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Coaches Change, Chemistry Doesn't


The Cardinals made Bill Davis (left) their defensive coordinator, with Russ Grimm (center) and Mike Miller splitting offensive coordinator responsibility.

INDIANAPOLIS ? The time it took Ken Whisenhunt to piece together a new coaching staff was a little more than he might have wanted.

But with a belief his staff?s chemistry was a big reason of the Cardinals? Super Bowl run this past season, Whisenhunt cared less about the days it took than he did the product his coaching search produced.

?Finding that fit takes time,? Whisenhunt said.

Adhering to another of his beliefs ? promoting from within when possible ? Whisenhunt officially named linebackers coach Bill Davis as his new defensive coordinator Wednesday. He also split the offensive coordinator role into two, making assistant head coach Russ Grimm the run-game coordinator and wide receivers coach Mike Miller the passing game coordinator.

?The thing I feel the best about is there won?t be any changes in philosophy or terminology on both sides of the ball,? Whisenhunt said. ?That?s a big thing, and something you worry about. You don?t want that disruption or uncertainty for our players.?

Both coordinator jobs were vacant soon after the Super Bowl. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley was hired to be the new head coach in Kansas City. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast was fired.

Grimm will continue coaching the offensive line. Former NFL quarterback Chris Miller takes over the quarterbacks coach spot left open when Jeff Rutledge was let go. Rutgers offensive coordinator John McNulty ? who was an NFL assistant for six seasons before spending five at Rutgers -- will replace Miller as wide receivers coach.

Whisenhunt promoted defensive quality control coach Matt Raich to linebackers coach to replace Davis. The Cards still need to fill both Raich?s spot and the spot left when offensive quality control coach Dedric Ward left to take a job on Haley?s staff in Kansas City.

The most interesting turn was the decision to halve the offensive coordinator role. Whisenhunt said he didn?t want to burden Grimm with too much responsibility with Grimm already playing a key role building the offensive line. Miller, meanwhile, had already been involved in gameplanning and can take over details like preparing the gameday script. As the former receivers coach, he already has a close relationship not only with the wideouts but also the quarterbacks, Whisenhunt said.

That continuity may be a nod to free agent quarterback Kurt Warner, who had expressed concern about the staff once Haley left.

For his part, Grimm smiled when he heard he was given an additional title.

?I don?t see (my role) changing a whole lot,? said Grimm, who already had a say in the running game. ?Maybe (I?ll do) a little bit more if we need something for the running game. But for me to do both jobs, I couldn?t do it and for (Whisenhunt) to do both, it?s not smart. We?ll all do it, and Mike will tie it all together.?

Whisenhunt said the offensive package will be prepared much like the Cards did it in Whisenhunt?s first season, when he, Haley and Grimm would work together. That also means Whisenhunt will call the plays, although he said he hoped to eventually groom Miller to take that role as he did with Haley.

?I am a big believer in developing coaches and that is the process we will go through again,? Whisenhunt said. ?Hopefully we will have the same success.?

Defensively, Whisenhunt said the Cardinals under Davis will continue to do ?what is best for our defensive personnel.?

?There are some things we have done well defensively that we will continue with,? Whisenhunt said. ?But there are some (new) principles we will incorporate that are similar to a 3-4 concept. We will still be the same type of hybrid defense. We will have the ability to do both things, which will hopefully make us more difficult to play against.?

Whisenhunt said he liked that McNulty had already been a receivers coach in the NFL (with Jacksonville and Dallas) and now had the experience as a playcaller at Rutgers. Miller, meanwhile, is a former teammate of Whisenhunt who made a Pro Bowl as a quarterback and spent part of training camp in 2007 as a coaching intern with the Cards.

Contact Darren Urban at Posted 2/18/09. Updated 2/18/09.

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