Arizona Cardinals fire Kliff Kingsbury as head coach; GM Steve Keim steps away

Kliff Kingsbury compiled a 28-37-1 record in four seasons as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. (File photo by Tyler Rittenhouse/Cronkite News)

Sunday marked the four-year anniversary of Kliff Kingsbury’s hiring by the Arizona Cardinals. “It’s time to rise up,” the former coach said in January 2019. (File photo by Andre Simms/Cronkite News)

TEMPE – Just 10 months after inking a lengthy contract extension, the Kliff Kingsbury era in the Valley has officially come to an end.

The elements of a worthwhile story require conflict, plot and resolution. After a multitude of events that defined an irksome and discombobulated season – which the Arizona Cardinals (4-13) fittingly wrapped up with a 38-13 loss Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers – the first dominos in what is widely expected to be an intriguing offseason have finally fallen.

The Cardinals announced Monday that the franchise parted ways with Kingsbury. In addition, general manager Steve Keim has “stepped away from his position in order to focus on his health.”

Coming off an 11-6 record in 2021, not to mention an imposing 8-1 away mark, the current organizational brass finds itself in a transitional period as the search begins for the next leader(s) of the franchise.

Cardinals chairman and president Michael Bidwill will lead the charge when it comes to searching for the right voice, and one message has become clearer as the season came to a close: the franchise’s current organizational strategy has run its course.

“When you look at the totality of the season, there were a lot of things, whether it was suspension, injuries, or some of the other things that occur. I think the number one thing is we need to really make sure that we’re getting the most out of those players,” said Bidwill, who has been with the organization since 1996. “I’ve been speaking to some of our leaders, and we want to make sure that we got the culture of our organization really focused on maximum effort and making sure we do everything we can do to win the NFC West.”

Winning the NFC West next season will be no easy task. The team also must figure out how to transition into a new GM-coaching era with a young quarterback who is coming off a devastating season-ending injury.

Kyler Murray was moved to the injured reserve after tearing his ACL against the New England Patriots on Dec. 12, but that isn’t stopping Bidwill from including the former Oklahoma Sooner in their upcoming conversations with potential candidates for both vacancies.

“Right now he’s obviously recovering from surgery and will be rehabbing in the offseason, but I think the big thing is he remains a dual threat, (an) incredibly explosive player, and he’s going to recover from this injury, and we’re gonna have a great player come back next year,” Bidwill said about the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback. “I feel like we can have a quick turnaround, and we’ve got to get the right head coach, and the right general manager in here.”

Now that a multitude of NFL teams have started the search for a new head coach, speculation over available candidates is heating up.

A few names that stand out among the upcoming pool of candidates include Sean Payton of the Saints, DeMeco Ryans of the San Francisco 49ers and Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines. Bidwill told reporters Monday that he has interviewed candidates currently employed by the organization.

The elaborate process of restoring a winning brand of football is underway. And yes, time is of the essence with an increased level of urgency within the franchise.

“I look forward to our next head coach having a lot of success with us for a long, long time, bringing in winning teams this community can all be proud of,” Bidwill said.

Sam Stern sam stern
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Sam Stern expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. Stern has interned with Sports360az and Take it Easley Productions, and he is an editorial intern at the Phoenix Business Journal.