TEMPE, Ariz. — The pressure of making the playoffs in his third season doesn’t bother Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Getting fired from Texas Tech, his alma mater, after the 2018 season prepared Kingsbury for whatever is thrown his way as a head coach.
“I think going through being the head coach at your alma mater and getting fired, it’s kind of walking through fire in this profession,” Kingsbury said Wednesday. “So, after going through that, not too much really fazes you.”
Arizona is tied for the second-longest playoff drought in the NFL, having last made the postseason in 2015, when it reached the NFC Championship Game.
After starting last season 5-2 and squarely in the playoff picture, the Cardinals then went 3-6 and missed out on the postseason by one game after losing their last two games of the year, both of which were win-and-you’re-in games.
Making the playoffs this season was a common topic early in training camp, and Kingsbury said this year’s roster, which includes the addition of defensive lineman J.J. Watt, center Rodney Hudson and wide receiver A.J. Green, was built to make a run this year.
The Cardinals are projected to go 8-9, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index, with a 31.4% chance of making the playoffs. The FPI, however, gave the three other teams in the NFC West — the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks — better than a 63% chance of making the playoffs.
“Every year in the NFL there’s pressure,” Kingsbury said. “So, I just kind of take it week by week and try to do the best that we can. But it’s a team that was put together to win now, there’s no doubt, and there’s a lot of guys in that locker room that are getting up in age, can still play at a high level, but they have a sense of urgency to try and have a successful season.”