Tucson, Arizona — Ten months after giving Kliff Kingsbury a contract extension through the 2027 season, the Arizona Cardinals sacked the head coach.
The general manager of the team, Steve Keim, also made a decision to “walk aside from his job in order to focus on his health,” according to the organization’s announcement.
Keim signed a contract extension in 2022 that extended his deal until the 2027 season, similar to Kingsbury. Keim, however, has been absent from work since the middle of December due to health reasons.
After spending several years in the personnel department, Keim joined the Cardinals in 1999 as a college scout. In 2013, he was elevated to general manager.
Ran Carthon, the San Francisco 49ers’ director of pro personnel, and Adam Peters, the 49ers’ assistant general manager, received requests for GM interviews from the Arizona Cardinals and the Tennessee Titans, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Just two months after being fired at Texas Tech, Kingsbury was hired in January 2019 to revive a young offence and an ailing club.
His dismissal comes a day after the Cardinals’ 4-13 season was concluded by their 38-13 loss to the 49ers in the season finale. Kingsbury has a 28-37-1 record during his time with the Cardinals.
He had a mediocre amount of success, improving Arizona’s win totals in each of his first three seasons (from 5-10-1 in 2019 to 8-8 in 2020, and then to 11-6 in 2021, when the Cards made the playoffs). However, late-season lapses, underperformance, and four years of errant play ruined Kingsbury’s time with the Cardinals.
The outcomes from this past season served as its zenith.
Kingsbury was relieved of his duties as the Cardinals searched for their third head coach in the last six years, despite having to coach a team without DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games, Kyler Murray for the last five, tight end Zach Ertz for the last seven, and four of the five starting offensive linemen for stretches this season. The Cardinals have been around for more than a century, yet no head coach has ever held the position for more than six years.
Whatever success the Cardinals had developed under Kingsbury was obscured by back-to-back late-season disasters in 2020 and 2021, but it was also a trend. Kingsbury’s teams have a history of early-season success dating back to his time at Texas Tech, followed by a decreasing tendency in the second half of the season.
Kingsbury’s teams have a record of 17-44 after their first seven games and 42-20-1 overall through 2021. Even though this season’s start wasn’t as strong, things still went south in the final stretch. Arizona started off the season 3-4 before stumbling to a 1-9 slump.
Kingsbury thought this season would be the opposite of the previous one. The Cardinals would ideally finish strong despite a sluggish start caused, in part, by Hopkins’ absence for the first six games due to his suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug rules, as he frequently stated early in the season.
Arizona likewise had trouble winning at home, suffering six consecutive defeats at the conclusion of 2021 and the start of 2022.
The failure of Kingsbury’s plan to adjust was a recurring problem.
The Cardinals’ offence, Murray claimed following a Week 6 loss to the Seahawks, was being “methodically moved the ball” by opposing defenses.