Kenneth Moore Whisenhunt (born February 28, 1962) is an American football
coach and former tight end
. He played college football at Georgia Tech
and was drafted in the twelfth round of the 1985 NFL Draft
by the Atlanta Falcons
, with whom he played for four years. He subsequently played two more years with the Washington Redskins
and another two with the New York Jets
Beginning his coaching career in 1995, he was head coach
of the Arizona Cardinals
from 2007 to 2012 and Tennessee Titans
from 2014 to 2015. He led the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl
appearance in franchise history during the 2008 season
, as well as their first home playoff games in 60 years. However, following the retirement of Kurt Warner
, Whisenhunt posted three straight non-winning seasons and was fired by the Cardinals. He was fired by the Titans after compiling a record of 3-20 through one and a half years. Overall, Whisenhunt posted a record of 48-71 as head coach, including a 4-31 record in his last 35 games as a head coach.
Prior to and after his tenures as head coach of the Cardinals and Titans, Whisenhunt served as an offensive coordinator to various NFL teams. He enjoyed success he had with the Pittsburgh Steelers
in his three years as their offensive coordinator
under Bill Cowher
and winning Super Bowl XL
over the Seattle Seahawks
during the 2005 season
. Most recently, Whisenhunt served as the offensive coordinator
for the Los Angeles Chargers
for four seasons before being fired on October 28, 2019.
After attending the Academy of Richmond County
in Augusta, Georgia
for high school, Whisenhunt played college football at Georgia Tech
(1980–84) where he graduated with a degree in civil engineering
. During his senior season, he was an honorable mention All-American. He finished first team all-ACC during his final two college seasons.
*1981: 22 catches for 295 yards and 2 TD.
*1982: 15 catches for 208 yards.
*1983: 18 catches for 244 yards and 2 TD.
*1984: 27 catches for 517 yards and 3 TD.
NFL playing career
His career as a player included four years (1985–88) as a tight end
with the Atlanta Falcons
, who drafted him in the twelfth round, and then short stints of two seasons each with the Washington Redskins
and New York Jets
. He retired from the league in 1993 after nine seasons in which he was mostly known as a blocking back. From 1986–1988 with Atlanta, he accumulated 53 catches for 503 yards with 5 TD.
Whisenhunt began his coaching career at Vanderbilt University
, where he coached special teams, tight end
s and running back
s for the Commodores
from 1995 to 1996. In 1997, he returned to the National Football League
as the tight ends coach for the Baltimore Ravens
. Whisenhunt was a transient in his early years in the league, moving to the staff of the Cleveland Browns
in 1999 and to the New York Jets
the following season.
In 2001, Whisenhunt was hired by the Steelers to coach their tight ends. He was able to develop players such as Mark Bruener
and Jay Riemersma
, both considered past their prime, into excellent tight ends. He also oversaw the early development of tight end Heath Miller
, who has been a successful tight end in the league.
Whisenhunt took over the role of offensive coordinator
in Pittsburgh for the 2004 season
after Mike Mularkey
became the head coach
of the Buffalo Bills
. Although his predecessor Mularkey was known for creating flashy trick plays, Whisenhunt showed great success as more of a cautious innovator, whose well-timed trick plays contrasted the conservative Steelers run game.
One of Whisenhunt's most famous moments as a Steeler is the trick play he called in Super Bowl XL
. With Pittsburgh leading 14-10 over the Seattle Seahawks
, Whisenhunt called a wide receiver reverse pass (Antwaan Randle El
to Hines Ward
, the only TD pass thrown by a WR in Super Bowl history) that allowed Pittsburgh to extend the lead over the Seahawks.
On January 14, 2007, the Arizona Cardinals
hired Whisenhunt as their new head coach
, with a contract to receive an average of $2.5 million annually. Whisenhunt had also interviewed for the head coaching position with the Pittsburgh Steelers
, Atlanta Falcons
, and Miami Dolphins
. He was previously interviewed to be the head coach
of the Oakland Raiders
in February 2006, but he pulled out of talks before an offer could be made.
The Cardinals showed improvement in Whisenhunt's first season, finishing 8-8 after finishing 5-11 the previous two seasons and losing 10 or more games in seven of the previous eight campaigns. It was their first non-losing season since 1998, though they still failed to make the playoffs.
Going into his second season in 2008, Whisenhunt made the decision to go with veteran quarterback Kurt Warner
as his starter. In previous seasons, Warner had split time with the team's younger quarterback Matt Leinart
, although Warner started the final 11 games of the 2007 season
after Leinart suffered a season-ending injury. This decision paid off as Warner put up great numbers in leading the Cardinals to a 9-7 regular season record in the 2008 season
and the NFC West
Division championship, the Cardinals' first division title since 1975, when the team played in St. Louis
, and the club's first playoff berth since 1998. It also allowed the Cardinals to play in only their second home playoff game in franchise history, and their first since winning the NFL championship in 1947, while the team was still in Chicago
(they never played a home playoff game in St. Louis despite winning two division titles there). After defeating the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers
in the first two rounds of the NFC playoffs, the Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Eagles
in the NFC Championship Game
on January 18, 2009 and advanced to the Super Bowl
for the first time in franchise history to face his former employer, the Steelers. Whisenhunt's Cardinals lost Super Bowl XLIII
The following season, Whisenhunt led the Cardinals to a 10-6 record and another NFC West title. In the playoffs
, the Cardinals defeated the Green Bay Packers
51-45 in a thrilling overtime victory before losing to the eventual Super Bowl
champion New Orleans Saints
45-14 in the next round.
Following the retirement of Warner and a number of other losses at other positions, the Cardinals were not expected to fare well during the 2010 season
. Leinart had been expected to regain his starting quarterback
job. Instead, Whisenhunt installed free agent
pickup Derek Anderson
as the starter, made rookie Max Hall
the backup, and released Leinart. The Cardinals finished 5-11 and last in the division. In 2011
, despite ongoing quarterback
issues, Whisenhunt and the team management put together a solid young roster that finished with an 8-8 record.
, Whisenhunt guided the Cardinals to their first 4-0 start since 1974, when the franchise was coached by Don Coryell
in St. Louis. The Cardinals proceeded to lose 9 straight games and in week 14 were blown out by the Seattle Seahawks
58-0. The losing streak finally ended the following week with a 38-10 victory over the Detroit Lions
On December 31, 2012, Whisenhunt was fired after 3 straight non-playoff seasons. Rod Graves
, general manager at the time, was also relieved of his duties.
San Diego Chargers
On January 17, 2013, he was hired as offensive coordinator
for the San Diego Chargers
, under new head coach Mike McCoy
. During the 2013 season
under Whisenhunt, the Chargers' finished 5th in the league in total offense, compared to 31st the season before
On January 13, 2014, the Tennessee Titans
hired Whisenhunt as their new head coach. Whisenhunt had also interviewed for the head coaching position with the Detroit Lions
and Cleveland Browns
. In Whisenhunt's first year, the Titans regressed heavily from their 2013 mark of 7–9. Tennessee finished the 2014 season with a 2–14 record, tying the Buccaneers for the worst record in the NFL.
On November 3, 2015, after starting the season 1–6, the Titans fired Whisenhunt and named Mike Mularkey
the interim head coach. Whisenhunt finished with a 3–20 record during his tenure with the team.
Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers (second stint)
On January 13, 2016, the Chargers re-hired Whisenhunt as their offensive coordinator.
On December 4, 2018, it was rumored that Whisenhunt would take the head coaching job at Georgia Tech
, where he and AD Todd Stansbury played football at Tech together. However, he ultimately turned down the offer, and would remain at the Chargers.
On October 28, 2019, a day after the Chargers defeated the Chicago Bears
, Whisenhunt was fired. At the time, the Chargers were 17th in total yards and 24th in points scored, including failing to score more than 20 points in October.
Head coaching record
Ken and his wife, Alice, have two children: a son Kenneth Jr., and daughter Mary Ashley.
Whisenhunt earned the rank of Eagle Scout
as a boy.
Whisenhunt is an avid golfer. A native of Augusta, Georgia
., he worked the 18th hole manual scoreboard as a teenager at the Masters golf tournament
, the PGA
’s first major of the year. He’s played the course on a number of occasions, including May 2008 when he shot an even par 72 that included an eagle on the par-4 11th hole. Whisenhunt contemplated a career in professional golf and after retiring as a player in 1993, he spent a year away from football and played golf extensively, including competing in the ’94 U.S. Mid-Amateur at the Hazeltine National Golf Club
in Chaska, Minn
. Whishenhunt’s best career score is a 65 and he has made two holes in one during his lifetime. He also unofficially has a third, but it went for a three on his scorecard after his original tee shot went in the water for a penalty.
Arizona Cardinals bio
Category:American football tight ends
Category:Arizona Cardinals head coaches
Category:Atlanta Falcons players
Category:Baltimore Ravens coaches
Category:Cleveland Browns coaches
Category:Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football players
Category:New York Jets coaches
Category:New York Jets players
Category:Pittsburgh Steelers coaches
Category:Vanderbilt Commodores football coaches
Category:San Diego Chargers coaches
Category:Los Angeles Chargers coaches
Category:Tennessee Titans head coaches
Category:Washington Redskins players
Category:National Football League offensive coordinators
Category:Academy of Richmond County alumni
Category:Sportspeople from Augusta, Georgia
Category:Players of American football from Georgia (U.S. state)