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Coaches Corner With Whiz


Head coach Ken Whisenhunt went 8-8 in his first season in Arizona.

Baily99 asked, You've got the best core of coaches and players I've seen on this team in over a decade.  What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the current roster?

A: "The biggest strength is we have better depth overall with our football team as opposed to where we were a year ago. Right now our biggest weakness is probably we're going to count on some young guys to play for us. Their transition into being good football players, I don't know how long that is going to take and if we have to count on some of those guys early in the season that sometimes is difficult."

David Corcoran, Dublin, Republic of Ireland asked, What was the most valuable lesson you learned from your rookie campaign as a head coach last year, and how does it influence you going forward?

A: "The most valuable lesson I learned is that there is a lot more that goes into this job than just football and managing a game from a standpoint of you're dealing with the entire game; offense, defense, special teams. As I go into the second year I think I'll be much better as the overall manager of the game. Just being better prepared for situations, not so much from the standpoint of football situations because I think we did a pretty good job of that, more so with things that are going on off the field like travel. When are we going to leave when we play on the East Coast? What to expect of our team when we have injuries? Things like that."* *

John Baker, season ticket holder since year one in Arizona, asked, Do you really need four preseason games to get the team ready for the regular season? Would you be in favor of a shorter preseason?

A: "I personally prefer the four preseason games because we use it as a tool to evaluate our young players. A lot of times with your starters you still want to get them in the flow of a game, so they do play some in the games but it is a great opportunity for us to evaluate guys like a Steve Breaston, who we think is going to be a good player for us. There is only so much you can get out of a practice atmosphere. You really need some competition against other NFL players that are not on your team."

Jeff Gollin of Holmdel, NJ asked, When you evaluate the factors that enter into the improvement of a football team, how do you rank the following in importance: 1. Addition/subtraction of players (thru trade, free agency, the draft or injury), 2. Strength/conditioning during the off-season, 3. Upgrading of each existing players' skill base during the off-season, 4. Upgrading of each existing players' skill base during the  regular season, 5. Game-to-game experience during the regular season, 6. X's & O's.

A: "I think probably in that order. You're naturally going to lose some players to free agency because you can't keep everyone, just like we lost Calvin Pace. What you do to replace those players, like adding Clark Haggins, Bryan Robinson and Matt Stewart were good additions for us. I feel like we did a good job of managing those situations. The second thing, offseason conditioning is always an important thing. I would say that it's close between offseason conditioning and what you do with your roster because the workout program is really where your team is built. The last thing is the game experience. In order to become a good football team there are "x" number of games or situations you have to go through. It's not just something you can snap your fingers and all of the sudden you are a good team."

Brad Jensen asked, What is the biggest change you see in your team this year, compared to last year at this time?

A: "Confidence. Confidence in the system but also in themselves. I think last year I felt like we had good players but didn't know how they were going to respond in different situations. Another good example is how our team came back in games early in the season like Baltimore, like Washington, where we trailed and came back and had a chance at the end of the game. I think our team now believes, especially because of winning the last two at home and getting to 8-8, believes that we can win the way we are doing it."

Brooke Georgetti asked,How do you feel Matt Leinart is progressing after missing most of last season?

A: "It has been a very good spring for Matt. Physically he looks very good. He is strong and throwing the ball well. He is suffering no ill effects from his shoulder and I think he has worked diligently in the strength and conditioning program with John Lott so he is bigger, stronger and is moving around very well. I think from that standpoint he is much further along. I have also been very pleased with his mental preparation and his growth in that area. This started when he was injured last year and the amount of time he put in during the season. The thing I really like is you see confidence in him on the field because he is more comfortable with the system and when he steps into the huddle and calls the plays there is a different presence about him now. Now we still have to translate that into games but I've been very encouraged."

Michel Wall asked, I know there are so many things a head coach of a NFL team is responsible for but what do you think is the single most important duty that your are responsible for?

A: "Managing the team, as far as eliminating distractions with your team and probably the biggest thing is getting your team on the same page and believing in what you are doing. I feel like we made big strides in that last year. We got to 8-8 doing it the way we believed we could do it as a coaching staff. The players believe that because we did have success. If you can get the group working together with one mission, believing in what you are doing and how you do it that is your toughest challenge as a coach because you have a number of different personalities."

Bill Lutz of Piqua, OH asked,Greetings from Western Ohio!  I have become a huge fan of yours.  I really enjoy listening to you during your press conferences, appearances on Cardinals Underground and other media appearances.  I really appreciate the professional approach you bring once you are behind the microphone.  I am wondering, how were you able to hone that skill?  Was it something you are always good at or is it something you had to really concentrate to develop? Finally, a question I ask everyone I admire, have you read any good books lately? 

A: "Thank you very much. First of all. I believe I've been very fortunate to be around some good coaches and good organizations. I watched Joe Gibbs, I watched Bill Cowher, I watched Dan Henning, and I learned how they did things. I've had questions and gotten advice from them. I don't want to say that I've studied it but because of the way my parents raised me I try to be respectful and I try to be honest. I think that type of approach is what I feel most comfortable with. If I am in fact good at it, I think when we made our Super Bowl run in 2005 with the Steelers it helped because there is so much media attention during the playoffs and the week of the Super Bowl that naturally you are going to get a little better at it because you're getting more experience. I'm learning every day as we go forward and I try to keep the principles in mind of being respectful, being as honest as I can and to treat people essentially the way I'd like to be treated. I appreciate your comments and if that is the way you feel I certainly thank you.

"And for the book,

First In, Last Out* by John Salka. It is leadership lessons from the New York Fire Department. I'm looking forward to doing some more reading this summer on vacation, particularly fiction novels by James Patterson and John Sanford."

Matthew Malicki of Chicago, IL, asked, You have recently announced that the coming season's play calling will be handled by Coach Haley. What will be your approach now as the head coach in conjunction with your other coaches in game preparation?

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