Ken Whisenhunt: Cardinals coach, ruiner of QBs?
Ken Whisenhunt has had six different starting quarterbacks
over his five years as head coach of the Arizona
Of a group including Matt Leinart, Kurt Warner, Derek
Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb, only
Warner could be considered a good passer.
Is that a sign Coach Whiz is a poor judge of talent or
just a lousy coach of quarterbacks? We may find out, as
Matt Leinart is set to start for the Houston Texans, and if the
“one the coach let get away” plays well it will give more
ammunition to people who think Arizona’s coach just
doesn’t know what he’s doing with the position.
One such person is Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com, who writes that the
decision to go with Warner in 2009 was the only wise one
When Warner retired after the 2009 season, Leinart was
seen as the starter-in-waiting. The team brought in former
Browns colossus Derek Anderson to compete, even as
Anderson was coming off of a season in which he completed
just 44.5 percent of his passes and threw an interception
every 18 passes. Over his four-year career in Cleveland,
he had completed 52.9 percent of his passes and thrown 46
touchdowns against 45 picks. In other words, Anderson was
about as mediocre as Leinart was during his rookie season.
Despite all that, Whisenhunt preferred Anderson, and cut
the former first-round pick. Anderson was arguably the
worst opening day starter in football, and the team
bounced between him and rookies Max Hall and John Navarre
throughout the season. Each rated among the worst
quarterbacks in football. The following year, Whisenhunt
traded for Kevin Kolb. Kolb was, not coincidentally, one
of the worst quarterbacks in football this season before
suffering an injury. Whisenhunt is the primary reason why
Matt Leinart is considered a bust, and over the course of
his career as Cardinals coach, Whisenhunt has shown
virtually no ability to pick the right starting
quarterback for his team.
Barnwell’s reference to John Navarre instead of John
Skelton notwithstanding, it’s an interesting point. Not
one young QB has developed into anything useful for the
Cardinals, a key reason the team has struggled mightily of
Some argue Whisenhunt lucked into Warner, a player who had
a renaissance of sorts after most thought his career was
over. Did the coach have something to do with that? It’d
be wrong not to give him some credit, but the decisions
since Warner retired have been bad enough to make one
question — or at least wonder — what Whiz is doing.