The Cardinals fired defensive coordinator Bill Davis Thursday.
Ken Whisenhunt promised change, and the Cardinals made a major one Thursday, when defensive coordinator Bill Davis was let go.
Saying it was “not something I was planning to do,” Whisenhunt said it had taken a few days to interview players and coaches and review the season before making the decision.
“I have great respect for Billy as a coach and as a friend and it was tough to do this,” a weary-looking Whisenhunt said. “But when you go 5-11, you are forced to make some tough decisions.”
The Cardinals finished 29th overall in the NFL on defense and were 30th in points allowed. Davis knew as the season came to a close his job was in jeopardy because of the defensive performance. Davis still was under contract.
Whisenhunt said he does not have a timetable to replace Davis yet. He said the position will not be filled by anyone currently on staff, although he doesn’t know who it will be yet.
Whisenhunt said he couldn’t rule out further changes on the coaching staff, but he added that he wasn’t saying that meant there would be.
It would make sense that a new coordinator from the outside may want to further tweak the defensive staff, making more turnover possible once the new coordinator was hired.
Former secondary coach Teryl Austin, who was recently the defensive coordinator for the University of Florida, was a close second to Davis in getting the job when Clancy Pendergast was let go and Whisenhunt said “I wouldn’t rule him out.”
Whisenhunt has also talked to Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler in the past about the position.
But the goal is to find the right guy to make sure the defense takes a major step forward in 2011.
“As I sit here right now, I have a couple of names (in mind), but I don’t even know the availability of those guys,” Whisenhunt said.
With multiple teams hiring new coaching staffs -- and teams with coaches already under contract leery of the labor situation -- prying some candidates away may be difficult.
There is a concern on how the potential lockout – and the potential of losing an offseason with a new coordinator and his new philosophy for the players – will affect the team with such a move. But, Whisenhunt said, that was eventually outweighed by the need for a change.
“This is painful,” Whisenhunt said. “(But) we will do the best job we can to fill it.”