The Arizona Cardinals have come a long way since Steve Wilks last walked off the field as the leader of men at State Farm Stadium.
Since his departure, Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray have helped inject new life in Arizona, slowly but surely climbing their way to a postseason appearance just years removed from picking back-to-back quarterbacks in the top ten of the NFL draft.
Both were handsomely rewarded with extensions prior to the start of the season, but the duo have yet to hold their end of the bargain: The Cardinals (4-8) are essentially out of the playoff picture barring a miracle turnaround for their final five games of the season.
Of course a wild array of factors have played into their current situation, but blame starts at the top and trickles down. With talent littered across the depth chart, coaching will (and should) be under the microscope.
Dating back to their bye week last season, the Cardinals are 6-12 without including the postseason loss to Los Angeles. Arizona is just 3-7 in one possession games during that time period.
2020 saw the Cardinals finish their schedule 3-9, losing their final two games to officially put them out of the playoff hunt. 2021 saw Arizona finish 4-6 after losing their final four-of-five games to finish the regular season.
As it stands, Arizona has lost their last four-of-five games. They've yet to win consecutive games this season, and should that continue until the final week of the season, it would be the first time since 2018 the Cardinals managed to do that.
Steve Wilks, just one season into the job, was relieved of his duties afterwards. Could Kingsbury see a similar fate just one year after seeing his contract extension?
This isn't a hit piece on Kingsbury - nor is it a stake for his job to be saved. Later this week, we'll outline the pros and cons of letting Kingsbury walk.
Arizona isn't officially out of the playoff picture just yet, as FiveThirtyEight has the Cardinals at 1% to make the postseason. Perhaps Mr. Bidwill is waiting until things are official to see Kingsbury out.
Yet if the Cardinals were leaning towards firing him, the bye week presents the perfect opportunity.
Two teams have already gotten a jump start on their head coaching search, as the Panthers and Colts have departed from their initial guys for greener pastures. Jeff Saturday and Steve Wilks are unlikely to shed the interim tag and slide into a full-time role.
Those two teams have already gotten a jump on their head coaching search, and although it's unlikely we see ten new teams in the market similar to last offseason, other job openings will ensue.
Should the Cardinals move on from Kingsbury this week, it would afford them the opportunity to do a few things:
1. See if likely interim head coach Vance Joseph can rescue this mess- Joseph would have to greatly impress on all levels to keep the job permanently, but the Cardinals could at least see what the former Broncos head coach has left in the tank. Joseph interviewed for Miami's opening last offseason.
2. See how the players respond- Often times, coaches are released after their message is simply stagnant. Budda Baker had an interesting quote after the loss to the Chargers by saying the NFL is "Not For Long" with some obvious frustration attached. Perhaps a new fire would be lit in the locker room.
3. Get a head start on the future- Wipe the slate clean. The Cardinals would be just the third team to fire their head coach this season, but doing so would allow them to "officially" get a head start on their list of next candidates. Guys like Philadelphia's Shane Steichen won't be able to be interviewed until after Wild Card Weekend, so there won't be a rush to get head coaching candidates immediately into the facility for interviews, either. The more time for preparation, the better.
The bye week allows teams to hit the reset button on numerous levels. The Cardinals, should they relieve Kingsbury of his duties, would give the team an opportunity to accomplish just that down the final stretch of what has been a shambolic season all around.