Ken Whisenhunt was named Arizona’s head coach on January 14, 2007 when he signed a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth; he was rewarded with an extension on February 25, 2010 that will keep him under contract through 2013 with a team option for 2014. He enters 2012 as the winningest head coach in franchise history with 44 total victories after passing both Don Coryell (42) and Jim Hanifan (39) during the 2011 season. His 4-2 career postseason record is among the league leaders in winning percentage.
Whisenhunt became the first coach in franchise history with a .500 record or better in each of his first three seasons (8-8 in 2007; 9-7 in 2008; 10-6 in 2009) and Arizona has gone .500 or better in 4 of his 5 campaigns. In his first two years as head coach, the Cardinals posted a 12-4 regular season record at University of Phoenix Stadium (14-4 including postseason). Overall under Whisenhunt, the Cards have an combined home record of 29-14, including a 3-0 postseason mark. The team’s 6-2 mark at home in 2011 established a franchise record with five straight seasons of .500 or better at home.
The Cardinals finished 8-8 in a season marked by resilience, comebacks, tight games and thrilling finishes. Arizona led the NFL with 13 games decided by seven points or fewer and went 8-5 in those games. They set an NFL single-season record by winning four overtime contests (all at home). The Cards had six fourth quarter comebacks, one shy of the NFL record (7, Indianapolis, 2009) dating back to 1970.
The lack of an offseason due to the labor dispute contributed to a less-than-ideal start that saw the team win the opener but then lose six straight to fall to 1-6. The resilient Cards rebounded to finish 2011 as one of the hottest teams in football, recording a 7-2 record over the final 9 games and post the second-best record ever by an NFL team in a season that included a losing streak of six or more games.
Against the Browns in Week 15, Whisenhunt earned his 43rd victory as head coach, passing Don Coryell for most wins in franchise history.
In a challenging season, the Cardinals suffered their first sub-.500 campaign since Whisenhunt took over as head coach and finished 5-11.
At season’s end, his 36 total victories as head coach (including postseason) moved him into third place among the franchise’s all-time coaches in career victories.
With a 4-4 record at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2010, he joined Coryell (1974-77) as the franchise’s only coaches to ever post four consecutive seasons with a home record of .500 or better.
Led Arizona to 10-6 regular season record and second straight NFC West title, giving the Cards back-to-back division titles for the first time since 1974-75. It was the team’s best regular season record since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. It marked the first 10-win season for the franchise since 1976 and its sixth all-time.
The Cardinals avoided back-to-back losses in ’09 marking the first time they’ve done that since 1975; they were also the only team to accomplish that in ’09. The team posted a 6-2 record on the road, their most since 1963 (6); the Cards also rattled off five straight road wins in a season for the first time since 1948.
With a thrilling Wild Card win vs. Green Bay, the Cards improved to 4-0 all-time at home in postseason play and gave them back-to-back home playoff wins for the first time in franchise history.
After a solid inaugural campaign as head coach, Whisenhunt’s second one resulted in the most successful season in team history. The Cardinals secured the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 1998 with a 9-7 mark, first division crown since ’75 thanks to a 6-0 record within the NFC West, and first home playoff game since 1947. That of course led to Arizona’s first-ever conference title and Super Bowl appearance.
Arizona’s 12 total wins in ’08 were the most in team history and the Cardinals won more postseason contests in January (3) than they had in their entire history (2).
In his first year as an NFL head coach, Whisenhunt led Arizona to its best record in 10 years (8-8) and the team recorded a 6-2 mark at home, its best since 1976. Year one had its share of excitement and last-second finishes. Seven of the season’s first eight games were decided by 7 points or fewer and in all, the Cardinals played an NFL-leading 12 games decided by eight or fewer (six by a field
goal or less). Arizona’s three-win improvement in ’07 was the largest of any of the NFL’s five teams with first-year head coaches that year.
In 2007, the Cardinals set a franchise record for passing TDs (32) and recorded the second-highest season point total in team history with 404 (423 in 1984).
PRE-ARIZONA COACHING CAREER:
Whisenhunt came to the Cardinals with 10 years of experience as an NFL assistant coach and also played nine seasons in the league as a tight end and H-Back.
Immediately before coming to Arizona, Whisenhunt served six seasons as an assistant on Bill Cowher’s staff with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After three years as tight ends coach, he spent the 2005-07 seasons as Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator and helped the team to a victory over Seattle in Super Bowl XL.
In his first year as coordinator, the Steelers rushing attack improved from 31st to 2nd and the overall offense ranked 16th behind rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger. His second year ended with an NFL title after the Steelers offense averaged 26.8 points per game in the playoffs. Pittsburgh’s 2006 offense ranked 7th overall (9th passing and 10th rushing).
Whisenhunt took over as Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator in 2004 when Mike Mularkey became head coach of the Bills. That was the same year the team drafted Roethlisberger and the rookie QB went on to set an NFL record with wins in his first 13 career starts en route to Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. The next season he became the youngest QB in NFL history to win a Super Bowl and finished third in the league in passer rating (98.6).
Whisenhunt joined the Steelers in January of 2001 as tight ends coach when Mularkey was elevated from that position to offensive coordinator. He previously coached at the pro level with the New York Jets (tight ends, 2000), Cleveland Browns (special teams, 1999) and Baltimore Ravens (tight ends, 1997-98). He began his coaching career in the collegiate ranks with Vanderbilt for two seasons (1995-96)
Whisenhunt was drafted in the 12th round of the 1985 NFL Draft by Atlanta out of Georgia Tech. He went on to play nine NFL seasons with the Falcons (1985-88), Redskins (1989-90), and Jets (1991-93).
In 74 career games (37 starts), he caught 62 passes for 601 yards and six touchdowns.
After going to Georgia Tech as a walk-on, he finished his college playing career ranked second on the Yellow Jackets’ receiving yardage list (1,264 yards) and fourth in career receptions (82). He was a consensus All-ACC and honorable mention All-America selection as a senior in 1984 when he averaged 19.1 yards-per-catch.
Born February 28, 1962 in Atlanta, GA, Whisenhunt was raised in Augusta and is a graduate of Richmond Academy. He earned a degree in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech. Ken and his wife, Alice, have two children – son, Kenneth, Jr. and daughter Mary Ashley.