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Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Joe Gibbs sold on Ken Whisenhunt

By John Keim

Joe Gibbs wouldn't hesitate to hire one coach -- and it's one he knows well.

The former Washington Redskins coach told the Detroit News that he's sold on Ken Whisenhunt, who played for Gibbs from 1989-90 (along with Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew).

Gibbs, of course, was talking about Whisenhunt in relation to the Lions job. But the Redskins have interest in the San Diego offensive coordinator as well. Whisenhunt took Arizona to the Super Bowl as a head coach. He should be an intriguing coach for the Redskins as well, just because of his work with quarterbacks in the past. But Whisenhunt's familiarity with Mayhew could make Detroit a good landing spot for him. The Lions would like to keep their defensive staff intact and if they hire Whisenhunt, he'd likely trust Mayhew that is indeed the right decision.

"Ken is very smart and he's a people person. As a player, he was one of those guys that worked extremely hard and made the most out of his talent and ability," Gibbs said.

What the Hall of Fame coach liked is that Whisenhunt played H-back for him, a position that required him to be smarter than most players.

"The H-back in our system had to do a lot of thinking on the move," Gibbs said. "Very honestly, Ken was very bright when it came to football. He understood everything we were trying to do and he understood what the defenses were trying to do.

"You get that with Ken. And the added thing you get with him, he was a leader. He was somebody the players respected and I think that's very important."

Here's what else Gibbs liked about Whisenhunt:

"The advantage you have with Ken is he's got experience; he's been to Super Bowls. And I want to emphasize this -- you've got somebody here that solves one-third of the problem. When you go to hire a coach in the NFL, you want to hire somebody who solves either the offense, defense or special-teams problem. With Ken, you have someone who solves the offensive part of things."

"The most important thing for a coach in a new situation is to be able to hire good people. That was one of the most important things for me. I made sure I surrounded myself with great assistant coaches. Ken has that experience; he's done that. He's hired a lot of people and he knows a lot of people."