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Hubris is becoming Ken Whisenhunt’s downfall

The word “hubris” is defined as “an excess of ambition, pride
etc, ultimately causing the transgressor’s ruin.”

We’ve seen it lead to the demise of one excellent coach in
the Valley, and I fear we’re watching it happen again
today.

Indeed, Ken Whisenhunt appears to be going down the same
road already traveled by Mike D’Antoni, one that leads a
once highly-regarded coach out of town simply because he
was too stubborn to do what was best for the team and,
ultimately, him.

Before D’Antoni’s time in Phoenix ended he was supposedly
asked to actually devote practice time to defense and work
to develop a bench. Having won 232 regular season games
over the previous four seasons, Mike felt like he knew
what he was doing and that his system worked. Many thought
his “system” was Steve Nash, but it didn’t matter. He took
being asked to change personally and decided he no longer
wanted to coach in Phoenix because of it.

He hasn’t found success since.

Fast forward to today and you’ll see similar patterns with
Whisenhunt.

Coach Whiz is arguably the most successful head coach the
Cardinals have ever had, but none of that matters now as
the team has followed a 5-11 season with a 1-6 start. The
idea that Kurt Warner was the sole reason for Whisenhunt’s
success seems to have some merit, as Arizona changed from
playoff contender to “Same Old Cardinals” the day No. 13
retired.

But there’s more to it than that. In fact, the signs were
visible as early as the 2010 preseason.

The day Whisenhunt decided he was done with Matt Leinart
was the day the clock on his time in Arizona started
ticking away. Leinart may very well be the worst
quarterback in history, but Whisenhunt decided to not let
the man prove it on the field and instead demoted the
presumed starter during the preseason, which infuriated
the former Heisman Trophy winner. The decision to go with
Derek Anderson was 100 percent Whisenhunt thinking he
could make someone who had completed 44.5 percent of his
passes the previous season a legitimate QB. He would
succeed where everyone else had failed. And why wouldn’t
he feel that way, his system worked for Kurt Warner.

Wrong, but it wasn’t the coach’s fault. The system works,
we were told, and it was all about players making
mistakes.

Once thought to be a brilliant coach who adapted his
system to the talent he had, Whisenhunt is proving to be a
guy who would instead prefer to force the talent to fit
his system. Bad idea.

But that would all be fixed if the team could find a real
quarterback, which they did this past summer. However, six
weeks into the regular season there is already talk about
Kevin Kolb’s footwork being a mess and the QB being slow
to pick up the system, issues we heard Leinart had, too.
It’s a little understandable for Kolb, given the lack of
an offseason, but if that’s the case why throw so much at
the QB so soon?

The same is happening with the defense now, which is on
its third coordinator in four seasons.

Problem is the defense still can’t stop anyone, and star
players like Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson are
struggling to make any sort of positive impact. While
Wilson’s decline could be attributed to age, the guess
here is Dockett’s is more because he’s simply being used
incorrectly. In this system. Which Whisenhunt wanted.

This is Coach Whisenhunt’s fifth season at the helm and
thus far he’s compiled a 33-38 record. Of course, he’s
just 6-17 since Warner retired, with the losses coming by
an average of 14 points a game. The team has barely been
competitive at times, something that is inexcusable in
today’s NFL and shocking given how talented this team was
just a couple years ago. And many of their issues —
especially on the offensive line — have been around since
the day the coach was hired.

ESPN’s Ron Jaworski said last
week
, as far as the Cardinals’ struggles are
concerned, that “it’s either poor coaching or dumb
players.”

It’s likely a combination of both, which ultimately falls
back on the head coach.

Unfortunately like D’Antoni, Whisenhunt is a smart guy,
one who should be able to see what the problems are and
work to fix them. Clearly D’Antoni needed to improve the
team’s depth and defense, and it’s obvious Whisenhunt
needs to adapt the system to the players he has until he
gets the players he really needs.

That hasn’t appeared to be an option, and so far it has
cost the Cardinals some games. A little more stubbornness
from the coach, though, and it will likely cost him his
job, too.