The Arizona Cardinals made waves across the NFL Monday morning, firing head coach Kliff Kingsbury after four seasons.
Kingsbury went 28-37-1, with a 4-13 record in 2022 ultimately spelling the end of his run in the Valley. Just a year before, the Cardinals were the darlings of AZ sportsbooks while making a run to the playoffs.
Arizona is now on the lookout for the club’s seventh head coach since 2000, with Kingsbury’s successor looking to get the franchise its first playoff win in seven years.
BetArizona.com stacked up Kingsbury’s tenure in Arizona to see how his run compares to those that came before him, while also crunching the odds on who might succeed him next season.
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Who Replaces Kingsbury in Arizona?
Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill has plenty of options to choose from when it comes to Kingsbury’s replacement, including several that have ties to the team’s last head coach.
Chief among those semi-internal candidates is former NFL quarterback and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.
Leftwich worked his way up the NFL’s coaching ranks under Bruce Arians in Arizona and Tampa Bay, going from a coaching intern in 2016 to the Cardinals’ quarterbacks coach and interim offensive coordinator between 2017 and 2018.
He’s emerged as one of the NFL’s brightest young minds, leading Tampa Bay’s offensive resurgence (alongside Tom Brady) since arriving in 2019.
Tampa Bay went from having the 12th-ranked scoring offense in the NFL in Dirk Koetter’s final season in 2018 to a top-five unit each year from 2019 to 2021.
Eric Bieniemy has been a hot name on the NFL coaching circuit since taking over as the Kansas City offensive coordinator in 2018.
Under his watch, the Chiefs have ranked in the NFL’s top-five in points scored and total yards gained in all but one season, while quarterback Patrick Mahomes has emerged as one of the league’s shining stars.
The longtime Chiefs assistant should be a hot candidate for any of the NFL’s openings this offseason, just like Leftwich and others on this list.
Among the candidates currently out of the league that could emerge as a contender is former Saints coach Sean Payton.
Payton stepped away from football after coaching the Saints to a Super Bowl championship and nine playoff appearances between 2006 and 2021 but could be a name to watch in the offseason.
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Outside Names to Watch For Cardinals Job
The NFL coaching carousel always churns out some surprises, like the Cardinals’ choice of Kingsbury over a host of NFL candidates in 2019.
That’s why Bidwill and company could decide to go with an under-the-radar assistant, such as Arizona’s current defensive coordinator and former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph or Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
Joseph went 11-21 with the Broncos between 2017 and 2018 but led Arizona to top-10 rankings in a number of defensive categories during 2021.
Moore has led the Cowboys to top-10 rankings in points per game, rushing yards per game, and passing touchdowns during his two-year run.
Moore is another name, like Leftwich and Bieniemy, that’s been mentioned for several NFL openings in the past.
University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh appears to be the most likely candidate to jump from college to the NFL this offseason, given his interest in the Vikings opening last offseason and the NCAA’s current investigation of the program.
Long shot candidates for the Cardinals vacancy include Arians — who retired from coaching last year — 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen.
Cardinals Longest Tenured Head Coaches
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Kingsbury’s Tenure Ends in a Whimper After Promising Start
Arizona’s decision to hire Kingsbury was a surprise, given his lack of NFL coaching experience, his “Air Raid” pedigree and his failed stint as head coach at his college alma mater, Texas Tech.
He was able to improve Arizona’s year-end win total in each of his first three seasons, taking the Cardinals from 5-10-1 in 2019 to 11-6 in 2021.
Ultimately, Kingsbury’s momentum ended with the Cardinals’ 34-11 Wild Card loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion L.A. Rams.
Kingsbury wound up with the eighth-longest tenure (66 games) of any Cardinals coach, while his .432 winning percentage was the seventh highest in franchise history.
Arians has the franchise’s highest winning percentage at .619, while Don Coryell (.607), Charley Winner (.538), and Jimmy Conzelman (.523) are the only other Cardinals coaches that finished above .500.