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Whisenhunt want to kick-start San Diego’s running game


While watching the replay of Super Bowl XLIII late last night on NFL Network, Florio Jr. saw a shot of Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt on the sideline and asked, “Whatever happened to him?”

It took some time to explain it. When Kurt Warner retired after the 2009 season, the Cardinals struggled at quarterback in 2010, went all in for Kevin Kolb in 2011, and nothing worked. After 2012, the Cardinals fired Whisenhunt, who matched Jim Hanifan as the longest-tenured coach in franchise history.

A year in San Diego as offensive coordinator got Whisenhunt another head-coaching job, in Tennessee. But then Whisenhunt got not nearly enough time with a potential franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota before being dumped, again.

Whisenhunt is now back in San Diego, as offensive coordinator. And while he’s been reunited with a true franchise quarterback, Whisenhunt knows that success requires more than a competent passing game. Whisenhunt recently told his new-old team’s official website that the top priority for 2016 will be developing a strong running game.

“[T]he one thing that stands out is we need to run the football better than we did last year,” Whisenhunt said. “There is no blame associated there, as there are always factors that are involved. But that is probably the biggest thing we have to do, because then your play action builds off of that, your time of possession increases where you can control the ball and you are in better third-down situations.  All of those things tie in together. Now, it’s hard to say you can improve on all of those things significantly in the offseason because there are no pads, but I think you can lay the groundwork for what you are going to do and how you are going to do it.  That will carry over into training camp. . . . You can do so many things when you are blessed with a quarterback like Philip Rivers. We’ve got to be able to do things that will complement him, and a good running game is one of those that we have to get better at.”

Whisenhunt is counting on 2015 first-rounder Melvin Gordon to develop into a solid option. Whisenhunt said he’s not panicking about Gordon’s fumbling issues, pointing to Tiki Barber as a guy who overcame those struggles.

“The important thing for us is what does [Gordon] do well from a run game perspective?” Whisenhunt said. “Is it a power/counter scheme, or is it a zone scheme? What are his strengths, and how do they fit with us? How can we put him in those situations? I think it is important he gets reps, and comfortable with the courses he is taking. Last year, he didn’t get a chance to be exposed to that, so it will be easier for him with us having him for the whole offseason. He is also a good receiver, and catches the ball well out of the backfield. I’m excited about what he is going to be, and I am looking forward to that.”

Chargers fans have been looking forward to it for nearly a year, and if Whisenhunt can unlock it he could lay the foundation for a third shot at coaching a team of his own.

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23 Responses to “Whisenhunt want to kick-start San Diego’s running game”
  1. doctorrustbelt says: Feb 14, 2016 11:54 AM

    DIPLOMATIC: ken whisenhunt wasn’t dealt a good hand

    ACCURATE: ken whisenhunt is an overrated coaching commodity

    Seriously… whisenhunt took over a 7-9 Tennessee team and turned them into a 2-14 team (In 2015… Tennessee went 3-13 team – 1-6 under whisenhunt).


  2. ehsguy72 says: Feb 14, 2016 12:04 PM

    How this guy even is mentioned as a head coach is mind numbing. Warner and only Warner was responsible for his success in AZ. His ceiling is as a Offensive Coordinator, nothing more.

  3. typicalnipple says: Feb 14, 2016 12:43 PM

    Everybody says he is overrated. These are the same people that put down Big John Football.

  4. bamabrad1970 says: Feb 14, 2016 12:59 PM

    His system kills QBs, Mettenberger was lost last year and Mariota had already been knocked out this year and he still wasn’t adjusting things to protect him so ownership rightfully pulled the trigger on him. Stop with this not enough time stuff…

  5. joetoronto says: Feb 14, 2016 1:14 PM

    typicalnipple says:
    Feb 14, 2016 12:43 PM
    Everybody says he is overrated. These are the same people that put down Big John Football.
    Buddy, you’ve been trying to put this “Big John Football” thing over for a long time now and even a blind man could see it’s not working.

    Seriously, it’s time to move on.

  6. mongo3401 says: Feb 14, 2016 1:29 PM

    Before SD can make its running game better it needs an offensive line. Of which, they do not have.

  7. remembertheagenda says: Feb 14, 2016 1:33 PM

    Much like Gruden in Tampa Bay, Whisenhunt’s success in AZ was due to the team Denny Green built getting a chance to gel.

    And much like Gruden, the more of his fingerprints that got on the team, the worse teams got.


  8. noteamforlosangeles says: Feb 14, 2016 2:12 PM

    Getting drafted by a Whisenhunt coached team is every college punter’s dream…

  9. ebhaynz says: Feb 14, 2016 2:16 PM

    It’s easy to look like a great coach when you have OUTSTANDING talent like Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin!

  10. linemanguy74 says: Feb 14, 2016 2:44 PM

    Chargers big mistake, drafting a running back out of WI.

  11. badbabyjane says: Feb 14, 2016 3:36 PM

    Why do teams keep hiring this guy?

  12. leftypointspread says: Feb 14, 2016 3:56 PM

    If they want to help the run it starts with the O line.

  13. itswhereyourmindsat says: Feb 14, 2016 4:03 PM

    We need a dope fullback

  14. draftrobot says: Feb 14, 2016 4:28 PM

    Strange using a 1st round draft pick on a running back didn’t help the team’s running game.

  15. badmoonrison says: Feb 14, 2016 4:46 PM

    Ken is another one of those coaches ala Fisher, Kelly (who should go back to the college ranks), Rex and Pagano who you just scratch your head and say, how the heck do these guys still have jobs? And making millions doing so, no less. Im actually happy Ken was rehired by SD because I know my Raiders will probably sweep them again as a result. In general, not always but often, rehiring a fired coach backfires.

  16. THX 138 says: Feb 14, 2016 4:55 PM

    Below average Rb and a horrible Ol.

  17. z0inks says: Feb 14, 2016 5:11 PM

    Good OC…terrible QB-killer HC. This decade’s Mike Martz.

  18. suhmonster90 says: Feb 14, 2016 6:00 PM

    How can Warner be the only caveat to his success when the likes of Fitzgerald and Boldin were also in the conversation?

    The Chargers need a run game, which is why they spent a 1st rd pick on a RB. This one needs help though, Gordon can’t thrive without a line and the Chargers have DJ Fluker and who?

  19. yyc2phx says: Feb 14, 2016 6:52 PM

    Look at the players he had a hand in drafting…most all are out of football… His success was strictly Dennis Greens talent.. He’s a decent OC but not much more than that… Track record if you care to dig deep isn’t good

  20. campcouch says: Feb 14, 2016 10:36 PM

    Ever see your old head coach resurface a coordinator and make some statement about improving his new team? You scratch your head and wonder why he didn’t do that before he got canned.

  21. cosmicconvoy says: Feb 14, 2016 11:44 PM

    Poor Rivers …

  22. aljack88 says: Feb 15, 2016 12:07 AM

    campcouch says:
    Feb 14, 2016 10:36 PM
    Ever see your old head coach resurface a coordinator and make some statement about improving his new team? You scratch your head and wonder why he didn’t do that before he got canned.
    At the other end of your spectrum, you have Wade Phillips.

    Wade has proven himself as a DC, not so much as a HC.

  23. itsgettingchippy says: Feb 15, 2016 3:11 AM

    What does it matter? If Gordon proves successful the Chargers will just let him go.

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