Texans candidate watch: Ken Whisenhunt

December, 8, 2013
12/08/13
1:32
PM ET

We've already talked about Lovie Smith, the former Chicago Bears head coach whom Houston Texans owner Bob McNair discussed as a possible candidate to replace Gary Kubiak during Friday's news conference.

Sunday we learn the Texans plan to interview Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt as soon as possible, through a report from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Whisenhunt and Texans general manager Rick Smith got to know each other well when both were part of the league's competition committee.

"If you look at the record, defensive coordinators have been more successful than offensive coordinators, but not by a large percentage," McNair said on Friday. "It’s going to be based more on the individual. We’re looking for a coach that is bright, ethical, whose culture fits in with the culture of our organization, innovative, flexible, able to make adjustments, works with great energy and enthusiasm and very positive in his approach. Surely that person is out there and we’ll find that person."

Is Whisenhunt that person?

Some background:
  • Former player? Whisenhunt had a modest NFL playing career. He was drafted in the 12th round in 1985 and spent time with the Falcons, Redskins and Jets.
  • Coaching debut: 1995 as an assistant at Vanderbilt.
  • NFL coaching debut: 1997 as the Ravens' tight ends coach.
  • Significant stop: Steelers offensive coordinator in 2004, 2005 and 2006, during which time the Steelers won Super Bowl XL. The Steelers' passing offense improved from 28th to ninth in yards gained during his tenure as their offensive coordinator.
  • Head-coaching experience: Whisenhunt made his head-coaching debut at age 45 with the Arizona Cardinals. He spent six seasons with the Cardinals, including a 2008 season that ended in a Super Bowl appearance. He went 45-51 as Arizona's head coach and was 4-2 in the playoffs.
  • How did it end? The Cardinals went 5-11, 8-8 and 5-11 in his last three seasons as the head coach. Their unsettled quarterback situation after Kurt Warner was a major factor. He and general manager Rod Graves were fired on the same day at the end of the 2012 season.

Tania Ganguli

ESPN Houston Texans reporter

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