Ken Whisenhunt

Kenneth Moore Whisenhunt (born February 28, 1962) is an American football coach who is the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers of the National Football League (NFL). Whisenhunt was head coach of the Arizona Cardinals from 2007 to 2012 and Tennessee Titans from 2014 to 2015. He led the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history during the 2008 season, as well as their first home playoff games in 60 years. Previously, he was known for his offensive background, including the success he had with the Pittsburgh Steelers in his three years as their offensive coordinator under Bill Cowher and winning Super Bowl XL over the Seattle Seahawks during the 2005 season.

Ken Whisenhunt
refer to caption
Whisenhunt in 2014
Los Angeles Chargers
Position:Offensive coordinator
Personal information
Born:February 28, 1962 (age 57)
Augusta, Georgia
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:233 lb (106 kg)
Career information
High school:Augusta (GA) Richmond Co.
College:Georgia Tech
NFL Draft:1985 / Round: 12 / Pick: 313
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
As assistant coach
  • Super Bowl champion (XL)
  • PFWA NFL Assistant Coach of the Year (2013)
Career NFL statistics
Receptions:62
Receiving yards:596
Touchdowns:5
Player stats at NFL.com
Head coaching record
Regular season:48–71 (.403)
Postseason:4–2 (.667)
Career:52–73 (.416)
Coaching stats at PFR

College career

After attending the Academy of Richmond County in Augusta, Georgia for high school, Whisenhunt played college football at Georgia Tech (1980–84)[1] where he graduated with a degree in civil engineering. During his senior season, he was an honorable mention All-American. He finished first team all-ACC during his final two college seasons.

  • 1981: 22 catches for 295 yards and 2 TD.[2]
  • 1982: 15 catches for 208 yards.
  • 1983: 18 catches for 244 yards and 2 TD.
  • 1984: 27 catches for 517 yards and 3 TD.

NFL playing career

His career as a player included four years (1985–88) as a tight end with the Atlanta Falcons, who drafted him in the twelfth round, and then short stints of two seasons each with the Washington Redskins and New York Jets. He retired from the league in 1993 after nine seasons in which he was mostly known as a blocking back. From 1986–1988 with Atlanta, he accumulated 53 catches for 503 yards with 5 TD.[3]

Coaching career

Early career

Whisenhunt began his coaching career at Vanderbilt University, where he coached special teams, tight ends and running backs for the Commodores from 1995 to 1996. In 1997, he returned to the National Football League as the tight ends coach for the Baltimore Ravens. Whisenhunt was a transient in his early years in the league, moving to the staff of the Cleveland Browns in 1999 and to the New York Jets the following season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

In 2001, Whisenhunt was hired by the Steelers to coach their tight ends. He was able to develop players such as Mark Bruener and Jay Riemersma, both considered past their prime, into excellent blocking backs. He also oversaw the early development of tight end Heath Miller, who has been a successful tight end in the league.

Whisenhunt took over the role of offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh for the 2004 season after Mike Mularkey became the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Although his predecessor Mularkey was known for creating flashy trick plays, Whisenhunt showed great success as more of a cautious innovator, whose well-timed trick plays contrasted the conservative Steelers run game.

One of Whisenhunt's most famous moments as a Steeler is the trick play he called in Super Bowl XL. With Pittsburgh leading 14-10 over the Seattle Seahawks, Whisenhunt called a wide receiver reverse pass (Antwaan Randle El to Hines Ward, the only TD pass thrown by a WR in Super Bowl history) that allowed Pittsburgh to extend the lead over the Seahawks.

Arizona Cardinals

On January 14, 2007, the Arizona Cardinals hired Whisenhunt as their new head coach, with a contract to receive an average of $2.5 million annually. Whisenhunt had also interviewed for the head coaching position with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, and Miami Dolphins. He was previously interviewed to be the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in February 2006, but he pulled out of talks before an offer could be made.[4]

The Cardinals showed improvement in Whisenhunt's first season, finishing 8-8 after finishing 5-11 the previous two seasons and losing 10 or more games in seven of the previous eight campaigns. It was their first non-losing season since 1998, though they still failed to make the playoffs.

Going into his second season in 2008, Whisenhunt made the decision to go with veteran quarterback Kurt Warner as his starter. In previous seasons, Warner had split time with the team's younger quarterback Matt Leinart, although Warner started the final 11 games of the 2007 season after Leinart suffered a season-ending injury. This decision paid off as Warner put up great numbers in leading the Cardinals to a 9-7 regular season record in the 2008 season and the NFC West Division championship, the Cardinals' first division title since 1975, when the team played in St. Louis, and the club's first playoff berth since 1998. It also allowed the Cardinals to play in only their second home playoff game in franchise history, and their first since winning the NFL championship in 1947, while the team was still in Chicago (they never played a home playoff game in St. Louis despite winning two division titles there). After defeating the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers in the first two rounds of the NFC playoffs, the Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game on January 18, 2009 and advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history to face his former employer, the Steelers. Whisenhunt's Cardinals lost Super Bowl XLIII 27-23.

The following season, Whisenhunt led the Cardinals to a 10-6 record and another NFC West title. In the playoffs, the Cardinals defeated the Green Bay Packers 51-45 in overtime before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints 45-14 in the next round.

Following the retirement of Warner and a number of other losses at other positions, the Cardinals were not expected to fare well during the 2010 season. Leinart had been expected to regain his starting quarterback job. Instead, Whisenhunt installed free agent pickup Derek Anderson as the starter, made rookie Max Hall the backup, and released Leinart. The Cardinals finished 5-11 and last in the division. In 2011, despite ongoing quarterback issues, Whisenhunt and the team management put together a solid young roster that finished with an 8-8 record.

In 2012, Whisenhunt guided the Cardinals to their first 4-0 start since 1974, when the franchise was coached by Don Coryell in St. Louis. The Cardinals proceeded to lose 9 straight games and in week 14 were blown out by the Seattle Seahawks 58-0. The losing streak finally ended the following week with a 38-10 victory over the Detroit Lions.

On December 31, 2012, Whisenhunt was fired after 3 straight non-playoff seasons. Rod Graves, general manager at the time, was also relieved of his duties.[5]

San Diego Chargers

On January 17, 2013, he was hired as offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, under new head coach Mike McCoy. During the 2013 season under Whisenhunt, the Chargers' finished 5th in the league in total offense, compared to 31st the season before.

Tennessee Titans

On January 13, 2014, the Tennessee Titans hired Whisenhunt as their new head coach. Whisenhunt had also interviewed for the head coaching position with the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns.[6] In Whisenhunt's first year, the Titans regressed heavily from their 2013 mark of 7–9. Tennessee finished the 2014 season with a 2–14 record, tying the Buccaneers for the worst record in the NFL.

On November 3, 2015, after starting the season 1–6, the Titans fired Whisenhunt and named Mike Mularkey the interim head coach. Whisenhunt finished with a 3–20 record during his tenure with the team.[7]

Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers (second stint)

On January 13, 2016, the Chargers re-hired Whisenhunt as their offensive coordinator.

On December 4, 2018, it was rumored that Whisenhunt would take the head coaching job at Georgia Tech, where he and AD Todd Stansbury played football at Tech together. However, he ultimately turned down the offer, and would remain at the Chargers.

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
ARI 2007 8 8 0 .500 2nd in NFC West
ARI 2008 9 7 0 .560 1st in NFC West 3 1 .750 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
ARI 2009 10 6 0 .625 1st in NFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to New Orleans Saints in NFC Divisional Game.
ARI 2010 5 11 0 .313 4th in NFC West
ARI 2011 8 8 0 .500 2nd in NFC West
ARI 2012 5 11 0 .313 4th in NFC West
ARI Total 45 51 0 .469 4 2 .667
TEN 2014 2 14 0 .125 4th in AFC South
TEN 2015 1 6 0 .143 (Fired)
TEN Total 3 20 0 .130 0 0 .000
Total 48 71 0 .403 4 2 .667

Coaching tree

NFL head coaches under whom Whisenhunt has served:

Assistant coaches under Whisenhunt who became NFL head coaches:

Personal life

Ken and his wife, Alice, have two children: a son Kenneth Jr., and daughter Mary Ashley.

Whisenhunt earned the rank of Eagle Scout as a boy.[8]

Whisenhunt is an avid golfer.[9] A native of Augusta, Georgia., he worked the 18th hole manual scoreboard as a teenager at the Masters golf tournament, the PGA’s first major of the year. He’s played the course on a number of occasions, including May 2008 when he shot an even par 72 that included an eagle on the par-4 11th hole. Whisenhunt contemplated a career in professional golf and after retiring as a player in 1993, he spent a year away from football and played golf extensively, including competing in the ’94 U.S. Mid-Amateur at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn. Whishenhunt’s best career score is a 65 and he has made two holes in one during his lifetime. He also unofficially has a third, but it went for a three on his scorecard after his original tee shot went in the water for a penalty.[10]

References

  1. ^ Scott Michaux Coach takes pressure in stride, Augusta Chronicle, January 28, 2009. Retrieved January 28, 2009
  2. ^ https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/ken-whisenhunt-1.html
  3. ^ https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/W/WhisKe00.htm
  4. ^ "Raiders without Russell in opener". National Football League via Associated Press. April 11, 2008. Retrieved January 18, 2009.
  5. ^ Somers, Kent (January 1, 2013). "Arizona Cardinals fire head coach Ken Whisenhunt, general manager Rod Graves". AZCentral.com. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  6. ^ "Titans hire Ken Whisenhunt as their new coach". Archived from the original on January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  7. ^ Kuharsky, Paul (November 4, 2015). "Titans fire coach Ken Whisenhunt". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  8. ^ "Eagle Scouts In The News". Eagletter. Irving, TX: National Eagle Scout Association, Boy Scouts of America. 35 (2): 13. Fall 2009.
  9. ^ http://www.golfdigest.com/golf/ken-whisenhunt
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 30, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links

1985 Atlanta Falcons season

The 1985 Atlanta Falcons season was the franchise’s 20th season in the National Football League (NFL). They finished last in the NFC West with a record of four wins and twelve losses.

This season marked the first time since 1972 that the Falcons played the Kansas City Chiefs, and merely the second in team history. The reason for this is that before the admission of the Texans in 2002, NFL scheduling formulas for games outside a team’s division were much more influenced by table position during the previous season.

2011 Arizona Cardinals season

The 2011 Arizona Cardinals season was the franchise's 92nd season in the National Football League and the 24th season in Arizona. For Ken Whisenhunt, it was his fifth season as the head coach of the Cardinals. This was going to be the Cardinals first season with new starting quarterback Kevin Kolb, but he was injured &replaced by John Skelton. The team improved on their 5–11 record from the 2010 season, but missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

The 2011 Cardinals won four overtime games, an NFL record.

2012 Arizona Cardinals season

The 2012 Arizona Cardinals season was the franchise's 93rd season in the National Football League and the 25th in Arizona. After a surprising 4–0 start, the Cardinals lost eleven of their final twelve games, and missed the playoffs for a third consecutive season, resulting in the firing of head coach Ken Whisenhunt after six seasons. This was Rod Graves last season as General Manager of the Cardinals. A day after the final game of the regular season, he was fired after 16 seasons.

2013 San Diego Chargers season

The 2013 San Diego Chargers season was the franchise's 44th season in the National Football League (NFL), the 54th overall, and the 1st under head coach Mike McCoy. The Chargers finished the regular season with a record of 9–7, improving on their 7–9 record from 2012. Also, they qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Chargers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round by a score of 27–10, but lost to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional round by a score of 24–17. This was the Chargers' final playoff appearance in San Diego. They did not play in the postseason again until 2018, after relocating to Los Angeles.

The new head coach, Mike McCoy, along with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, completed the Chargers' first winning season since 2010. Only two offensive coaches returned from 2012 in an overhauled coaching staff, and a revamped offensive system had quarterback Philip Rivers release the ball earlier and taking what opposing defenses conceded. Rivers was sacked 30 times, compared to 49 the previous year, and threw for 4,479 yards and 32 touchdowns while tying a career-high with a 105.5 passer rating. San Diego's rushing attack improved from the prior season's 1,461 yards and 3.6 yards per carry—tied for the second worst in the league—to 1,965 yards and a 4-yard average. Although they were speculated to have a poor, disappointing season, and getting off to a shaky start, the Chargers finished in the top eight of the overall standings. Rivers was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and Keenan Allen broke out into the national scene as a rookie sensation, breaking multiple wide receiver rookie records. Whisenhunt left at the conclusion of the season to become the head coach of the Titans.

2014 Tennessee Titans season

The 2014 Tennessee Titans season was the franchise's 45th season in the National Football League, the 55th overall and the 18th in the state of Tennessee. It marked the first under head coach Ken Whisenhunt, as well as the first full season following the death of longtime owner Bud Adams, who died during the 2013 season. The Titans finished the season with a 2–14 record, not only tying the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the league's worst record, but the Titans also suffered their worst season since 1994, when the franchise was known as the Houston Oilers.

2015 Tennessee Titans season

The 2015 Tennessee Titans season was the franchise's 46th season in the National Football League, the 56th overall and the 19th in the state of Tennessee. Second-year head coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired on November 3 following a 1–6 start, and was replaced by tight ends coach Mike Mularkey on an interim basis. Despite slightly improving from their 2–14 season from the previous year, finishing with a 3–13 record (tied with the Cleveland Browns), they were statistically the worst team in the NFL for the season, thus earning the right to the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, later trading it to the Los Angeles Rams.

Adrian Wilson (American football)

Adrian Lemar Wilson (born on October 12, 1979) is a former American football safety. He played college football at NC State, and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He is currently the director of pro scouting for the Cardinals.

Antrel Rolle

Antrel Rocelious Rolle (born December 16, 1982) is a former American football safety of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at the University of Miami, where he was recognized as a unanimous All-American, and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals eighth overall in the 2005 NFL Draft. Rolle also played for the Chicago Bears and New York Giants, winning Super Bowl XLVI with New York in 2011.

Avery Williamson

Avery Milton Williamson (born March 9, 1992) is an American football linebacker for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He played college football at Kentucky.

Brandon Torrey

Brandon Torrey (born May 18, 1983) is a former American football offensive lineman. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2006. Torrey accepted an athletic scholarship to attend Howard University in Washington, DC where he played for Howard's Bison Football team from 2001 to 2005 and is remembered as a notable alumnus. While at Howard, Torrey set the record for most consecutive starts, and was voted top 10 Guard in the nation for Division 1AA in 2003. In 2004 Torrey won the "Metropolitan Player of the Year" and the Pig Skin Award. He received these awards alongside, Larry Fitzgerald who won college offensive player of the year and Kenechi Udeze who won college defensive player of the year. Other notable names that year were Jeremiah Trotter, Nick Novak. During his time as a Bison, Torrey earned the nickname "Franchise", and received First Team All MEAC (2002-2004), Second Team All-American (2004) and was selected and started in the 2004 HBCU All Star Classic Game.

Torrey has also been a member of the Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals where he was coached by Ken Whisenhunt with the team finishing 8-8 and 2nd in the NFC West. New York Giants, Tennessee Titans, Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans. While at the Raiders, the team was looking to improve their 4-12 record and finished the season 3rd in the division which was the 1st time in 6 years they had finished higher than 4th place. Torrey earned a Super Bowl ring while playing for the Giants' in Super Bowl XLII.

In 2011, Torrey joined the Las Vegas Locos as an Offensive Tackle and Guard and served as team Captain. 2011 was the 3rd consecutive year this UFL team made it to the championship game.

Calais Campbell

Calais Malik Campbell (born September 1, 1986) is an American football defensive end for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at the University of Miami, and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

Jason McCourty

Jason McCourty (born August 13, 1987) is an American football cornerback for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the sixth round, 203rd overall, in the 2009 NFL Draft and has also played for the Cleveland Browns. He played college football at Rutgers.

Jim Hanifan

James Martin Michael Hanifan (born September 21, 1933 in Compton, California) is a longtime American football coach and former head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons. He compiled a career record of 39-53-1.

John Lott (American football)

John Lott (born May 9, 1964 in Denton, Texas) is a former NFL offensive tackle and current American football coach for the Los Angeles Chargers who became most famous as a strength and conditioning coach for several National Football League teams and for being the coach at the bench reps session at the NFL Scouting Combine. His "soundtrack" is very popular and the NFL Network puts a microphone on him during every workout.

He started as an offensive lineman for the University of North Texas and was named All-Conference twice and All-American his senior year. Lott was a team captain and was even the strongest man in school history. He was a brother of Theta Chi. He played two seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets before joining his alma mater at North Texas to oversee the eleven Varsity programs. In 1991, he was named strength and conditioning coach for the University of Houston where he stayed until 1996. A year later he was hired by the New York Jets where he was the strength and conditioning coach for eight seasons, from 1997 until 2004. He worked with Ken Whisenhunt on the Jets team in 2000. From 2005–2006 he was the strength and conditioning coach for the Cleveland Browns before being hired by the Cardinals in 2007. He was signed by the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017 as part of new coach Anthony Lynn's rebuilding of the team. Lott reunites with Ken Whisenhunt for the first time since working together with the Cardinals in 2013.

List of Arizona Cardinals head coaches

The Arizona Cardinals are a professional American football team based in Glendale, Arizona. They are a member of the Western Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The team began as the Morgan Athletic Club in 1898 in Chicago, Illinois. The team's second name was the Racine Normals, since it played at Normal Field on Racine Street. In 1901, they were renamed to the Racine Street Cardinals, a name that came from the University of Chicago jerseys that the team used, which were described as "Cardinal red". The team was established in Chicago in 1898 and was a charter member of the NFL in 1920. The team has played their home games at the University of Phoenix Stadium since 2006 and is the oldest franchise in the NFL.The team has moved to numerous cities during its history. After staying in Chicago from 1920 to 1959, it moved to St. Louis, Missouri and remained there from 1960 to 1987. It played in Tempe, Arizona, from 1988 to 2005, before eventually settling in Glendale, Arizona in 2006, where it now resides. Since 1920, two Cardinals coaches have won the NFL Championship: Norman Barry in 1925 and Jimmy Conzelman in 1947. Five other coaches—Don Coryell, Jim Hanifan, Vince Tobin, Ken Whisenhunt and Bruce Arians—have led the Cardinals to the playoffs, and in 2009 they went to the Super Bowl.There have been 40 head coaches for the Cardinals franchise since it became a professional team in 1920; fourteen of the team's coaches are former Cardinals players. Ernie Nevers and Jimmy Conzelman are the only coaches to have had more than one tenure with the team. Pop Ivy and Gene Stallings both coached the team during its move from one city to another. Cardinals coach Roy Andrews is tied for the lowest winning percentage among the team's coaches (.000), having lost the only game he coached, in 1931. Co-coach Walt Kiesling lost all 10 games he coached in 1943, when the team merged with the Steelers during World War II and was known as Card-Pitt. Co-coaches Ray Willsey, Ray Prochaska, and Chuck Drulis have the highest winning percentage among Cardinals coaches (1.000). The team's all-time leader in games coached is Ken Whisenhunt, who was hired on January 14, 2007, with 96. Whisenhunt was fired on December 31, 2012, after the Cardinals recorded a 5–11 record in 2012.The all-time leader in wins is Arians with 50, including one playoff victory. The all-time leader in wins is Bruce Arians with 50, including one playoff victory.

List of Tennessee Titans head coaches

The Tennessee Titans, previously known as the Houston Oilers, are a professional American football team based in Nashville, Tennessee. They are a member of the South division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The Tennessee Titans have had 18 head coaches in its franchise history. As the Houston Oilers based in Houston, Texas, the team began playing in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL). The Oilers won two AFL championships before joining the NFL as part of the AFL-NFL merger. The team relocated to Tennessee in 1997 and played in Memphis for one season before moving to Nashville. For two seasons, the team was known as the Tennessee Oilers before changing its name to the Titans in 1999.The Titans are currently searching for the next head coach after parting ways with Mike Mularkey, who was originally hired as tight ends coach in 2014, promoted to assistant head coach in 2015, and replaced Ken Whisenhunt on an interim basis after a 1-6 start in 2015. He was named full-time to the position in January 2016. In addition to Mularkey and Whisenhunt, The Titans have also been coached by Mike Munchak and Jeff Fisher, who led the Titans to their only Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV following the 1999 season.

Mike Mularkey

Michael Rene Mularkey (born November 19, 1961) is an American football coach and former player. He played college football for the University of Florida, and then nine seasons as a tight end for the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). He has since served as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans, the offensive coordinator for the Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons, and the tight ends coach for the Dolphins, Titans, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is currently the tight ends coach for the Falcons.

Pop Ivy

Lee Frank "Pop" Ivy (January 25, 1916 – May 17, 2003) was a football player and coach who was the only person to serve as a head coach in the National Football League, the American Football League and the Western Interprovincial Football Union.

Wesley Woodyard

Wesley Woodyard Jr. (born July 21, 1986) is an American football linebacker for the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League (NFL). He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Denver Broncos in 2008. He played college football for the University of Kentucky.

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