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Rams face Cardinals team in freefall

Will Kliff Kingsbury be fired during the season?

NFL: SEP 25 Rams at Cardinals Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pretty soon, the money won’t matter anymore.

The Arizona Cardinals gave Kliff Kingsbury an extension in the offseason, rewarding the former Texas Tech coach (35-40 career college record) after an 11-6 campaign and a trip to the postseason in 2021. But Kingsbury’s engaging personality, often cited as one of the nicest coaches in the business, will soon not be enough to make up for a decade of underwhelming results.

The Cardinals enter their Week 10 matchup against the L.A. Rams with a 3-6 record and their season would be all but over with a loss on Sunday.

It’s not as though Sean McVay can claim to be any happier with his offensive results this year and both NFC West franchises are on the brink of calling it a year if they lose this weekend. But McVay’s job is safe. Kingsbury has no reputation to precede him, not reason for optimism in the future based on what we’ve seen so far.

Despite being hired for his history with offense, Kingsbury’s Cardinals rank 32nd in net yards per pass attempt, 23rd in scoring percentage per drive, and 25th in third down conversion rate. More over, even though Arizona has won three game, and the Raiders/Panthers/Colts/Texans exist, no team has spent more time TRAILING this season than the Cardinals.

Murray, playing on a freshly signed $230 million extension, has a QBR of 47.8 and is on pace for 23 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a modest (for him) 678 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Those are acceptable numbers in the year 2005. They’re mediocre in 2022.

And Kingsbury was hired specifically to enhance Kyler Murray’s ability to become a star NFL quarterback. That hasn’t happened.

Defensively, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has run Arizona into a 31st place ranking in points allowed; 27th in yards allowed, 25th in passing yards allowed, 28th on third down, and 27th in the red zone. The Cardinals have now lost four of their last five games, including the last three defeats by at least eight points.

The only three teams that Arizona has beaten are the 2-6 Raiders, 3-7 Panthers, and 3-6 Saints.

From Kingsbury’s perspective, the Cardinals are facing a Rams team that is also much worse than expected. That’s true. But L.A.’s going to keep doing what they’re doing regardless of outcome because at least they have a Super Bowl trophy still hanging out at SoFi Stadium. The Cardinals have 103 years of losing to still atone for.

If the Rams can deliver Kingsbury another loss on Sunday, it won’t just keep L.A.’s season alive. It could also be the last thing that Kingsbury ever sees in the NFL.