PHOENIX – Despite the lack of organized team activities and the general uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury believes familiarity among players and staff will help the team kick it into gear once football resumes.
With the sports world on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone in the NFL is adjusting.
“For us, being in year two goes a long way,” Kingsbury said in a recent Zoom meeting with the media. “We have a lot of continuity with the staff and players coming back and keeping our schemes in place. You’d love to get your hands on (players) but every team would.
“There’s nothing like being on the grass but everyone’s dealing with it. The teams that can adapt and adjust will be able to have the most success early in the season.”
The start of a new era in Arizona Cardinals football was put in place last offseason when the organization hired Kingsbury as coach and drafted quarterback Kyler Murray to be the face of the franchise.
If the drastic changes took place this offseason, there would be a lot more questions and plans to iron out without a timetable for when the team would converge.
There are some alterations coming within the Cardinals. They added star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive end Jordan Phillips. Plus the virtual NFL draft is quickly approaching (April 23) where Kingsbury’s arsenal will get a few new tools. With the offseason additions made, he feels comfortable that the Cardinals will take the “best available” player.
But the core with Murray, future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and 2019 All-Pro edge rusher Chandler Jones is intact, and there has not been much coaching turnover.
“Not having an offseason or OTAs, (it’s important) to have guys coming back who have a year in the system, they know the system and they know the culture, what we’re trying to be about,” Kingsbury said.
So, what are the Cardinals able to do while everyone’s separated?
According to Kingsbury, a lot of studying.
From the scouts and coaches looking at prospect tapes ahead of the draft to Murray learning from his rookie year, the emphasis on this offseason appears to be film and study. And when people are supposed to be isolated, that’s a very safe assignment.
Kingsbury noted that during this time of year, most of the work is watching film anyway, so not much about his job has changed significantly so far. He even wakes up and tries to finish his day’s work at the same times he would normally so that he does not alter his routine.
He mentioned that there are challenges in facing the draft process while everyone is stuck where they are, but they can be overcome. Having to rely a lot more on film and communicate more on video calls are adjustments, but Kingsbury said they are nothing compared to what others are going through during this time.
That’s why the Arizona coach’s primary message to his team during this pandemic is not football related.
“People are risking their lives every day and we are sitting back and waiting,” Kingsbury said. “We all feel very blessed that we have people out there looking out for us and I think the biggest message is to keep things in perspective at this time.”