Around this time last year, Ken Whisenhunt was looking for his next job after being fired as coach of the Cardinals. Arizona had finished last in the NFC West, and it was clearly time for a change. For both sides.
The Cardinals hired Bruce Arians and nearly made the playoffs in 2013. Whisenhunt, meanwhile, resurrected his reputation by doing a terrific job as San Diego’s offensive coordinator, helping quarterback Philip Rivers to a comeback player of the year-type season.
Now comes the payoff for Whisenhunt, who is a hot candidate on the head-coaching front. Detroit, Minnesota, Tennessee and Cleveland are interested, and whenever the Chargers are done with their playoff run -- they face Denver in Sunday;s AFC divisional playoffs -- Whisenhunt will be a head coach once more.
Good for him. And good for whoever gets him, because he’s an excellent choice. Yes, things ended poorly in Arizona, but Vince Lombardi couldn’t have squeezed much more out of a team that didn’t have a legitimate quarterback. Like others who succeeded in their second go-round as a head coach -- think Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin and Andy Reid -- Whisenhunt figures to join that list very soon.
Word around the league is that Whisenhunt is the heavy favorite in Detroit, which is probably the best situation of the remaining openings. There’s a big-time quarterback in Matthew Stafford, who would benefit from an offensive-minded head coach, and there’s an emerging defense led by dominant tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
Chargers coach Mike McCoy doesn’t believe Whisenhunt’s interviews will be a distraction for Sunday's game.
“There is one focus right now and that’s to win the next game,” said McCoy, who interviewed last year for head-coaching vacancies during the playoffs. “As coaches, you understand what we’re playing for next week and that’s the first thing Ken said to me and that’s the first thing I said to people last year and the whole organization. The commitment you have to the current organization you’re working for.”