, Chip Kelly, Greg Schiano and Nick Saban are among the latest who failed to carry their success to the NFL. In Kingsbury’s case, he made the strange leap from being fired at Texas Tech in 2018 to joining the Cards — shortly after he signed on to be USC’s OC. If Michael Bidwill follows through on a firing, it can be safely assumed the owner will select his next coach from the NFL level.

Latest On Kliff Kingsbury’s Future With Cardinals

The Cardinals are about to miss the playoffs for the third time in four seasons under Kliff Kingsbury, leading to natural questions about the head coach’s future in Arizona. Multiple team sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Josh Weinfuss that they could see a path where owner Michael Bidwill will give his head coach another year at the helm, “due in part to injuries ravaging the roster and a personnel department in flux.”

On the flip side, Fowler and Weinfuss detail an increasingly ugly situation in the locker room, especially between Kingsbury and star quarterback Kyler Murray. While the QB was recently lost for the season with a torn ACL, the relationship between the duo had “grown increasingly distant” throughout the 2022 campaign, with Kingsbury described as “extremely frustrated” with his signal caller. In particular, the HC was wary of Murray’s “negativity” and his ability to influence others in the building.

The Murray-Kingsbury dynamic dates back a decade when the coach tried to recruit the QB out of high school. However, the two have gone periods this season without interaction, with one source saying the relationship seems “particularly bad this year.” As a result, passing game coordinator Cam Turner was forced to serve as a buffer between the two prior to Murray’s injury.

While sources say the relationship between Kingsbury and Bidwill hasn’t been without tension, the owner still may be willing to give his head coach the benefit of the doubt. Sources said Kingsbury hasn’t necessarily been given the resources to succeed, and the constant offensive injuries has left the head coach “miserable” since he can’t run his preferred system.

“He knows that it’s not a situation that lends itself to him being happy and successful and at his best for that organization, which he wants to be,” a source said. “They won’t let him. They won’t let him be great.”

A source told ESPN that Kingsbury wanted to fire offensive line coach/run game coordinator Sean Kugler long before he was dismissed for an incident in Mexico City. While the coach had already “lost opportunities to contribute to offensive planning,” it was believed that Bidwill didn’t want to fire Kugler and eat his contract, with Kingsbury supporters pointing to this anecdote as proof of the coach’s limited control in Arizona.

On the flip side, while the owner still meets with the head coach before and after games, the organization generally holds Kingsbury responsible for the W/L record. Ultimately, the Cardinals are 28-34-1 in Kingsbury’s three-plus seasons with the organization, with only a single playoff loss to show for their efforts. Kingsbury still has five years left on his contract, and the organization inked Murray to a $230MM extension prior to the 2022 campaign.