Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast will not return to the Cards next season.
The Cardinals were already looking for a new offensive coordinator when Todd Haley took the Chiefs? head coaching job, but now they need a defensive coordinator as well.
In news that first broke Friday, defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast simply ?will not return? to the team in 2009, according to the team?s official press release Saturday.
?Clancy is a talented coach and we appreciate all that he?s contributed in his time with the Cardinals,? Whisenhunt said in a statement released by the team. ?He was one of the guys retained from the previous staff and has done a good job. But as part of the evaluation process that?s done after every season, I took a look at the last two years as a whole and felt this move was necessary to help us continue the progress we?ve made.
?Like every decision it comes down to what?s best for the team and what gives us the best chance to win. From a timing standpoint, we wanted to be fair to Clancy and give him a chance to seek the best possible opportunity in which to continue his career. In terms of filling the position, we have some people in mind both internally and externally and will begin that process immediately.?
Haley was officially announced as the Chiefs? coach Friday afternoon.
At defensive coordinator, the Cardinals do have options. If Whisenhunt stays in-house, he could turn to linebackers coach Bill Davis, who was defensive coordinator in San Francisco in 2005 and 2006 prior to coming to the Cardinals. Whisenhunt could look outside the organization. One name being tossed around in speculation is Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler, who worked with Whisenhunt in Pittsburgh. Butler is believed to be under contract, however, and the Steelers would have to give permission for him to leave.
Whisenhunt was interested in Butler when he first arrived in 2007, but the Steelers would not allow it at the time.
There is a good chance Whisenhunt could stay within the organization on both sides of the ball for his new coordinator. Assistant head coach Russ Grimm and running backs coach Maurice Carthon are among the offensive coordinator candidates. Whisenhunt has indicated other offensive coaches, such as tight end coach Freddie Kitchens and wide receivers coach Mike Miller, are also possibilities.
Pendergast, who was originally hired by former head coach Dennis Green, helped the Cards jump from 26th to 12th in NFL defensive rank from 2003 to 2004, and the Cards were eighth in the NFL in 2005. The Cards slipped to 29th in 2006, before moving back to 17th in 2007 and 19th this season.
The Cards? defense had an inconsistent 2008 season. It played well early, struggled in the latter part of the schedule, and then played pretty well in the postseason. Teams couldn?t run on the Cards in the playoffs.
The Cardinals have used a hybrid defensive scheme since Whisenhunt was hired, a mesh between the 4-3 defense Pendergast employed when Green was in charge and the 3-4 look Whisenhunt watched be so successful when he was an assistant in Pittsburgh.