Can Ken Whisenhunt Change His Ways To Change Results?


The Ken Whisenhunt numbers are quite staggering: a 47-65 record (.420 win percentage) as a head coach in his career, to go along with a 3-25 record in his last 28 games. Surely those aren’t numbers that should be expected of a guy getting paid more than most NFL head coaches. But here we are, with that guy as our coach for the immediate time and immense uncertainty rooted in our long-term future.

Ken Whisenhunt is a very well-known guy in football, mostly because of his 2008 Super Bowl run as the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Whisenhunt’s team that year got into the playoffs on the heels of an inept division that finished with a .371 winning percentage (not including the Cardinals), while closing out the regular season on a 2-4 skid throughout the final six weeks. Still, they got into the playoffs, made a fantastic run, and wound up losing by a hair to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a very memorable Super Bowl.

How much of that can be credited to Whiz?

It’s always tough to give credit or place blame when it comes to coaches. You don’t just make it to a Super Bowl without good player development and game managing. But with a surefire future hall-of-fame quarterback in Kurt Warner, a probable future hall-of-fame running back in Edgerrin James, two more-than-likely future hall-of-fame wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, and a top-notch defensive unit, it’s hard to argue that how far they went wasn’t exactly what should have happened. Whisenhunt deserves praise for getting them in position to win it all.

Ever since that year, it’s been tough sledding for Whisenhunt. After three years of Kurt Warner as his quarterback, his next three years with the Cardinals consisted of two 5-11 seasons to pair with an 8-8 one. You might look at his quarterbacks during those years and blame it on a lack of talent at the position, but it’s well-known that Whisenhunt has a certain type/mold of quarterback that he likes and tries to develop by himself. That way of thinking led to a waste of a year with Derek Anderson at the helm, an incredibly failed trade for Kevin Kolb, and to top it all off in 2012, the fearsome foursome of Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer.

Ken Whisenhunt is considered a QB “guru”, yet he hasn’t really developed anyone in any way.

He was the offensive coordinator for the Steelers from 2004-2006, the first three years of pro bowler Ben Roethlisberger’s career. Big Ben had a good first two years while leading the Steelers to the playoffs both years and winning the Super Bowl for the 2005 season on the backs of a strong run game and outstanding defense. His third year, Roethlisberger finished with an 18:23 touchdown to interception ratio. Whisenhunt left after that year for Arizona and Big Ben went on to complete the following year with a 32:11 ratio.

He didn’t develop any of his chosen quarterbacks in Arizona at all.

Then in 2013, as the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, he was said to have revitalized perennial pro bowler Philip Rivers’ career. In reality, Rivers was finally able to stay healthy, his offensive line wasn’t an absolute mess, his running backs could actually gain more than three yards per carry, his receiving corps didn’t consist of Robert Meachem, Danario Alexander and Michael Spurlock, and his defense wasn’t among the worst in the league.

We can give Whienshunt all the credit we want for Roethlisberger and Rivers if we ignore the flashing signs. His results just haven’t lived up to the hype that he has blindly received.

His first year with the Titans certainly didn’t alleviate any of the worries that the flashing signs posed. He signed “Clipboard Jesus” Charlie Whitehurst and drafted Zach Mettenberger, two quarterbacks who so very much resemble all the other ones he has tried to groom and failed.

There may be hope that Whisenhunt will evolve, though. His name is Marcus Mariota. Drafting Mariota is a complete change in direction if Whisenhunt is to be believed that he is “his guy”. Did Whisenhunt really want to draft a quarterback who is far away from being his type? Could his drafting be a front office decision to make the franchise relevant? Could it be a sales pitch to possible future buyers to show that they will now have a franchise asset?

The answer will never be known, but if Ken Whisenhunt wants to improve his coaching record I suggest he change the way he views his offensive and coaching philosophy. He will be better for it and the Titans will be better for it, especially in a league where his philosophy hasn’t panned out in over seven years.

If he doesn’t, we’re looking at another losing season in 2015 and a new coach in 2016. For the better, maybe?

Next: Could Wes Welker Be A Fit With The Tennessee Titans?

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