Focus Shifts to Coaching Assistants - Tues. Jan. 15 -With the naming of former Texas Tech Head Coach, Klif Kingsbury, attention shifts to the naming of a staff and teaching/development of players. (You needn't watch more than a few plays in any game the Cardinals played last season than to know that play calling had no tempo, execution of those plays looked discombobulated and techniques were seldom executed with much consistently. When searching for causes, the finger always seemed to fall on fundamentals and the teaching thereof.
This is what we know so far:
Offensive Coordinator - Unfilled (2 contenders: John DeFillipo and former Giant OC)
Offensive Line - Sean Kugler / Assistant Offensive Line Coach -= Brian Natkin
Running Backs - (Unfilled - Leading candidate - James Sexton)
Wide Receivers - David Raih
Tight Ends - Steve Heiden
Defensive Coordinator - Vance Joseph
Defensive Line - Unfilled)
Linebackers - Bill Davis
Defensive Backs - Unfilled)
Special Teams Coordinator - Jeff Rodgers
It was rumored that Stump Mitchell would be hired as RB coach (following other unconfirmed rumors that James Sexton - credited with development of a world class Steeler running attack - would joinng the Cardinals to coach RBs).
The hiring of Kugler is considered to be the key to turning around what was considered by many to be feeble offensive line play and Joseph (who was a former Denver HC) has impressive creds as well - he is expected to oversee transition back to the 3-4 (after a disasterous attempt to move the Card defensie to the 4-3.
Major remaining coaching issue - "Who'll be the OC? (No doubt I'll be proved wrong, but I'd expect Kingsbury to take on the role of "super OC" with the actual OC supporting KK in the offensive game with eyes, ears and experience. Power on!
Cards Hire Offensive Innovator New HC - Wed. Jan. 9 - It's official. The Cardinals named former Texas Tech Head Coach, Klif Kingsbury, their new Head Coach. Kingsbury, who hasn't quite reached 40 years of age, is known for being an offensive innovator and disciple of the Air Raid offense. (One of the most notable characteristics of the recent collapse in Cardinal fortunes had been the deterioration of Bruce Arian's "no risk-it, biscuit" offense to what was, according to most fans, a lethargic, passive approach to offensive football.
Kingsbury's move was not without controversy - after being released by Texas Tech after 4-seasons with a sub-500 (35-40) record, he recently accepted an OC position with USC, but took advantage of an attractive buy-out provision in his contract a short time later to make the move to Arizona.
The only Assistant Coach said to be moving to the Desert with Kingsbury thus far is former Bowling Green HC and USC RB Coach Mike Jinks. A number of other likely assistant signees were snapped up by Arians (who decided to return to coaching as HC of the Tampa Bay Bucs). Former Jet HC / Card DC Todd Bowles and former Cardinal OC Byron Leftwich are joining BA in Tampa.
The Mike Leach Air Raid offense is said to involve nearly all the snaps coming from shotgun, trips alignment and empty sets with 4 receivers (1 slot/1 wide on either side) and getting the ball into receivers' hands "in space" and "on the move" as much as possible. There are more Kingsbury wrinkles than my brain can absorb - quad alignments, wide-bunched sets, slot WR's covered up by outside receivers at the LOS, 4 verticals and stick, slant-flat, follow, mesh and smash concepts,
Kingsbury believes in getting his best athletes the ball in space as quickly as possible. The key to these plays working is a quick release from the quarterback, as well as accuracy to hit the receivers with ball placement that allows for forward momentum.
The most impressive thing about Kingsbury’s adaptations is how he is able to adjust his play-calling around his own and opposing personnel. His offense looked different from Case Keenum to Johnny Manziel to Patrick Mahomes to Davis Webb. Additionally, there were instances of attacking weak spots of the defense on a weekly basis.
Reaction by Cardinal Nation has been mixed - many members of "the great unwashed" apparently feel they know more about hiring head coaches than the owners and professionals who do this for a living. (No problem with fans speaking their mind; it's the "certainty of opinion" that bugs me - Football is a people occupation and when you are dealing with human beings, nothing is "for-certain").
(Note - Lost in all the X's and O's talk is Kingsbury's youthful age (not quite 40). Latest League trend is toward hiring Millenial/New Age disciples (see: Pete Carroll in Seattle or Gruden and Mayock in Oakland). Keep an eye on innovations involving leadership approaches and team culture when following the Cardinals).
Wilks an Ex-Cardinal - Wed. Jan. 2 -- As expected, the Cardinals gave HC Steve Wilks and his staff their walking papers shortly after Janikowski's FG attempt split the uprights with 0:00 on the clock to clip the Cards by 3.
Seldom do teams hire a HC in Year One only to fire them in Year 2, but the Cardinal play over the past season was abysmal under Wilk's oversight. Cards apparently have decided to keep GM Steve Keim despite heavy fan criticism of Steve's behavior (DUI infraction) and performance (for some unexplained reason - all at once the wheels all came off what seemed to be a perfectly good Cardina roster. Cards wound up winning the "We're #32!" race for Top 2019 Draft Spot.
Names atop the list of possible head coaching replacements for roughly 8 openings throughout the NFL: Dan Campbell (NO Asst HC), Zac Taylor (Rams QB Coach), Eric Bienemy (KC OC), Adam Gase, Kliff Kingsbury (QBC), Josh McDaniels (NE OC), Pete Carmichael (NO OC), Jim Caldwell (Ex HC GB), Mike McCarthy (Ex HC GB, Chuck Pagano (Ind Ex HC). No doubt there will be additional candidates and the list will expand.
Just one writer's opinion: I'd like us to sign a creative, aggressive and courageous offensive play caller who will fill out his staff with assistants who have pretty much "seen it all" (and no how to handle adverse conditions. (What Wilks seemed to lack was a plan for fixing what was broke and turning what Steve Keim gave him into effective offensive and defensive units).
The way things look, expect "breaking news" on probably a daily basis (When you get first-dibs on the waiver wire, you tend to be super-active churning the bottom of your active roster).
Note - 8 players were signed to Futures contracts: Charles Kanoff QB; Dietrick Nichols CB, Justin Evans OL , Will House OT, Jonathan Moxey CB, Pete Robertson LB, Coleman Shelton OL, Brandon Wilds RB