The Pittsburgh Steelers will talk to former Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury as part of their offensive coordinator search, longtime NFL insider Peter King reported in an appearance on 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday.
Kingsbury spent the 2023 season working as the senior offensive analyst and de-facto quarterbacks coach for the USC Trojans, working with and mentoring projected No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Caleb Williams.
Before that, the 44-year-old Texas native spent four tumultuous years as the Arizona Cardinals head coach. The Cardinals hired Kingsbury out of the college ranks, giving him the head coach position as his first NFL job. That came with some obvious ups and downs, and Kingsbury’s offense seemed poised to help young star quarterback Kyler Murray.
But it never really panned out that way. The Cardinals didn’t seem to operate with a coherent player acquisition strategy, and left Murray an offense without consistent weapons or protection. The college scheme seemed to struggled in its transition to the NFL, and then the personalities started to clash.
Injuries to Murray and DeAndre Hopkins sank the Cardinals’ 2022 season, and Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim were both fired after finishing 4-12.
The Steelers will have a direct backchannel to the way things went under Kingsbury in Phoenix, as J.J. Watt played for the Cardinals in his final two seasons.
Kingsbury developed his offense at Houston and Texas A&M at the college level, where he worked with Case Keenum and Johnny Manziel. He returned to his alma mater Texas Tech as a first-time head coach in 2012, and the third-youngest FBS coach in the nation. He turned walk-on freshman Baker Mayfield into a household name and took Tech to an 8-5 season in his first year, culminating with a Holiday Bowl win.
But despite having Patrick Mahomes at quarterback next, he was never able to replicate that success and was fired in 2018 after finishing 5-7 for the second time in three years.