When he was the coach of Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury said that he would take Kyler Murray No. 1 overall if he had the chance. That comment became reality when Kingsbury was hired to be the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. They held the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and took the dual-threat out of Oklahoma. Just like that, the next air raid offense was formed.
It turns out that the air raid did not turn out as expected. Arizona scored 22.6 points per game which was 17th in the league. They ranked 21st in total offense and 24th in passing yards per game. The Cardinals did not have a 1,000-yard receiver on the team. Once the Cardinals traded for Kenyan Drake, they became a running team and did it effectively.
Kingsbury led the Cardinals to a 5-10-1 record in his first season as head coach. This was a two-game improvement from 2018 where they finished 3-13 in the NFC West. Kingsbury is viewed as one of the new age offensive coaches along with Sean McVay and Matt LaFleur. Let’s take a look at how Kingsbury’s first year on the sidelines went.
Kingsbury’s Year One Grade
Kingsbury showed what kind of coach he is going to be. He was criticized early on in the season because of his play calling. The Cardinals were expected to be an explosive offense and he tried to force the issue at times. On the other hand, he showed that he is not afraid to take chances.
You have to be fair when looking at this Cardinal team. They were working with a rookie quarterback and not many other weapons around him. Arizona improved two games from a terrible 2018 where they seemed to be out of every game. Yes, they lost 10 games in 2019 but the Cardinals competed almost every week. There were a few games on their schedule that could have ended in wins. For example, the Week 1 tie against the Detroit Lions.
Overall, Murray had a strong rookie season. Players spoke out in favor of Kingsbury’s system. He made adjustments to what works on the field and that was running the football while giving Murray some easy throws. The team won just five games but Arizona should feel good about what they have at important positions within the organization. This grade could be curved a little bit but Kingsbury earned every bit of it.
Kingsbury’s First Year Grade: B-