4 Dark Horse Bill Belichick Replacements as Patriots Head Coach

Dec 25, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury walks the
Dec 25, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury walks the / Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports
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1. Kliff Kingsbury

A 2003 sixth-round pick of the Patriots, Kliff Kingsbury is an intriguing prospective candidate. The former NFL journeyman quarterback has plied his coaching trade as a modern offensive guru. At the college level, Kingsbury has helped tutor Case Keenum, Johnny Manziel, Baker Mayfield, and Patrick Mahomes. If the Patriots take a quarterback with the third overall pick, Kingsbury is certainly qualified to take the young signal caller under his wing.

Kingsbury was the head coach at Texas Tech from 2013-2018, and served as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals from 2019-2022. The 2020 Cardinals missed out on the NFC's final playoff spot due to a tiebreaker, finishing 8-8-1. While the 2021 team started 7-0, they fell in six of their last 10 games before being knocked out in the Wild Card Round by the eventual champion Los Angeles Rams.

After securing a six-year extension following the 2021 season, Kingsbury only saw out one year of that deal as he was fired after a 4-13 2022 season. There had been reported friction and dysfunction between Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray in 2022, including reports that the head coach was "miserable" and that he was frustrated with his franchise quarterback's negativity and intent on freestyling at the line of scrimmage.

Kingsbury's 28-37-1 record in the desert doesn't jump off the page, but head coaches do generally improve with their second stop (see Bill Belichick as exhibit A).

Kingsbury's previous NFL head coaching experience gives him an edge over some of the other candidates on this list who would be taking their first crack at pro head coaching. He was also reportedly considered for the New England offensive coordinator opening last offseason before the team moved forward with Bill O'Brien.

It's a long shot, but it is worth noting that Kingsbury served as USC's senior offensive analyst and quarterbacks coach this season. USC quarterback Caleb Williams is the consensus best prospect in the draft, and there is a possibility that Chicago could offload the number one overall pick.

Kingsbury fits the bill as both an experienced NFL head coach and an offensive mind that can provide mentorship to the rookie quarterback and run a much-needed rebuild on offense. Add in the fact that he's a former Patriot with a pre-existing relationship with the Krafts, and he might surprise some people as a candidate.

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