Ken Whisenhunt

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Ken Whisenhunt
Date of birth February 28, 1962 (1962-02-28) (age 52)
Place of birth Augusta, Georgia
Position(s) Head coach, Tight end
College Georgia Tech
NFL Draft 1985 / Round 12 / Pick 313
Regular season 39-39-0
Postseason 4-2
Career record 43-41-0
Championships won 2008 NFC Championship
Playing stats Pro Football Reference
Playing stats NFL.com
Playing stats DatabaseFootball
Coaching stats Pro Football Reference
1985-1988
1989-1990
1991-1993
Atlanta Falcons
Washington Redskins
New York Jets
1995-1996
1997-1998
1999
2000
2001-2003
2004-2006
2007-
Vanderbilt (ST/TE)
Baltimore Ravens (TE)
Cleveland Browns (ST)
New York Jets (TE)
Pittsburgh Steelers (TE)
Pittsburgh Steelers (OC)
Arizona Cardinals (HC)

Kenneth "Ken" Moore Whisenhunt (born February 28, 1962 in Augusta, Georgia) is the American football head coach of the Arizona Cardinals NFL football team, leading them to the first Super Bowl in ream history during the 2008 season. Before that, he was known for his well-planned offensive plays, including the success he had with the Pittsburgh Steelers in his 3 years as their offensive coordinator under Bill Cowher, in which the Steeers won Super Bowl XL during the 2005 season.

Playing career[change | edit source]

After attending the Academy of Richmond County in Augusta, Georgia for high school, Whisenhunt played college football at Georgia Tech (1980-84),[1][2] where he graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering. During his senior season, he was an honorable mention All-American. He also finished first team all-ACC during his final two college seasons.

Whisenhunt's career as a player included 4 years (1985-88) as a tight end with the Atlanta Falcons, who drafted him in the twelfth round, and then short periods 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 blocker.

Coaching career[change | edit source]

Early career[change | edit source]

He began his coaching career at Vanderbilt University, where he coached special teams, tight ends and H-backs for the Commodores from 1995–96. In 1997, he returned to the NFL as the tight ends coach for the Baltimore Ravens. Whisenhunt changed teams very often 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[change | edit source]

In 2001, Whisenhunt was hired by the Steelers to coach their tight ends. He was able to make players such as Mark Bruener and Jay Riemersma, both considered no longer at their best, into great blocking backs. He became offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh for the 2004 season after Mike Mularkey became the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Whisenhunt had instant success in his role. While Mularkey was known for creating exciting trick plays, Whisenhunt became more of a cautious play-caller, whose well-timed trick plays surprised the Steelers' opponents because they were very unlike the conservative Pittsburgh run game.

Whisenhunt's most famous moment 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 get a big lead, which they did not give away.

Arizona Cardinals[change | edit source]

On January 14, 2007 the Arizona Cardinals hired Whisenhunt as their new head coach. The contract he received promised him an average of $2.5 million annually. Whisenhunt had also interviewed for the head coaching position with the Steelers, Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins. In February 2006, the Oakland Raiders were interviewing him to become their new head coach, but Whisenhunt ended the talks before a deal could be offered.[3] The Cardinals were better in Whisenhunt's first season, finishing with 8 wins and 8 losses after finishing with 5 wins and 11 losses the two seasons before that and losing 10 or more games in seven of the previous eight campaigns. It was their first non-losing season since 1998, even though they still failed to make the playoffs.

Before his second season, Whisenhunt made the experienced Kurt Warner his starting quarterback. In Whisenhunt's first season, 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 was a good decision because Warner put up good numbers in leading the Cardinals to a 9 win and 7 loss regular season record in the 2008 season. This was good enough to win NFC West Division, the Cardinals' first division title since 1975, when the team played in St. Louis, Missouri. Whisenhunt's second season was also the Cardinals' first time in the playoffs since 1998. After beating 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 on January 18, 2009 and advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history to face the Pittsburgh Steelers. This gave Whisenhunt an opportunity to play against the team he used to be the offensive coordinator of. The Cardinals lost the game 27-23. Whisenhunt credited the Steelers' players and staff with the win, but also said penalties were one of the reasons for the loss.

Head coaching record[change | edit source]

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
ARZ 2007 8 8 0 .500 2nd in NFC West - - - -
ARZ 2008 9 7 0 .560 1st in NFC West 3 1 .750 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
Total[4] 17 15 0 .530 3 1 .750

Coaching tree[change | edit source]

Whisenhunt has worked on the staff of four National Football League coaches. They are:

Whisenhunt has had one future National Football League coach work under him. He was:

Personal[change | edit source]

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

References[change | edit source]

  1. Bretherton, William (2006-09-01). "Humble start for Whisenhunt". The Technique. http://www.nique.net/issues/2006-09-01/sports/2. Retrieved 2007-03-28.
  2. Scott Michaux Coach takes pressure in stride, Augusta Chronicle, January 28, 2009. Retrieved 01-28-2009
  3. "Raiders without Russell in opener". National Football League via Associated Press. 2008-04-11 (written 2007). http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/preview;jsessionid=4264059C0054F0150445F956C7444AC6?game_id=29464&displayPage=tab_preview&season=2007&week=PRE1. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  4. "Kenneth Moore Whisenhunt". Pro Football Reference.com. 2008. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/coaches/WhisKe0.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-18.

Other websites[change | edit source]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Mike Mularkey
Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Coordinator
2004-2006
Succeeded by
Bruce Arians
Preceded by
Dennis Green
Arizona Cardinals Head Coach
2007-
Succeeded by
Incumbent