Commanders hire Kliff Kingsbury: Magic Johnson helped lure offensive coordinator to Washington, per report


The Washington Commanders have their offensive coordinator, bringing in former Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury to run the offense for new head coach Dan Quinn, the team announced.

And it didn’t take long for the Commanders to have their new defensive coordinator as well, as Dan Whitt Jr. is following Dan Quinn to Washington, a move that happened not long after the Kingsbury news broke. Whitt was the Cowboys’ secondary coach and passing game coordinator under Quinn.

Kingsbury will head to Washington after talks fell through with the Las Vegas Raiders over the weekend. Per NFL Media, Kingsbury and the Raiders struggled to come to terms on a contract. That’s when Magic Johnson, who is a limited partner within the Commanders ownership group, reportedly stepped in and was the one who pulled Kingsbury back as he was negotiating with Las Vegas and ultimately lured him to Washington. 

The Commanders have the No. 2 overall pick and a projected $73.6 million in cap space (per Over The Cap) this offseason, the first under the Josh Harris ownership group. Adam Peters was hired as general manager and Quinn was brought in as head coach, with Kingsbury the next move to be made.

Kingsbury served as an offensive analyst for USC this past season after he was fired by Arizona last January. He went 28-37-1 during four seasons with the Cardinals, and made the playoffs in 2021 after going 11-6. After a 5-10-1 campaign in his first NFL season, Kingsbury improved his win total by three wins each of the next two years. 

Things fell apart in 2022, however, as Arizona finished in last place in the NFC West with a 4-13 record. Previously, Kingsbury served as the head coach at Texas Tech, and was offensive coordinator at Texas A&M the year Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy.

Since Kingsbury was an offensive analyst at USC, he had a full season look at Caleb Williams, the quarterback expected to be a top-three pick (at the very least) in the draft. The Chicago Bears have the No. 1 pick and already have a quarterback on their roster in Justin Fields, although they could trade Fields and select Williams.

If Chicago doesn’t trade Fields, Washington is in prime position to select Williams at No. 2 — which would be a “reunion” with Kingsbury from this past season. 

Kingsbury will be tasked with improving an offense that finished 24th in points per possession (1.68) and 24th in yards per possession (26.9). The Commanders finished 23rd in offensive points per game (19.0) and yards per play (5.0). 

Whitt worked with Quinn in Dallas for the past three years. In all three of those seasons, Dallas was a top-five defense in points allowed. Washington’s defense ranked last in the NFL in both points and yards allowed in 2023.

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