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Matt Leinart: Kurt Warner ran the 2008 Cardinals, not Ken Whisenhunt

Ken-Whisenhunt-ChargersOne of the main reasons Ken Whisenhunt is a respected coach in the National Football League is the success he had with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008. With Kurt Warner as his quarterback, Whisenhunt led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to Matt Leinart, it was Warner who got the team there — not Whisenhunt.

Earlier this week, Leinart told FOX Sports Live that he does not believe Whisenhunt will be a good fit with the Tennessee Titans.

“I don’t think it’s a great fit, and I don’t think it’s great timing, and here’s why,” Leinart said, via Vince Marotta of ArizonaSports.com. “You look at his tenure in Arizona — only two years, he had success, and in those two years, Kurt Warner ran that football team — I was a part of it.

“Every single Monday, Kurt Warner would come in and implement 20-to-30 new plays which he would say, ‘I want these in my game plan.’ We became a spread offense and we became Kurt Warner’s offense. Then Kurt Warner retires, they go 5-11 twice and they go 8-8.”

Without Warner, the Cardinals would not have had the same success they had five or six years ago. The same could be said of a lot of teams with great quarterbacks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the head coach deserves no credit.

Look no further than the 2013 San Diego Chargers, who ranked 5th in the NFL in total offense this season with Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator. A year ago, the Chargers finished the 2012 regular season ranked 31st in total offense. That team had most of the same pieces that Whisenhunt had to work with this season. That certainly tells you something.

Ken Whisenhunt hired as Titans head coach

Ken Whisenhunt Chargers

Ken Whisenhunt has been hired by the Tennessee Titans as their next head coach, according to multiple reports.

Whisenhunt spent the season with the San Diego Chargers and became a hot head coaching candidate after helping Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense turn things around. Tennessee was in the market for a new coach after firing Mike Munchak following a 7-9 season.

Whisenhunt gained recognition as an assistant coach on the Pittsburgh Steelers staff from 2001-2006. He was the team’s offensive coordinator from 2004-2006, but he left to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2007 after being passed over for the Steelers’ head coaching job (Mike Tomlin was hired instead). The Steelers and Cardinals both looked justified in their hires when Pittsburgh and Arizona met in the Super Bowl two seasons later.

Whisenhunt went 45-51 in six seasons as head coach of the Cardinals. He was extremely successful when he had a good quarterback — Kurt Warner — and he won more games than he probably should have when he had bad ones (e.g. John Skelton and Kevin Kolb). He’s a good coach and this is a good hire for Tennessee.

As an interesting note, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport says the Detroit Lions sent a plane for Whisenhunt, but he never got on it because he decided to accept the Titans job instead.

Whisenhunt Taking Practical Approach

It’s been a rocky summer for quarterback Matt Leinart. Aside from rumors he may have been dating the bachelorette, everything has been negative. The Cardinals started off by bringing in Derek Anderson showing their lack of confidence in Leinart, and by week three of the preseason, they pissed Leinart off by benching him. Now, the reports are saying the Cardinals are trying to trade Leinart.

Leinart says the benching was unfair and that he’s outperformed the other quarterbacks. He thinks Coach Ken Whisenhunt has something against him personally. Leinart’s supporters cite the quarterback’s high completion percentage and impressive quarterback rating this preseason as evidence he didn’t get a fair shot. While I can’t argue that those particular stats look good, I do agree with Whisenhunt’s decision and handling of the situation.

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