The Arizona Cardinals, coming off an 11-6 record and one playoff appearance, gave head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim contract extensions in March 2022 to keep them with the team through the 2027 season. It’s not retrospective to say that this was an overreaction, but the next 10 months proved that this was largely an overreaction. Last Sunday, the Cardinals closed out the season by losing their seventh straight game. The next day Kingsbury was fired and Keim resigned.

Anyone could see that the 2022 Cardinals were bad just by looking at their 4-13 record, but this year’s seasonal version of hard blows, which followed the team, offered much additional evidence. Two of Defector’s staff watched and discussed his conclusions after the finale aired Wednesday night.


Samer Kalaf: Hello Maitreyi. I’m learning from my previous mistakeso I won’t say that we were the only two people on staff to watch the Cardinals season from hard blowsbut you were definitely the only one who agreed to write about it with me.

Maitreyi Anantharaman: What a show! I think what I like about the season version of hard blows it’s that the compensatory narratives have had time to develop, and when you join the team in the middle of the season you have a good idea of ​​what they are. You can watch the games yourself, you can follow other reports about the team, and you can then use that extratextual knowledge to read between the lines of the show. you know exactly what It is not said that. And it seemed like not much was being said about the Cardinals in hard blows. For example, if the program were your only source of information about your computer, you might be surprised to learn about Kyler Murray’s “homework” clausethe history of the offseason and that was never mentioned in hard blows. But if he knows he’s coming in, he’s looking for, and I think he’s finding!, signs of his/his teammates’ discontent with him every episode. Just a really fun dynamic.

SK: Yeah, it became a fun challenge that way. Struggling general manager Steve Keim was on the show for maybe a total of six minutes all season, and I don’t think he spoke. The only thing I remember him saying was muttering something after the Cardinals blew a lead in one inning. He now he has left the team. I have observed hard blows before, but not the season version, because I had no interest in the 2021 Colts. This version, unlike the usual preseason edition, felt like sort of a spoiler-win situation: you knew what would happen based on that week’s box score and you wanted to see how the coaches and players handled it. For almost every episode, he knew the Cardinals would lose, and he wanted to see how ineffective Kliff Kingsbury’s locker room pep talks could be.

ME: Kliff!!!! Oh Lord! I don’t think I’ve ever hated anyone else? I remember telling you that he looked like a sketch comedy character to me, always faking that thoughtful scowl.

SK: Yes, the draw this season was originally supposed to be how Kyler interacted with his coaches and the front office. But after he tore his ACL, I focused on finding out when Kliff would be fired and supporting him. As you said, hard blows It doesn’t really provide the access it advertises, but I felt like I had a better idea of ​​what a terrible NFL head coach did every time Kliff got everyone together and delivered the exact same speech after a loss. He kept saying the effort was there and they just needed to win one, but they never did. The Cardinals did not have a difficult schedule either: one of these losses was against the Denver Broncos. while Nathaniel Hackett remained the head coach.

ME: If nothing else, the show helped me appreciate the pep talks, which Kliff and Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill made seem like the hardest task in the world. JJ Watt had some good ones. Budda Baker’s were mostly sad. There’s something brutal about it as a viewer: you know it’s not going to get better for them. You know Kliff is totally out of it. (A thursday doorbellSteven Ruiz wrote that Kliff’s plays after timeouts cost the team 74.3 percentage points of win probability during the season). But he doesn’t know if them know what? Then you just have to watch them fool themselves, either out of ignorance or self-preservation.

SK: As someone who’s been transfixed by on-the-wall documentaries flying over mitt romney Y anthony weinerI enjoyed this aspect of the show. Treating it like a dark comedy made it so much better in my experience. The scene after they lost in overtime to the Bucs on Christmas was presented so well I laughed like it was an episode of Veep:

ME: Yes, again, Kliff is so goofy and uninspiring that he seems fictional. He has the perpetual Kendall Roy face.

SK: Shit, it really does. A lot of 30- and 40-something NFL head coaches tend to make this expression after a bad play, where it seems like they’re thinking about how much they’ve let their father down. In Kliff’s case, his father isn’t a big name among the pros: Tim Kingsbury is a former high school football coach and apparently the first person in the United States to buy a 2015 F-150 pickup. Kudos to him.

We’ve spent a lot of space downloading at Kliff Kingsbury, and it’s totally justified. Honestly, I could do it all day. The 30 second scene at the end of him telling the coaches that he was fired made it all worth it. But what did you enjoy this season? Rookie tight end Trey McBride was a nice guy, but there was a general lack of charisma on the team. He basically switched to the JJ Watt retirement documentary with the last two episodes.

ME: They got lucky with the retirement of JJ Watt. Something I loved was that DT Leki Fotu made waffles for his teammates in the meeting room, but he didn’t make the batter beforehand, so he was mixing the ingredients in the meeting room? The ending also had a nice scene of DeAndre Hopkins showing everyone a plate that he painted. But yeah, there were no more than five or six people affiliated with the Cardinals that I respected when the show ended, and one was JJ Watt’s baby.

SK: The producers spent a good deal of the episode’s time on the Watts’ adorable baby, as if it were an apology for putting everyone through so many boring and shitty moments. I appreciated the scenes with Kyler before he hurt his knee; my conclusion was that playing football with him seems miserable, but the other three quarterbacks that played didn’t have much to do.

ME: The scenes in the QB room were fabulous. It really seemed like the worst place in the world. Quarterbacks coach Cam Turner might actually be less inspiring than Kliff.

SK: I don’t recall a single Turner contribution that helped quarterbacks in any way. He must have learned it from his uncle Norv. what were they doing all day?

ME: They were doing magic tricks with David Blough.

SK: I don’t want to bring all of this back to Kliff, I’m actually happy to, but it speaks to his abilities as a head coach that the QB room, which would be his area of ​​expertise, didn’t seem to be urgent about anything. they did. With certain position coaches, you got an idea of ​​how they carried themselves, and then you had defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, the former Broncos head coach who was basically auditioning for the Kingsbury job the whole time. His speeches at least had some variety.

ME: Shawn Jefferson, the wide receivers coach, also gave some good speeches. (Though the one I remember best was actually given to his son Van, who is on a different team.) I liked the scene of him reading the Franco Harris Wikipedia page. Training is so weird! I felt like I could pretty easily tell who was respected and who was disrespected on staff, but it’s all kind of a craps game.

SK: The other thing I have to keep in mind is that since NFL teams are so nervous about having cameras around, it makes it hard to separate what we saw and how these coaches actually introduced plays and concepts and taught them to the players. players, because I don’t want their secrets to get out. Still, I’m still convinced that Cam Turner isn’t doing shit.

ME: One story I liked at the end was Kliff performing his special piece “Joe Montana” which worked, he won the orchestral expansion. hard blows music, and helped them lose just 38-13.

SK: That play mostly functioned as proof of life for AJ Green. They did a simulation of the second half of that game so that Watt would take it all on the field with his baby. Kliff can carry the “Joe Montana” play into his next job, which will be working as an offensive coordinator or coaching a college team that won’t finish higher than the Bahamas Bowl.

ME: rip, king.

SK: I was hoping they would feature more bad decorating decisions in their strange cube house. The framed works of Batman and the Joker in his home theater were fine, but the lion in the crown was perfect. Kliff is about as deep as a millionaire-minded Instagram page.

Here’s a fun closing question: what you learned from while watching this season of hard blowsWho on the show has the brightest future in the NFL? You can’t pick JJ Watt’s baby.

ME: I was struck by the strangeness of the list. I didn’t pay much attention to the Cardinals before, but man, the team is kind of old and not many Dudes at premium positions.

SK: My original answer was going to be that Budda Baker has a bright future, but then I looked it up and learned that he is 27 years old and just finished his sixth season.

ME: You are well. So my answer is Matt Prater.

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