Cardinals need to clip Whisenhunt’s feathers

There’s a time in every sports organization when ties need to be cut with coaches, players or management.

For the Arizona Cardinals, it’s once again that time to cut ties.

This time, not with a player or management — at least not yet — but the head coach, Ken Whisenhunt.

The Cardinals brought Whisenhunt on as the head coach in 2007 after he spent six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Granted, Whisenhunt led the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl in franchise history in his second season, but the credit easily could be given to offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterback Kurt Warner.

Going onto his sixth season with Arizona, Whisenhunt has had roller-coaster seasons since his Super Bowl XLIII run and the departure of Haley and Warner, leading you to assume they held the “cards” to Arizona’s success in the desert.

A season after the Super Bowl appearance and Haley’s resignation, the Cardinals produced a 10-6 season, one game better than the previous year. That 2009 season was the last time the Cardinals saw even a glimpse of the playoffs, as the dry spell began in the desert.

Whisenhunt’s Cardinals essentially flip-flopped their record, going 5-11 in 2010 before finishing 8-8 in 2011. As it stands right now, the Cardinals may be lucky to win another game this season with their remaining schedule, thus producing the worst record since 2003.

Unless Whisenhunt somehow turns the season around, and the offense decides to produce in order to cause a few upsets, he needs to go.

If Whisenhunt doesn’t go, defensive coordinator Ray Horton will. Horton is on the hunt for a head coaching position somewhere in the NFL, as he already interviewed with the St. Louis Rams in the offseason. He dramatically changed one of the NFL’s worst defenses into one of the most efficient.

A defensive-minded head coach has proved to work wonders in the NFL throughout the years. Coaches like the Harbaugh brothers, Bill Belichick, Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin and Jeff Fischer all were defensive-minded. The other argument to that is that Whisenhunt was also a defensive coach in his past.

Offensive coordinator Mike Miller can tag along with Whisenhunt in packing their bags, as Miller isn’t getting the job done either. The play calling is killing the Cardinals.

The systems put in place look similar to the Kurt Warner days, and that just doesn’t work for quarterbacks Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and rookie Ryan Lindley. No one will ever be a Kurt Warner, so stop trying to instill someone into those situations.

Kolb can truly become a starter that can lead the Cardinals to a successful record and possibly the playoffs. If asked that question at the beginning of the season, the answer would have been totally different. But the Kolb that showed up for the first four games of the season showed discipline with the football.

The Cardinals were winning games by taking care of the football and not making turnovers, while playing lights-out defense. The defense hasn’t diminished a bit, but it’s the offense once again plaguing the ‘Red Birds’.

Without the firing of Whisenhunt, the Cardinals will lose much more than the double-digit amount of games this season. They’ll lose one of the top defensive coordinators in the NFL.

Team President Michael Bidwill has a tough decision yet again this season, and the fans will once again curse the Bidwill family if the wrong selection is made.

Cardinals’ fans enjoyed Whisenhunt’s tenure in the desert and will be forever grateful for what he brought to the franchise in Arizona. However, at some point, every team needs to move on, and the Cardinals’ time is now.

 

Reach the columnist at msterrel@asu.edu