Whisenhunt Could Be Wrong Guy to Lead Cards
By Scott Allen
By Jeremy Roemmich, raisingzona.com contributor
The Arizona Cardinals are 31-31 under head coach Ken Whisenhunt after losing to the Carolina Panthers in week 15, who came into the game with the NFL’s worst record. Yet those 31 wins make Whisenhunt the most victorious coach for the franchise since moving to Phoenix in 1988, and place him second to Don Coryell who posted a 42-27 record with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1973 through 1977. Considering that his four seasons the Cardinals have accounted for two division titles, and the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance, a coaching change looks all the more unlikely. Though the opposite side of that debate hinges on the weakness of the NFC West overhis tenure, including the fact that the division champion in 2010 will likely do so with a losing record. Despite such low standards for a playoff berth, Arizona is not in the post season conversation.
The St. Louis Rams appear to be finishing their rebuilding process, and will look to pull away from the rest of the division in 2011. Arizona, San Francisco, and Seattle each find themselves in need of a franchise quarterback if they intend to compete for the division crown over the next decade. The Cardinals squandered the opportunity to grow 2006’s 10th overall pick, Matt Leinart behind veteran starter Kurt Warner. After Warner’s retirement, the team soon realized Leinart would not be their future leader, and released him, after his lost the starting job to free agent acquisition Derek Anderson. Anderson hasn’t lived up to expectations, compiling a 2-7 record as Arizona’s starter, while throwing 7 touch downs, and 10 interceptions, leaving the organization with questions about the position for 2011, and beyond.
Arizona seems to be a perfect fit for veteran Donovan McNabb, who many expect to be released ending his tenure with the Redskins after just one season. Should Arizona acquire McNabb, they’ll find themselves in a situation similar to the acquisition of Kurt Warner. They’ll have a starting quarterback, with no promise for the future, but will be able to draft a young prospect, and develop him, as opposed to throwing him to the wolves, and potential stunting his growth, and potential. Should that be the route the Cardinals decide to take, the next question becomes: Would it be more beneficial to allow Whisenhunt the opportunity to rebuild, or start fresh with a new coaching staff, complete with an offensive coordinator, and QB coach with a track record of developing quarterbacks?
Whisenhunt started his coaching career in 1995 at Vanderbilt University as a coaching special teams, and tight ends. In 1997 he joined the Ravens coaching staff as their TE coach staying for two years, before one year stints with the Browns (Special Teams Coach), and the Jets (TE Coach.) In 2001 he was hired in Pittsburgh to replace TE coach Mike Mularkey who was promoted to offensive coordinator. In 2004 when Mularkey accepted the head coaching job in Buffalo, Whisenhunt replaced him as offensive coordinator. During his three seasons running the Steelers offense the team never ranked higher then second in their division for points scored, and only broke into the NFL’s top ten once, in 2005 when they finished ranked ninth. Their passing game during this period ranked among the bottom third of the league, until breaking into the middle of the pack in 2006, but despite this Whisenhunt was offered the head coaching job in Arizona in 2007. Currently the Cardinals offense ranks 27th in scoring, 31st in yards, first downs, passing yards, and passing touchdowns, 30th in rushing yards, and 19th in rushing touchdowns.
From job history, to performance it seems apparent that Whisenhunt is not the man the Cardinals need to lead their franchise back to credibility, but only time will tell if they take action to start the rebuilding process.