It was less than a year ago — in March 2022 — that the Arizona Cardinals gave their head coach a multi-year contract extension that would have kept him at the top of the coaching staff through 2027. So then why was Kliff Kingsbury fired from the Cards on Monday, Jan. 9?
The Cardinals announced the shake-up on Twitter on Monday, saying Kliff had been “relieved of his duties.” And at a press conference that same day, Cardinals owner Mike Bidwill said it's “the hardest day in the football life ... when you’ve gotta part ways with people that you respect and appreciate all their contributions.”
Why was Kliff Kingsbury fired?
According to Bidwill, Kingsbury’s firing came down to “performance on the field.” As USA Today reports, Kingsbury joined the Cardinals in January 2019 and increased the NFL team’s win total each season for three years, logging an 11-6 record in 2021, when the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
But 2022 proved costly for the Cardinals. The team ended the season with a 4-13 record and didn’t qualify for the playoffs. In addition, star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins received a six-game NFL suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, and a knee injury benched quarterback Kyler Murray.
“I think he put in maximum effort,” Bidwill said of Kingsbury, who came to the Cardinals after coaching Texas Tech for six seasons. “There were just a lot of bad breaks this year, and I think we got to the point to where it was just time for a change.”
Bidwill also hailed Kingsbury as a “great man” whom he has “really grown to like and appreciate.”
“I’ve been around this organization my entire life, and I don’t know any coach that has worked harder than Kliff Kingsbury. He has put in countless hours,” the team owner added. “We had a good long conversation today, in which I told him I’m really sorry, because this is a tough decision. … I wish it could have worked out better for him. Because in terms of putting in the effort, there’s a guy that really deserved to have the outcome that we were all expecting a year ago or so.”
General manager Steve Keim is also leaving the team.
The Cardinals also announced on Monday that Steve Keim was stepping down as the team’s general manager to focus on his health. Keim stepped away on an indefinite leave of absence for health reasons in December 2022, and now that leave has become permanent.
Keim, a former free agent with the Miami Dolphins, became GM in 2013 after 14 seasons with the Cardinals’ personal department, and he was named the Sporting News 2014 NFL Executive of the Year, according to his team profile.
“[Keim] has been with us for 25 years … he has left the organization and is gonna focus on his health, and I want to thank Steve for his contributions and wish him well,” Bidwill said at Monday’s press conference.