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Kliff Kingsbury Stays 'In The Present' As Cardinals Try To Fix Season

Coach appreciates job even as spotlight gets brighter

Kliff Kingsbury calls a play earlier this season.
Kliff Kingsbury calls a play earlier this season.

Why, Kliff Kingsbury was asked, would he or anyone want to become an NFL head coach when it's the kind of job someone is hired to be fired?

"I feel like one of those LIV golfers right now," the Cardinals coach joked, referencing the golfers who bailed on the PGA Tour because of the huge payday.

No one is going to argue an NFL coach is paid handsomely, but Kingsbury did get serious about why he wanted to reach the NFL.

"When you are in the profession, it's the highest level you can be at," Kingsbury said. "For me to come to work with guys who have spent their entire lives trying to get here, working to get here, they are highly motivated every single day, that's a special environment. That's something that wakes you up in the morning and you're inspired to be around these guys.

"I've coached at the college level, an incredible experience, build amazing relationships, you get to mentor those kids. But there is no poking and prodding here. There is no trying to make them gain weight, wake them up in the morning. These guys are the cream of the crop and being around that every day I think pushes you to a better version of yourself."

Kingsbury has fielded the questions about his job status well; his self-awareness has always been strong. That people are speculating, whether it be about his future or his role calling plays, Kingsbury absorbs it as part of the job.

He said he got heated in a recent message to the team but isn't going to stay with that much emotion – "I pick my spots," he said – and has tried to "stay in the present."

That the Cardinals are 3-6 bothers him, but the first nine games can't be changed.

"As competitors you don't want is to underachieve for an entire season," he said. "That's where we have been and it's time to get over it."

Quarterback Kyler Murray said it's not Kingsbury's style to go fire and brimstone – "He's played, so he understands. He's dealt with it" – and said whatever is swirling around the coach and the team has to be blocked out.

"There is lots of chatter about all of us I'm sure," Murray said. "I don't think he sees it. I don't really see it. You try to stay away from all the negativity and stuff like that. This has been a negative kind of season so far compared to last year. When you set that expectation and you played well (in 2021), everyone is going to expect that."

Kingsbury said his dealings with owner Michael Bidwill and GM Steve Keim have remained open and similar to what they always have been. The coach did say he and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph watch game video with Bidwill each week to show what is trying to be accomplished on the field.

Bidwill and Keim have been "supportive."

"They understand it's a tough business," Kingsbury said. "We talk through things and have great communication. I understand they have a job to do as well."

The spotlight is going to remain on Kingsbury, and barring a winning streak, the speculation will continue. He knows that.

But he'll coach the way he thinks he needs to coach, and see what that means in the standings.

"I think he's fine," Murray said about how Kingsbury has handled the rough patch. "I haven't seen anything. He's fed up with losing as all of us are. At the same time, we have to keep going. The season is not over."