HENDERSON, Nev. — The Las Vegas Raiders are expected to hire former Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury as their offensive coordinator, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday.
Kingsbury, 44, was one of four candidates who interviewed for the vacant position during the past two weeks, along with Luke Getsy, Alex Van Pelt and Mike Sullivan.
Raiders coach Antonio Pierce on Jan. 24 half-jokingly said he wanted a “minimum 24 points” per game out of a new offensive coordinator. And Kingsbury, who coached the Cardinals from 2019 to 2022, averaged 23.6 points over that stretch. The high point came in 2021, when Arizona averaged 26.4 points, went 11-6 and played in the postseason.
The Raiders, who are likely to move on from veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason, are also in line to add a quarterback to join rookie Aidan O’Connell, be it in free agency, trade or the draft. But in order to grab one of the top prospects, Las Vegas would have to move up from their current slot at No. 13.
Kingsbury worked last fall with USC’s Caleb Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner, as the Trojans’ QB coach and senior offensive analyst. Kingsbury also drafted Kyler Murray with the Cardinals and coached Patrick Mahomes in college at Texas Tech.
Pierce, meanwhile, got a shout out from LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels during his 2023 Heisman Trophy acceptance speech, as the two are close from their time together at Arizona State.
In describing what he wanted from a new offensive coordinator, Pierce said he would have to be a “teacher” who could “adjust on the fly.”
“You’ve got to be able to run the football — play-action pass,” Pierce said. “What are the Raiders known for? The vertical passing game, right? We want to see the shots down the field. We want the explosive plays. That has to be a part of the creativity. You look at the shifts, the motions, all that stuff goes into it.
“… Just think of when [the] Raiders were playing really good football, and that’s going to be your offensive coordinator, hopefully, as we go forward.”
In Kingsbury, the Raiders will have a creative playcaller who employs a personalized version of the Air Raid offense, which includes a heavy dose of the run game. As such, it sets up play-action and deep shots, even as his quarterbacks rarely play under center. Still, his offenses with the Cardinals would stall in the second halves of seasons.
Kingsbury replaces interim offensive coordinator Bo Hardegree, who took over play-calling duties for Josh McDaniels, who was fired as Raiders coach on Halloween.
And despite offensive star power with All-Pros Davante Adams at receiver and Josh Jacobs at running back — in addition to Hunter Renfrow, Michael Mayer and Jakobi Meyers — the Raiders’ offense never found its groove. Las Vegas finished with the No. 27-ranked total offense; its 322 points scored (19.5 ppg) ranked 23rd.
To average 24 points, the Raiders will have to score 408 points — something they have only done three times since their 2002 Super Bowl season.
Kingsbury did it twice with the Cardinals, in 2020 and 2021. In going a combined 28-37-1 in the regular season, 0-1 in the playoffs, his offenses ranked 21st, 6th, 8th and 22nd, respectively.
The Raiders, meanwhile, went 8-9 last season, with Pierce benching Garoppolo and inserting O’Connell and guiding the Raiders to a 5-4 finish, including going 3-1 against the AFC West with a win at the conference champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Additionally, former Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is joining the Raiders staff as assistant head coach, a source told ESPN. Lewis is a mentor to Pierce and was an advisor to him down the stretch last season.