Have you ever been fired before? I have and to be frank…it was misery. Easily one of the worst days of my life. I can remember every specific detail of the day, including the movie my wife and I went to that night; the Harrison Ford suckfest “Six Days Seven Nights.” The film broke halfway through and as the lights came up I turned my wife and said, “Holy (bleep), I got fired today.”
I don’t care how much money you’re getting on the way out the door, rejection, by rule, is unpleasant. For that reason I’m always cautious about celebrating another person’s misfortune when they’ve lost their job.
So I’m not celebrating the firings of Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves, but certainly I am endorsing it as the right move to make.
For these three reasons:
1. The losing streaks. Seven games, six games and nine games in a three-year stretch. Inexcusable. Indefensible. You can’t run into that many icebergs and still expect to be the captain of the boat.
2. The stubbornness. Or, if you’ve grown tired of hearing that word to describe coach Whisenhunt let’s put it this way; the inability to adapt to changing conditions. Call it what you want, he was too slow to adapt. He left Joey Porter in too long. He left D’Anthony Batiste in too long. Russ Grimm. Mike Miller. But the most damning moment came during the game against the New York Jets this season, when — despite all evidence to the contrary — he left rookie Ryan Lindley in the game until the bitter end, professing a belief that he gave the Cardinals the best chance to win that football game. It was that moment where I felt Whisenhunt had truly lost his way.
And most importantly….
3. The inability to find a quarterback post-Kurt Warner. The sad truth is that after three years and six different players manning (pun intended) the position, the Cardinals are not a step closer to finding their quarterback than they were the day Warner retired.
Who is ultimately responsible for that? Personally, I believe Whisenhunt had the loudest voice at the table. But you had to fire Graves too, because as the GM, technically, he is supposed to play a part in that as well. And, you can’t have your fan base thinking you’ve done only half the job.
I suppose that is the move I’m most surprised by. They didn’t reassign Graves like I suspected they would. They flat out fired him. Maybe he was no more than a contract negotiator; a general manager in title only. It didn’t ultimately matter. As long as he was in that front office many of the fans would have believed that nothing, in fact, had changed.
Michael Bidwill needed to convince his season-ticket holders, his customers and anyone else that roots for the organization, that things were going to be different. Nobody was going to buy it as long as Graves was around, hence he was let go along with Whisenhunt. An obvious move, but a bold one as well.
One thing is clear; the Arizona Cardinals need a quarterback. And Whisenhunt and Graves simply could not be trusted to find one. They had their chances and they whiffed. It was time to give somebody else a turn.
Is that person Steve Keim? Andy Reid? We’ll see.