TEMPE, Ariz. – Since arriving as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals Ken Whisenhunt has seen his team win eight, nine and 10 games. Competitive, division titles and playoff appearances became the norm.
That’s what makes this season’s 5-11 record such a bitter pill to follow.
“I’m used to, in the short time we’ve been here, being in the playoffs right now,” Whisenhunt told Sports 620 KTAR’s Doug and Wolf Monday. “When you’re not it really kind of shocks you.
“OK, this isn’t right, you’re frustrated, you’re disappointed, you’re angry, and the only way to get rid of those emotions is to get back to work and to get it fixed.”
Saying it will not be a quick fix, Whisenhunt admitted the team’s hands are tied as far as the timing of retooling the roster.
Still, with the fifth pick in the 2011 draft the Cardinals are in prime position to add an impact player, possibly at the quarterback position. That spot, among all others, stands out as the reason for the team’s struggles this past season.
To wit: Cardinals quarterbacks threw for just 3,247 yards and 10 touchdowns, while tossing 19 interceptions. Four of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns.
Still, Whisenhunt would not commit to drafting a quarterback, only saying the team must get better play from the position next season.
“It’s such a critical position to being successful as a team, and that’s an area that has to be a priority as far as getting a plan and getting it fixed,” he said.
Whisenhunt would not place all the blame at the feet of the quarterbacks (all four of them) for the team’s struggles, instead choosing to focus on the team as a whole.
“We had receivers drop balls, we had backs that missed protection, we had tight ends that missed protection,” he said. “It’s a team game.”
It’s true that a team does not win just five games and find itself with the second worst point differential in the league, ahead of only Carolina (who beat the Cardinals), without having numerous holes needing to be filled.
“It’s hard to sit here and say it’s one thing or it’s a quick fix,” Whisenhunt said. “You’ve got a lot of areas that you have to look at candidly, you have to make decisions, you’re going to have to say goodbye to some people who have been good football players for you because either they’re not getting it done or they can’t get it done.”
Whisenhunt admitted the emotional attachment with the players will make it difficult to let some go, but it’s important to recognize when it is time to make the changes that are necessary for the team to turn its fortunes around. Because, at the end of the day, it’s about production.
“When we get into the minicamps, when we get into the OTAs, when we get into training camp, it’s got to be based on production and what you’re doing on the field,” he said. “It can’t be ‘OK, look, I made this play two years ago, I can make this play, put me in there, I can show up on Sunday and play’.”
Whisenhunt said any thought that veterans have a free pass or second and third year players are locks to be on the roster next season is just plain misguided.
“If you’re not getting it done we’re going to make a change, we’re going to get the best guys,” he said. “If that means we have to go out and try to find somebody else, whether it’s free agency or if we have a draft pick that we can