Cardinals Urged to Hire Former Divisional Rival Head Coach

Michael Bidwill

Getty Images Michael Bidwill looks on prior to the game against the Colts on December 25, 2021.

It doesn’t seem like the noise from fans and analysts will stop when it comes to criticizing Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

In Kyler Murray’s first playoff game — 34-11 NFC Wild Card blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams — he posted a passer rating of 40.9, which was the worst of his career. The offensive game plan lacked a sense of urgency and never seemed to be on the same page against the ferocious L.A. defensive line.

The duo of Kingsbury and Murray finished their third season with the team and have made a steady increase in wins in each season: Five in 2019, nine in 2020 and 11 in 2021.

But Kingsbury is getting a lot of grief as his teams have historically fallen short in the second half in college and the pros dating back to 2013.

While the Cardinals reached their first postseason appearance since 2015, the team started 7-0 and had higher aspirations.

It’s unrealistic to think the Cardinals will fire Kingsbury after getting the Cardinals to the playoffs. Kingsbury has one year left on his contract and no matter what the fanbase thinks, general manager Steve Keim has a glowing review for the head coach.

“In my opinion, not only has Kliff Kingsbury done a phenomenal job, I think he’s the Coach of the Year,” Keim said on January 7.

But that won’t stop a radio personality from suggesting a hot name to the desert.

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Radio Host Calls for Splash Hire

Jody Oehler, the host of the “The Drive” on Fox Sports 910 Phoenix, wrote an article titled “The Man Who Can Save the Cardinals.

Oehler lacks faith in Kingsbury and wants a significant change made at the coaching helm. He thinks the team needs to hire college coach Jim Harbaugh.

Here’s what he had to say:

The Cardinals need to urgently act to change the trajectory of Kyler’s career before too many bad habits or bad moments transform what is still undoubtedly the potential for him to be a great QB. They can’t afford to wait another year because its what’s fair for Kliff Kingsbury. They need to take action now before the Raiders outflank them and hire Harbaugh. Would you want to coach Kyler Murray or Derek Carr?

Don’t you think Harbaugh would be chomping at the bit to coach again in the NFC West against the 49ers twice a year?

Harbaugh comes with his own baggage. He’s often described as difficult. His track record at Michigan isn’t spectacular. But he also built a juggernaut in San Francisco and played in three NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl. He transformed Colin Kaepernick into a breathtaking playmaker, something no other coach was ever able to duplicate.

Harbaugh has been the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines since 2015 and has posted a 61-24 record. Despite underachieving for the most part in his tenure, Harbaugh defeated Ohio State for the first time in 2021 and won the Big Ten Championship.

While Harbaugh signed a four-year contract extension through the 2025 season at the beginning of 2021, there has been noise about him returning to the NFL.

The former NFL quarterback coached the 49ers from 2011 to 2014 and posted a .695 winning percentage, which is the fifth-best all-time for a head coach in NFL history. He brought the team to three straight NFC Championship games including a Super Bowl appearance in 2012. His tenure ended abruptly after rumors he was demanding more control.

The Cardinals have no plans as of yet to fire Kingsbury. But Harbaugh uplifted a 49ers team that hadn’t had a winning season or a playoff appearance since 2002.

If Arizona were to be interested in Harbaugh, they wouldn’t be the only organization with the same thought process.

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Harbaugh NFL Noise

The Bears and Raiders have been rumored as options for Harbaugh, who have vacant positions as head coach. Bears insider Hub Arkus spoke about Harbaugh’s potential decision on NBC Sports’ “The Rush.”

“I don’t think Jim knows,” Arkush said. “I’ve had a little bit of communication with him, and we’ve talked about what makes the most sense, what’s best.”

But Arkush did acknowledge that the Bears touched base with Harbaugh.

“I’ve had some contact with Jim,” Arkush said. “I didn’t ask him and he didn’t tell me. But one other source who is usually pretty good told me that there was just a brief phone conversation.”

It all depends on Harbaugh, but this could end up being more leverage for the 58-year-old as he’s reportedly discussing a new contract with Michigan following a terrific season with the Wolverines.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter thinks Harbaugh will stay in college.

“Look, Jim Harbaugh is a tough guy to predict,” Schefter said on Mad Dog Sports Radio with Adam Schein. “And I don’t like absolutes at this time of the year because things change on a moment’s notice. But if you’re asking my opinion today … I would say he’s more likely than not to stay. Unless he gets an offer from an NFL team he can’t refuse. Now, is there going to be an NFL team out there that comes at him so hard with so much money with such a good situation? That they’re going to make it such that he can say no, and that could happen?”

But who knows? According to College Football insider Bruce Feldman, sources inside Michigan football believe Harbaugh would take the Raiders job if offered.

NBC’s Mike Florio even added the Cardinals as a possibility for Harbaugh, who has familiarity with the NFC West.

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