Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ken Whisenhunt to Tennessee Titans: A Questionable Fit


Whisenhunt to Titans: A Questionable Fit

Aug. 24, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA: San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Titans fans hear Ken Whisenhunt is coming to Nashville, and remember his Super Bowl run after the 2008 season. I’d say “pump the brakes” if you’re already expecting a parade through Nashville next February.

After a lengthy stay in Pittsburgh as tight ends coach and offensive coordinator, he earned his first shot at a head coaching job. During six seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, he was 45-51 during the regular season, with only two winning seasons.

Whisenhunt is known for his offensive prowess and ability to nurture quarterbacks; however, it’s important to note that his most successful seasons came with great talent at the position.

Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner, & Philip Rivers are all cited as beneficiaries of Whisenhunt’s work. However, all three quarterbacks have exhibited stellar play without him as well. If a large portion of their success is a direct result of Whisenhunt’s coaching, why did Matt Leinart, Derek Anderson, Kevin Kolb, Max Hall, Brian Hoyer, & Ryan Lindley fail so miserably?

So which came first: the chicken or the egg?

What Whisenhunt brings to the Titans organization is head coaching experience at the highest level, and a refreshing change in philosophy.

It’s a bit overzealous to think he’ll completely turn around Jake Locker “just because.” The No. 8  overall pick from the 2011 draft is more Rivers than he is Hall, but he won’t win Super Bowls solely because of the man standing on the sideline.

What about the defense? Whisenhunt ran the 3-4 during his stint in Arizona. One has to wonder whether or not he will install it in Nashville. In that case, the next logical question would be whether or not the Titans have the appropriate personnel to play in the 3-4 to begin with.

Jurrell Casey, the Titans defensive cornerstone, is a natural fit at defensive tackle in the 4-3 scheme. What are you risking in tampering with that? Besides, this linebacking corps is one of the biggest question marks heading into the offseason. The Titans don’t have three undisputed starters at the position, much less four. Lest we forget, you need a big, space-eating nose tackle to clog up the middle of the field. Who will fill that role?

Admittedly, this decision will be made after hiring his defensive coordinator…a choice he must get right. Otherwise, you won’t see much improvement on that side of the ball.

Titans fans should be cheering for Ray Horton to be fired in Cleveland. He put some real quality defenses on the field when coordinating for Whisenhunt in Arizona from 2011-12. Not to mention, Horton pieced together a feisty defense (considering his resources) in Cleveland this season.  His name has been mentioned in following Whisenhunt to Nashville.

Regardless of what happens in this facet of the organization, it’s going to take quite a bit of time to adjust to a new system….for either the coach or the players.

You may charge me with nitpicking here, but it’s worth mentioning that Whisenhunt put a strain on his 2012 team by dragging out the starting quarterback competition through the entire preseason. Paired with a reputation as a player’s coach to a fault, his personality as a head coach comes into question.

Ideally, his ability to coach offensive football along with Ruston Webster’s ability to evaluate talent will provide an exciting brand of football in Nashville.  Hopefully, Whisenhunt will have learned from his mistakes in Arizona, and know exactly how to captain the ship for the Titans.

For me, I’m going to believe it when I see it.

This post comes from Stoney Keeley of The SoBros Network. You can follow the SoBros Network on twitter at @SoBrosNetwork, and read all of Stoney’s work at The Southern Brothers Network

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  • Joshua Huffman

    Hmmmm. I look at it the other way with the QBs. I don’t think anybody would’ve succeeded with that crop of QBs, especially when one considers how atrocious their OL was. The 2012 Cardinals team started 4-0 before their quarterbacks could barely last a couple games because of how much abuse they took from their OL.

    His ARZ tenure was interesting because he never really had his own young QB to develop. He took over with Leinart (From the Dennis Green era) but went with Kurt Warner. Then those QBs you mentioned were retreads or very low-round / undrafted draft picks.

    Get this man a QB (or keep Locker healthy) and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do with this team.

    • TheSoBrosNetwork

      I just want to mention…at the risk of being laughed off the internet….

      Kevin Kolb had some success in Philadelphia….Derek Anderson was 10-6 in Cleveland the year Vince Young kept them out of the playoffs.

      That is all.

      If his coaching could make a good quarterback great….why couldn’t it make a bad quarterback mediocre? That’s my real point. Should he be blamed for offensive line woes? I don’t know, but he never seemed to have the right pieces in place.

      Otherwise, I’m with you. With the proper amount of talent (I thought he would’ve been perfect in Detroit), he’s proven he can coach offensive football. In an ideal situation, Webster will take good care of him, and hopefully, I’ll be proven woefully wrong.

  • James Kirk

    Since Whisenhunt didn’t have control of players drafted/ picked up on FA when he was with the Cards, he had to work with what he had. He helped mold Ben with the Steelers, resurrected Kurt’s career after a steep perfomance decline with the Rams and being dumped by the Giants. The Chargers offense was 31st last season and now everyone’s talking about the resurrection of Phillip (see a pattern?). The “great” Belicheck was a combined 36-44 with the Browns with only 1 winning season and that turned out OK for the Patriots, so there are many more factors involved in gauging a coache’s abilty to succeed than just looking at their previous records. I would defy you to name ANY coach who could succeed with Anderson, Skelton, or Leinart as starters. If you took Brady away how good would Belicheck be or Manning with Caughlin, or Manning with Dungy, ect.