During his 19 years in the NFL, Tom Brady has seen plenty of players enter and leave the New England Patriots’ quarterback room. From Damon Huard to Matt Cassel to Kevin O’Connell to Ryan Mallett to Jimmy Garoppolo — just name a few. One member of the group is a former sixth-round draft pick that spent just one year in New England and later traded the playing field for the sidelines: Kliff Kingsbury.
While Brady is still going strong even at age 41 and currently preparing to play in his 38th playoff game, his former backup was named head coach of the Arizona Cardinals — further illustrating just how impressive Brady’s longevity is. We have now reached a point at which even his former backups are realistic options to fill head coaching vacancies in the NFL.
Kingsbury, as noted above, spent just one season with the Patriots — one he missed due to a year-long stint on injured reserve. He later joined the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets. In 2008, Kingsbury received his first coaching opportunity; Five years later he became head coach at his alma mater, Texas Tech. After six seasons and a 35-40 record, Kingsbury was fired and originally joined USC as offensive coordinator. Just 34 days later, the Cardinals named him their new head coach.
His rise through the coaching ranks was a meteoric one for the 39-year old Kingsbury, who earned a Super Bowl ring in his lone season in New England. He is, however, not the first member of the Bill Belichick-coached Patriots to get a job as an NFL head coach: ex-linebacker Mike Vrabel, who played an integral role in the team winning its first three Super Bowls, is currently in his first year as head coach of the Tennessee Titans.
All while Tom Brady is still putting fear in the hearts of coaches all over the league. Whether this will still be the case in 2020 remains to be seen. But if it does and Kingsbury keeps his job with the Cardinals until then, we will see the first ever meeting between members of the Patriots’ 2004 quarterback room in which one of them is calling the shots from the sidelined. What a time to be alive.