The Steelers have had three coaches since 1969. In that same period of time, the Cardinals have had 14.
On average, that’s one new coach every three years. And for a franchise that has existed since 1920, only Jim Hanifan has finished six seasons as the team’s head coach.
Ken Whisenhunt will match Hanifan this year, if Whisenhunt finishes the season. And while Whisenhunt likely will, the question becomes whether he will become the longest-tenured coach in franchise history by coaching to season seven.
Helping Whisenhunt is the fact that he has taken the franchise to unprecedented heights. The 2008 playoffs began with the team’s second postseason win since the Truman administration and finished with a Super Bowl berth — and very nearly a Lombardi Trophy.
Hurting Whisenhunt, as Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic explains, is the fact that the quarterback situation has been bungled since the retirement of Kurt Warner. In 2011, the Cards went all in with Kevin Kolb, giving up a second-round pick, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and millions that Kolb has yet to earn. The clusterfudge was compounded in March when another $7 million was paid to Kolb.
Meanwhile, the team arguably has the worst top-to-bottom depth chart in the league, which means that the Cardinals either don’t know how to pick quarterbacks or how to develop them, or both.
If the six-game losing streak gets extended to seven today by a Rams team that hasn’t won since starting the Cardinals’ current slide, the whispers will increase as to whether the team will fire Whisenhunt or G.M. Rod Graves, who has been with the team since 1997 and who has weathered many storms.
When going all in and losing, it’s time to leave the table. The only question is whether the chips put at risk belonged to Whisenhunt, Graves, or both.
The Cardinals’ low national profile is often a bad thing. When it comes to the turmoil that could be coming, it could be a good thing. As the media focuses on whether the Jets will clean house, the Cardinals can quietly ponder what it will take to get their house back in order. In the end, it could result in a new coach, a new G.M., or both.