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Cardinals decide engaging with Stephen A. Smith over Kliff Kingsbury criticism is a good idea

Jason Owens
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There’s a whole lot of “why?” around the Arizona Cardinals lately.

Their social media team upped the ante Wednesday.

The Cardinals are under a lot of heat for hiring Kliff Kingsbury, a first-time NFL coach who didn’t compile a winning record (35-40) at Texas Tech.

As being young, white and having chiseled features appear to be the top qualities NFL teams look for in coaching candidates as they attempt to mine the next Sean McVay, critics have been vocal in questioning Kingsbury’s credentials.

ESPN’s loudest talking head blasts Cardinals

The most vocal of sports critics, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, is among them.

“This dude Kingsbury, that just got hired by the Arizona Cardinals,” Smith began a rant on his radio show Wednesday. … “Did I miss something? Was Kingsbury’s team the one that won the national championship this Monday? … Am I missing something? Is there something I have missed here? Is there something I have failed to comprehend?

“The man didn’t even have a .500 record at Texas Tech. He got an offensive coordinator’s job at USC, and before he had a chance to take a leak, this brother’s got a head coaching job in the National Football League.”

Cardinals respond like a fan site

The Cardinals, rather than prudently moving past the slight from a man whose job it is to deliver slights, instead chose to amplify it by taking on Smith directly from the official team Twitter account.

What’s the point?

So, yeah. Why? On multiple levels.

The Cardinals looked to capitalize on Smith’s recent flubs that saw him fail to get his facts straight when previewing a Chargers-Chiefs game in December, most notably forgetting that tight end Hunter Henry had been on injured reserve all season.

In doing so, they only increased the spotlight on his valid criticisms of their decisions.

Smith may be a blowhard. But he has a point. The Kingsbury hire is worthy of all the criticism being piled upon it. Maybe the Cardinals will end up thriving under Kingsbury and young quarterback Josh Rosen, whom he will be inextricably linked to.

But if that ends up being the case, it will have been the result of getting lucky with haphazard gambling rather than prudent decision making.

The Cardinals are going all in with Kliff Kingsbury until he flames out or they prove their critics spectacularly wrong. (Getty)
The Cardinals are going all in with Kliff Kingsbury until he flames out or they prove their critics spectacularly wrong. (Getty)

Cardinals embracing heat after big gamble on Kingsbury

The Cardinals are clearly confident in their decision and have taken on the ample legitimate criticism coming their way as if they were running a fan site rather than a professional football franchise.

Which takes us to the next “why?”

What’s up with the Twitter handle? The “Kardinals” part? At first glance, the tweet response did, in fact, appear to come from a fan site. Further inspection showed that, no, the Cardinals have changed up their Twitter handle in an apparent ode to all things Kingsbury.

Go big or go home, apparently

So the Cardinals are going all in with Kingsbury. And, really, it’s the most admirable approach once the decision to roll the dice on him has been made.

If you’re going to make a splashy hire, you might as well go full steam until you flame out or spectacularly prove everybody wrong.

Part of that strategy includes engaging Stephen A. Smith, an interaction we likely haven’t heard the last of.

And that’s probably all part of the Cardinals plan.

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