When the Cleveland Browns take the field in Arizona this Sunday, they will be led by two former Cardinals coaches.
Kitchens spent 11 seasons in Arizona while Wilks only served one.
Both coaches experienced very different results during their time in the desert.
Kitchens’ Experience in Arizona
Kitchens spent time coaching in the college ranks before moving up to the NFL.
After one season with Dallas, Kitchens moved on to Arizona, where he spent 11 seasons.
Beginning in 2007, Kitchens served as their tight ends coach for six seasons.
Before the 2013 season, he became the quarterbacks’ coach and then coached the running backs in 2017.
Almost immediately, Kitchens experienced great success as a member of Arizona’s coaching staff.
In 2008, Kitchens’s second season with the team, the Cardinals finished the season with a 9-7 record.
That team ended up going to Super Bowl XLIII versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In a wildly entertaining game that came down to the wire, Arizona lost 27-23.
The Cardinals nearly went to the Super Bowl again in 2015, but lost to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship 49-15.
As a coach in Arizona, Kitchens helped the Cardinals reach the playoffs four times.
Wilks’ Experience in Arizona
Wilks was also a college coach before joining the NFL coaching circle.
After serving on the staff of the Bears and Chargers, Wilks joined the Carolina Panthers in 2012.
Upon arriving in Carolina, Wilks served as the defensive backs coach for three seasons.
In 2015, he was promoted to assistant head coach along with his defensive back coaching duties.
It was during this season that he faced Kitchens and Arizona in the NFC title game.
In 2017, Wilks became the defensive coordinator for the Panthers.
During his time with the Panthers, the team went to the playoffs four times, including Super Bowl 50 in 2015.
After the 2017 season, Wilks was a hot coaching commodity and was quickly hired by the Cardinals.
Wilks’ experience with a winning team in Carolina would not be replicated in Arizona.
Wilks was expected to help shape the defense and return the Cardinals to the playoffs.
However, the team never got on track.
The only bright spot of 2018 was the Cardinal’s first-ever victory against the Packers in Green Bay.
Despite that accomplishment, Arizona finished the 2018 season 3-13, their worst record since 2000.
Shortly after the season ended, Wilks was fired by the Cardinals after serving only one season as the head coach.
Kitchens and Wilks Together in Cleveland
Wilks wouldn’t be out of a job for long.
Kitchens left Arizona for Cleveland in 2018 before Wilks became the head coach.
Following the 2018 season, Kitchens was promoted to head coach.
One of his first hires was the recently fired Wilks, whom Kitchens named as his defensive coordinator.
Now both coaches will try and outperform Wilks’ Arizona replacement, Kliff Kingsbury, on Sunday.
Although his tenure in the desert was short, Wilks holds no ill will toward the Cardinals.
Wilks spoke to the media recently about his time in Arizona. “What I learned was just really how to deal with adversity,” he said. “As a head coach, trying to prepare each and every week, trying to get your guys up to perform at a high level.
It was difficult going through the struggles, but I thought the guys performed and played well, and they stayed together throughout.
There were a lot of things that I learned, and a lot of things I will carry moving forward.”