Candidate profiling: Ken Whisenhunt


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- We continue to examine candidates to replace Mike Munchak as head coach of The Tennessee Titans.

Ken Whisenhunt, offensive coordinator, San Diego Chargers

Age: 51

College: Tight end/H-back, Georgia Tech, 1980-84

Pro playing experience: Tight end, Atlanta Falcons, 1985-88; Washington Redskins, 1989-1990; New York Jets, 1991-93.

College coaching resume: Vanderbilt, special teams and tight ends, 1995-96.

Pro coaching resume: Baltimore, tight ends, 1997-98; Cleveland, special teams, 1999; New York Jets, tight ends, 2000; Pittsburgh, three years tight ends and three as offensive coordinator, 2001-06; Arizona, head coach, 2007-12; San Diego, offensive coordinator, 2013-present.

Titans’ connection: None known.

Influences: Has worked for Brian Billick, Al Groh, Bill Cowher, Mike McCoy.

See him talk: Here’s Whisenhunt talking to local media on Jan. 2, when he said “it comes down to cutting it loose.”

Also a candidate for: Detroit, Cleveland.

Fun fact: Whisenhunt is an avid golfer and a native of Augusta, Ga. As a teenager, he worked the 18th hole manual scoreboard at the Masters.

Chargers coach Mike McCoy says: “His No. 1 goal right now is to find a way to win this game (in Denver). I’ll say this though, whatever does come up, he deserves it. He’s done an outstanding job here. And he’s been a huge help to me. I owe him a lot for what he’s done this first year with me.”

Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Cardinals reporter: “I think Ken Whisenhunt learned what it takes to be a head coach in the NFL more so during his last three years in Arizona than his first three. Whisenhunt was blessed with a top-notch quarterback in Pittsburgh and then again with Kurt Warner in Arizona, but when Warner retired, Whisenhunt learned about the brutal reality of the NFL: If you don't have a capable signal-caller, life can get rough. Real rough. During his last season with the Cardinals, he began to lose the locker room because of the way he treated the players. He lost control of meetings and discipline became an issue. One would think Whisenhunt learned a lot about being a head coach in Arizona and he'd do things differently, but the question comes, can he admit his mistakes and go into his next job humble and hungry?

"As far as his coaching style, Whisenhunt was a players’ coach to a fault. For example, with the 2012 quarterback competition, Whisenhunt didn't decide on a starting quarterback until after the final preseason game, letting the players dictate who would win the competition instead of naming a starter. The one issue with Whisenhunt is he holds grudges and it becomes obvious, such as he did with Beanie Wells. He does adapt to the offense he has, which, in Tennessee, means he'll commit to the run, but he'll also work a few wonders with a good quarterback.”

Eric D. Williams, ESPN Chargers reporter: “Whisenhunt is a good communicator focused on getting his team to execute at a high level and play with confidence. He’s detail-oriented, but also adaptable in the sense that he can build offensive and defensive philosophies that best fit a player’s skill set. I think he’s learned from his mistakes in Arizona and is ready for another bite at the apple as a head coach.

"Specifically, I think Whisenhunt would be great for Jake Locker. He has a proven track record of taking quarterbacks to the next level, including Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, Kurt Warner in Arizona and now Philip Rivers here in San Diego. Whisenhunt’s emphasis on the short passing game should fit Locker’s skill set. San Diego also runs a zone-based running scheme, which would allow Locker to use his strength as a runner to get outside the pocket on bootleg play action and throw on the run.

“Finally, there’s some familiarity with Tennessee’s personnel department. Titans general manager Ruston Webster faced Whisenhunt twice a year when he worked as Seattle’s vice president of player personnel, and he served as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. So Webster likely has an intimate understanding of Whisenhunt’s weekly preparation and overall coaching philosophies.”