Posted January 13, 2014

Tennessee Titans hire Ken Whisenhunt to be next head coach

Tennessee Titans
Ken Whisenhunt will bring his knack for getting the best of his quarterbacks to the Titans' head coaching position. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Ken Whisenhunt will bring his knack for getting the best of his quarterbacks to the Titans’ head coaching position. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

In what could be considered a mild surprise, Ken Whisenhunt will be named the Tennessee Titans’ next head coach, per multiple reports. That news comes after days of speculation that the ex-Chargers offensive coordinator was the frontrunner for the Detroit Lions job.

Whisenhunt interviewed with the Lions, Titans and Cleveland Browns last week, while also helping to prep San Diego for a playoff game against Denver. League rules required any teams interested in plucking Whisenhunt from the Chargers’ staff to hold off until the AFC wild card was eliminated from the postseason. Once that occurred Sunday, the Titans moved quickly.

The 51-year-old Whisenhunt was in high demand due to the relative success he delivered during six seasons as the Cardinals’ head coach. He posted just a 45-51 record during that stretch but led the team to a pair of playoff appearances and one NFC title before QB Kurt Warner retired — a decision that left the Cardinals floundering at the all-important position for the duration of Whisenhunt’s tenure.

COVER-TWO: Grading Whisenhunt to Titans, other 2014 coaching hires

Whisenhunt’s work with Warner, as well as with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh (Whisenhunt was the O.C. there from 2004-06) and this season helping Philip Rivers’ revival, stood out as one of the crown jewels on his resume. In Tennessee, he’s likely to inherit Jake Locker as his starting QB. Locker played well early in 2013, posting a 4-3 record, but then suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury. He is expected to be ready in time for training camp, if not before.

The Titans reportedly conducted a second interview with head-coaching candidate Mike Zimmer on Monday, ESPN reported. Meanwhile, reports out of Detroit at about the same time indicated that the Lions had a private plane ready to fly to California for another meeting with Whisenhunt.

Somewhere along that timeline, Whisenhunt and the Titans obviously moved forward with their own plans.

Where does that leave Detroit now? ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported shortly after the Whisenhunt-to-Tennessee move broke that the franchise has ramped up talks with current Ravens offensive coordinator and former Colts head coach Jim Caldwell. Tony Dungy wrote on Twitter Sunday that he “hoped” the Lions chose Caldwell for their gig — Caldwell was Dungy’s hand-picked successor in Indianapolis, only to lose his job after a 2-14 season brought on by Peyton Manning’s neck injury.

“I know the Lions also want discipline and good character in the locker room,” Dungy told ESPN. “I’m not saying their other candidates can’t achieve those things but those are Jim’s strengths with his background, especially from his influence under Joe Paterno at Penn State and hopefully in our program in the NFL.”

Whether Whisenhunt landed in Tennessee or Detroit, he figured to find a promising situation. The Titans are coming off a 7-9 season under Mike Munchak, but they suffered a number of close losses — including two to the AFC South champion Colts, one to the Jaguars and an overtime to decision against Arizona. The Lions had a matching 7-9 mark.

The Titans do face an offseason that could be filled with changes to the roster. Starting safety Bernard Pollard and cornerback Alterraun Verner are set to be free agents, for starters, while Chris Johnson could be released in a move that would save the team several million dollars.

Tennessee holds the No. 11 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. In the latest Audibles mock, that selection landed Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley.

51 comments
BarrySoetoro
BarrySoetoro

Peyton made Caldwell and Dungy. Can you say 2and 14 without Peyton??

MMoney0021
MMoney0021

Teams should not be able to interview coaching candidates until the Monday after the Super Bowl.  This guy interviewed for not 1, not 2, but 3 head coaching vacancies!  Any coincidence that SD's offense had 0 points through 3 quarters this past weekend?  May or may not have had a huge impact but a coach who's team is still in the playoffs should be spending their entire football related time on the opponent and putting together a game plan, not preparing for 3 different interviews the week of a playoff game.  

btcvsolo
btcvsolo

Other than inheriting the talent on the present roster, who would want to coach Detroit, much less LIVE there?

juan.triumph1
juan.triumph1

Meanwhile in a complete act of total desperation, the Lions may resurrect Jim Caldwell's corpse to prop up on their sidelines for a couple of years.

GTT
GTT

I guess Mike Zimmer's going to be on the outside looking in again.

WayneWaterman
WayneWaterman

Arizona 2012 record 5-11. Fire Whisenhunt and the very next year the Cardinals are 10-6. Titan fans I would be concerned.

airmjbsanders
airmjbsanders

What does is say @ DET that Wisenhunt, an offensive coach, chose the freakin Titans over them?

jj55
jj55

He's all yours, Titans! You get the genius who tried to run the ball into the teeth of the Denver defense with a patchwork O-line, a one-legged running back, and a midget as #2 ball carrier. It only took him 3 quarters to figure out that wasn't working, at which point Rivers put up 17 on the Broncos in the final period.

Good luck, you'll need it!

slickwilly
slickwilly

Locker's not a bad quarterback. If he can stay healthy, the Titans might surprise next season.

Joe R2
Joe R2

Well, it's a better option than Detoilet...

NoQNoSuperBowl
NoQNoSuperBowl

Can we all agree he made the right decision not going to the Browns?

stupidflanders19
stupidflanders19

I wonder if his three job interviews during a playoff week had anything to do with San Diego not scoring in the first 47 minutes of the Denver game. 

SandersonKramer
SandersonKramer

Whisenhunt did a great job with Kurt Warner for which I give him the ultimate props but he totally messed up the QB position after Warner retired for which there should be no excuse. He should have stuck with Matt Leinart for the season instead of dumping him for the other Bozos. If Leinart pan out during the season, he should have then benched or released him. I also don't like the way he let the Offensive Coordinator in the Superbowl go conservative passing in the first half given the Cardinals crappy defense. 

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

The Lions should be a promising team. But they never seem to fulfill that promise.

fmfrijoles
fmfrijoles

Who wants to be the LIONS are in full panic mode right about now???

Willmac7496
Willmac7496

Very good hire for the titans.  And for Whisenhunt, Tennessee was the best of the bad franchises which offered him a job.  And really, playing every year on Thanksgiving isn't that great Lions fans.  

nyhoukcdal
nyhoukcdal

@MMoney0021 Half agree.  Teams that are eliminated should be free to start interviewing immediately.  Coaches that are still coaching should not be available to interview until their team is out.  That's the price of success.  If an eliminated team really wants you, they'll wait until you're finished.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@MMoney0021Are you aware that SD and DEN had already played twice this year, so they probably knew each others tendencies pretty well?   Darrell Bevell and Dan Quinn have been talking to teams about head coaching jobs and the Seahawks did alright.  A couple of 49ers assistants also were interviewing, reportedly on the day before the game against Carolina.   The coaches and players are professionals - they can get their game planning done without having to be together 24 hours each day.

scBlais
scBlais

@btcvsoloDon't have to live in Detroit "proper", I'm sure an NFL coach could afford to live in Grosse Pointe. 

Keats1821
Keats1821

Palmer makes up for quite a bit of that increase. Not that he is the greatest QB, but he is somewhat competent at the very least. And you couldn't say that with the guys Wiz had in 2012. The evidence does seem to point toward him being able to coach, though.

Evan
Evan

@airmjbsanders Probably that he likes the rising play of Locker over the falling play of Stafford.

BlackSession1
BlackSession1

@jj55 Yeah, because that overshadows everything he did in the regular season with a bunch of substandard receivers, Allen excluded. Must be fun being you.

d.eversole13
d.eversole13

@Joe R2 Are you that ignorant to think the talent on the Titans roster is better to work with than that on the Lions?

Cian
Cian

I mean, really, just think of the possibilities:

Training camp headlines: "Whiz says, 'We won't be anyone's number two.'"

After their first, belated victory: "Whiz and the Browns log their first win!"

As the cold grip of Erie descends on Clevelands heart: "Whiz watches the season inevitably circle the bowl."

ki.nazir72
ki.nazir72

@NoQNoSuperBowl That's funny and yes, I agree with that.  Some Franchises are curse regardless of where they move...

Marty2
Marty2

@NoQNoSuperBowl I'm a Lions fan and I didn't want him to coach my team.  He's a retread coach - he didn't do much in Arizona, and it is unlikely he really is responsible for any success the Chargers had.  (And they weren't all that good!)

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@stupidflanders19Yeah, he wanted to keep his playbook secret from next year's potential opponents.   Where do you people come up with this stuff?

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

@SandersonKramer Matt  Leinart? Are you being serious. Leinart was NEVER an NFL quarterback. The quicker you cut him the better off you are. His teammates had no respect for him. He didn't belong in the league. 

davetheG
davetheG

@Willmac7496Detroit has a better team than Titans, Browns. Surprising Detroit not hired anyone. They have a decent team that was just very poorly coached, no discipline.

Papi Del Negro..... Dont ask
Papi Del Negro..... Dont ask

I agree good hire for Titans but Detroit would have been a better fit. You cant trust Jake Locker to be healthy, Chris Johnson is on some other you know what and his production has suffered, and the receiving core is lackluster. In Detroit he could have disciplined Stafford and his mechanics into an all pro qb, a deadly combination of rbs in Bush and Bell, and Megatron... enough said. He will see if he made the right choice but I dont think he did.

MMoney0021
MMoney0021

@nyhoukcdal @MMoney0021 I hear what you are saying, but bottom line is, you cannot negotiate with any players until the free agency period begins.  Factor in that the draft has now been moved to May, and I have a hard time agreeing with this post.  2 more weeks to interview should be mandated.  What is the difference if a coach begins his offseason preparation on Feb 3rd or January 14th?  Again, the fact that the draft has now been moved to May makes my point even more valid.

MMoney0021
MMoney0021

@JoeCabot @MMoney0021 Listen, if players are not allowed to begin negotiating with other teams until free agency begins, I do not think coaches should be able to negotiate either.  The coaches whose teams are still in the playoffs are at a disadvantage and it is also not fair to the team still playing that someone in their organization is dedicating time to another team in the most critical weeks of their season.  I am not for this at all.  


Take a look at the SD example.  You countered with other examples, however for most of 3 quarters, I questioned a lot of the play calling as well as the game plan in general.  Little to no adjustments were made until the 4th quarter and it took a few injuries to Denver's defense to really get going.  Whether it had an impact or not, who knows, but again, it is hard for me to get behind interviewing for other jobs during the most important weeks of the season.  

TheVon
TheVon

@Keats1821 Whiz cannot choose quarterback talent.  That became very obvious after Warner retired.  But given a good QB, I think he can make them better.

TheVon
TheVon

@Marty2 @NoQNoSuperBowl Whiz has to get a lot of credit for what he did in AZ.  He didn't screw it up or let management screw it up.  That never happened before in Arizona Cardinals history. It has made not sucking an actual possibility for a team that was resigned to bottom dwelling.  

Joe R2
Joe R2

@Marty2 @NoQNoSuperBowl 


But instead you'll land an even worse retread coach in Jim Caldwell.  Enjoy returning to the cellar next year...

stupidflanders19
stupidflanders19

@JoeCabot um, no. The point is every hour he spent interviewing that week was one less hour he spent preparing for the Broncos. The offense looked totally unprepared in the first 3 quarter of the game. He was being paid by the Chargers to coach their offense, not spend time on other job prospects. He should have declined all interviews until the Chargers were eliminated, similar to what the current Denver OC is doing. We come up with this stuff by figuring out the number of hours in a day and subtract non-Charger activity. Pretty simple concept.

Evan
Evan

@Papi Del Negro..... Dont ask I doubt the Titans stick with CJ.  As for Locker, he has one year left on his rookie contract.  I wouldn't be shocked to see the Titans pick up a QB in the middle of the draft in the event Locker doesn't pan out.  But I fully expect Locker to pan out.

BosephHeyden
BosephHeyden

@Papi Del Negro..... Dont ask I don't think Tennessee is going to count on those two.  They're going to need a new QB/RB combo sooner rather than later, and getting two new guys would let Whisenhunt mold them.

Bush and Megatron are established, Bell could get even better next year, but he could get worse, too, and Stafford...he's a project.  And he may not be a project that pans out.

Walking into a good situation right now, yeah, you go with Detroit.  But if a head coach wants to mold a team in the way he wants it to be, Tennessee is an ideal situation for that.

d.eversole13
d.eversole13

@NoQNoSuperBowl @Marty2 Caldwell had one year in which he lost Manning and had no real option at a number 2 QB... not saying he is going to turn things around in Detroit for sure, but that you have no real history of work to say he won't.