With coach Ken Whisenhunt becoming the next coach of the Tennessee Titans, Whisenhunt and G.M. Ruston Webster will have two critical questions to address.
First, who’ll be the quarterback? Second, what will they do with running back Chris Johnson?
Whisenhunt thrived in Arizona when veteran Kurt Warner served as the starter. After Warner retired, Whisenhunt and former G.M. Rod Graves gave up millions of ultimately unearned dollars (and a second-round pick) to get Kevin Kolb. Whisenhunt and Graves likewise swung and missed on various rookies and other assorted journeymen before both were fired.
In Tennessee, Whisenhunt will have to decide whether he thinks he can get the most out of Jake Locker, the eighth overall pick in 2011, and whether Whisenhunt can find a way to keep him healthy. If it’s not Locker, will Whisenhunt target someone in free agency or the draft? Will Ryan Fitzpatrick get a chance to be the guy?
Regardless of the decision that is made, Whisenhunt’s success or lack of it will hinge on whether he can find a productive quarterback — and whether he can get the most out of him.
Meanwhile, running back Chris Johnson has made it clear that if he’s not “the guy,” he wants out. So will Whisenhunt make Johnson the workhorse or pull the plug on a contract that will pay Johnson $8 million this year?
Whisenhunt will have plenty of other questions to answer over the coming days and weeks. But none are more important than the selection of a quarterback — and the handling of a franchise running back who has earned $30 million over the last three seasons.