Ken Whisenhunt
Whisenhunt in 2011
San Diego Chargers
Offensive coordinator
Personal information
Date of birth: (1962-02-28) February 28, 1962 (age 58)
Place of birth: Augusta, Georgia
Career information
College: Georgia Tech
NFL Draft: 1985 / Round: 12 / Pick: 313
Debuted in 1985 for the Atlanta Falcons
Last played in 1992 for the New York Jets
Career history
 As player:
* Atlanta Falcons ( 1985 1988)
 As coach:
* Vanderbilt University (1995–1996)
(Special teams/tight ends/H-backs coach)
Career highlights and awards
* Super Bowl champion (XL)
  • AFC champion (2005)
  • NFC champion (2008)
Receptions     62
Receiving yards     596
Touchdowns     5

Kenneth Moore "Ken" Whisenhunt (born February 28, 1962) is an American Football coach currently serving as the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers. Whisenhunt was head coach of the Arizona Cardinals from 2007 2012 and led the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history during the 2008 season. Previously, he was known for his offensive background, including the success he had with the Pittsburgh Steelers in his 3 years as their offensive coordinator under Bill Cowher and winning Super Bowl XL during the 2005 season.

Playing careerEdit

After attending the Academy of Richmond County in Augusta, Georgia for high school, Whisenhunt played college football at Georgia Tech (1980–84)[1] where he graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering. During his senior season, he was an honorable mention All-American. He finished first team all-ACC during his final two college seasons. His career as a player included 4 years (1985–88) as a tight end with the Atlanta Falcons, who drafted him in the twelfth round, and then short stints with the Washington Redskins and New York Jets. He retired from the league in 1993 after nine seasons in which he was mostly known as a blocking back.

Coaching careerEdit

Early careerEdit

He began his coaching career at Vanderbilt University, where he coached special teams, tight ends and running backs for the Commodores from 1995–96. In 1997, he returned to the NFL as the tight ends coach for the Baltimore Ravens. Whisenhunt was a transient in his early years in the league, moving to the staff of the Cleveland Browns in 1999 and to the New York Jets the following season.

Pittsburgh SteelersEdit

In 2001, Whisenhunt was hired by the Steelers to coach their tight ends. He was able to develop players such as Mark Bruener and Jay Riemersma, both considered past their prime, into excellent blocking backs. He also oversaw the early development of tight end Heath Miller, who has been a successful tight end in the league.

Whisenhunt took over the role of offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh for the 2004 season after Mike Mularkey became the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Although his predecessor Mularkey was known for creating flashy trick plays, Whisenhunt showed great success as more of a cautious innovator, whose well-timed trick plays contrasted the conservative Steelers run game.

One of Whisenhunt's most famous moments as a Steeler is the trick play he called in Super Bowl XL. With Pittsburgh leading 14-10 over the Seattle Seahawks, Whisenhunt called a wide receiver reverse pass (Antwaan Randle El to Hines Ward, the only TD pass thrown by a WR in Super Bowl history) that allowed Pittsburgh to pull away.

Arizona CardinalsEdit

On January 14, 2007 the Arizona Cardinals hired Whisenhunt as their new head coach, with a contract to receive an average of $2.5 million annually. Whisenhunt had also interviewed for the head coaching position with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins. He was previously interviewed to be the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in February 2006, but he pulled out of talks before an offer could be made.[2]

The Cardinals showed improvement in Whisenhunt's first season, finishing 8-8 after finishing 5-11 the previous two seasons and losing 10 or more games in seven of the previous eight campaigns. It was their first non-losing season since 1998, though they still failed to make the playoffs.

Going into his second season in 2008, Whisenhunt made the decision to go with veteran quarterback Kurt Warner as his starter. In previous seasons, Warner had split time with the team's younger quarterback Matt Leinart, although Warner started the final 11 games of the 2007 season after Leinart suffered a season-ending injury. This decision paid off as Warner put up great numbers in leading the Cardinals to a 9-7 regular season record in the 2008 season and the NFC West Division championship, the Cardinals' first division title since 1975, when the team played in St. Louis, and the club's first playoff berth since 1998. After defeating the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers in the first two rounds of the NFC playoffs, the Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship on January 18, 2009 and advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history to face the Pittsburgh Steelers, where Whisenhunt formerly occupied the post of offensive coordinator. Whisenhunt's Cardinals lost the game 27-23.

The following season, Whisenhunt led the Cardinals to a 10-6 record and another NFC West Division championship. The Cardinals then advanced past the first round of the playoffs by beating the Green Bay Packers 51-45 in overtime before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints 45-14 in the next round.

Following the retirement of Warner and a number of other losses at other positions, the Cardinals were not expected to fare well during the 2010 season. Leinart had been expected to regain his starting quarterback job, but Whisenhunt made the decision to install free agent pickup Derek Anderson as the starter, move rookie Max Hall to backup, and release Leinart from the team. The Cardinals finished 5-11 and last in the NFC West. In 2011, despite ongoing quarterback issues, Whisenhunt and the team management put together a solid young roster that finished with an 8-8 record.

In 2012, Whisenhunt guided the Cardinals to their first 4-0 start since 1974, when the franchise was coached by Don Coryell in St. Louis. The Cardinals proceeded to lose 9 straight games and in week 14 were blown out by the Seattle Seahawks 58-0. The losing streak finally ended the following week with a 38-10 victory over the Detroit Lions.

On December 31, 2012, Whisenhunt was relieved of his head coaching duties by the Cardinals after 3 straight non-playoff seasons. Rod Graves, general manager at the time, was also relieved of his duties.[3]

San Diego ChargersEdit

He was recently hired as offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, under new head coach Mike McCoy (former OC of the Denver Broncos).

Head coaching recordEdit

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won LostTiesWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
AZ2007 880.5002nd in NFC West - - - -
AZ2008 970.5601st in NFC West 3 1 .750 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
AZ2009 1060.6251st in NFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to New Orleans Saints in NFC Divisional Game.
AZ2010 5110.313 4th in NFC West - - --
AZ2011 880.500 2nd in NFC West - - --
AZ2012 5110.313 4th in NFC West - - --
Total45510.469 42 .667

Coaching treeEdit

NFL head coaches under whom Ken Whisenhunt has served:

Assistant coaches under Ken Whisenhunt who became NFL head coaches:


Ken and his wife, Alice, have two children: a son Kenneth Jr., and daughter Mary Ashley.

Whisenhunt earned the rank of Eagle Scout as a boy.[4]


  1. Scott Michaux Coach takes pressure in stride, Augusta Chronicle, January 28, 2009. Retrieved 01-28-2009
  2. "Raiders without Russell in opener". National Football League via Associated Press. 2008-04-11 (written 2007).;jsessionid=4264059C0054F0150445F956C7444AC6?game_id=29464&displayPage=tab_preview&season=2007&week=PRE1. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  3. Somers, Kent (Jan 1, 2013). "Arizona Cardinals fire head coach Ken Whisenhunt, general manager Rod Graves". Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  4. "Eagle Scouts In The News". Eagletter (Irving, TX: National Eagle Scout Association, Boy Scouts of America) 35 (2): 13. Fall 2009.

External linksEdit

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Mike Mularkey
Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Bruce Arians
Preceded by
Dennis Green
Arizona Cardinals Head Coach
Succeeded by
Bruce Arians
Preceded by
Bill Belichick
Super Bowl Losing Head Coaches
Super Bowl XLIII, 2008-09
Succeeded by
Jim Caldwell

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