Tag:Ken Whisenhunt
Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:03 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 2:08 pm
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Cardinals won't shut the door on Peyton Manning

Eye on Football Illustration (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cardinals, despite having Kevin Kolb and John Skelton on their roster, are considered a candidate to land Peyton Manning if/when he's released by the Colts. CBS Sports Charley Casserly first talked about this way back in January, and with Arizona's freedom to get out of Kolb's contract before March 17, speculation has only increased.

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Ken Whisenhunt and GM Rod Graves, speaking Thursday at the NFL combine, did nothing to quell that speculation, leaving the door wide open for the possibility of making a change at quarterback.

"We're about opportunities to get better," Graves said when asked about the Cardinals depth at quarterback. "Everyone out there associated with our team understands that this is a competitive game and we're all looking to get better. So if those opportunities present themselves, so be it. Otherwise we've got an outstanding group of quarterbacks right now.

"We believe we can win with those quarterbacks and we're preparing as if they're going to be the group we're working with and we'll see what other opportunities present themselves if that happens."

So what about the bonus due to Kolb on March 17? Have the Cardinals talked about whether or not they're going to exercise it?

"No, we haven't had any discussions about that," Whisenhunt, not looking entirely pleased to be asked about it, said.

Graves was less direct about the discussions surrounding the Kolb decision, but also made it pretty clear (without being too precise) that the Cardinals will explore options if and when they become available.

"Every day you have to work with the information you have at hand," Graves said. "Right now as I look at it, we fully expect that Kevin's going to be with us so we'll honor the contract as it is, obviously. But we'll see what every day brings forward and we'll make that decision accordingly. Right now, as it stands today, we're not anticipating anything different."

Based on what Whisenhunt and Graves said, it's unfair to simply state that the Cardinals will ditch Kolb and chase Manning. But it's also pretty clear that such a process is something they haven't ruled out as of right now.

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Posted on: February 17, 2012 6:08 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 6:33 pm
 

Whisenhunt: Skelton, Kolb will get opportunities

Who ya got: Kevin Kolb or John Skelton (or neither)? (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The 2011 season didn't go quite according to plan for the Arizona Cardinals or quarterback Kevin Kolb. The former started the season 3-7 before winning five of six to get to 8-8; the latter played in just nine games and put up numbers similar to his backup John Skelton. Kolb threw for 1,955 yards, including 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, and had a completion percentage of 57.7; Skelton went for 1,913 yards, 11 TDs, 14 INTs, with a 54.9 completion percentage.

Perhaps the most telling numbers: Skelton, 5-2 as a starter, counted $450,000 against the '11 salary cap while Kolb, 3-6 before being sidelined with a toe injury and later a concussion, counted $4,000,000 against the cap (it increases to $10 million in '12 and $13 million in '13). This comes months after he signed a five-year, $63 million extension and weeks before he's due a $7 million roster bonus.

All this explains the speculation that Kolb could be one and done in Arizona, at least if the right quarterback comes along. Peyton Manning has been name-checked, but that's a long shot for any number of reasons. e

Earlier this week, Cardinals general manager Rod Graves spoke about Kolb's future, particularly with respect to the $7 million bonus coming his way on March 17.

"There's no reason to think at this particular point that we wouldn't proceed with ... seeing the contract through, but things change as we go down the road," Graves said Thursday in an interview on KTAR-AM in Phoenix (via NFL.com).

Maybe Year 2 will be better than Year 1, but it's still not clear why the Cardinals thought enough of Kolb to send the Eagles Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and second-round pick, and then signed Kolb to a $63 million extension that included $20 million in guarantees. But what's done is done. And while it would be a mistake to stick by Kolb simply because Arizona owes him a lot of money, it doesn't sound like that's in the plans.

Head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who appeared with Rod Graves Thursday, was asked about the quarterback situation.

“Well the easiest thing to say right now is that we are in a heck of a lot better position at the quarterback position than we were a year ago today," he said via SportsRadioInterviews.com.

(By the way, this is what happens when you go from Kurt Warner to Derek Anderson, but only after giving up on Matt Leinart.)

"We’ve got two guys that we feel like can play (in Skelton and Kolb)," Whisenhunt continued. "They’ve shown at times that they can do things, they’ve shown at times that they are knuckleheads and it’s our job to get the players there on our team to play better. That’s what we’re going to do and I feel excited about that. I feel better about our quarterbacks on our team right now than I did last year from the standpoint of John Skelton; he won a lot of games for us over the last half of the season. At this time last year he was a rookie who played four games and that was it.

"Of course Kevin Kolb, we saw a lot of good things from him. The second half of the Dallas game was very impressive and more of what we were getting and the first game against Carolina and then against Washington, he made some plays for us and I think both of these guys are going to get better with having an offseason and being able to work on some of the things we feel is going to make them better. So I’m excited about it.”

So, will Skelton and Kolb compete for the starting gig?

"We’re always opening it up to let other guys compete for spots and the best players are going to play," Whisenhunt said. "That’s the nature of this league, that’s the nature of this game, and that’s the way we go about business. ... [W]hen you talk about the quarterback position that’s something that both guys are going to get opportunities because John certainly deserves it from the way that he played over the back half of the season and Kevin certainly deserves it from the reason that we went out, got him, and brought him in."

Which all seems perfectly reasonable unless Skelton actually wins the job. Then the Cards will have a guy on the bench counting $10 million against the cap (not to mention that $7 million roster bonus).

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 3:43 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:43 pm
 

Fisher, Murphy, Whiz now on Competition Committee

The NFL denied Harrison's appeal of his one-game suspension(Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The NFL's Competition Commitee is responsible for studying "all aspects of the game and recommends rules and policy changes to NFL clubs." And on Tuesday, Roger Goodell and the NFL announced that Rams coach Jeff Fisher, Packers CEO Mark Murphy and Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt were added to the Competition Committee.

Fisher served on the committee from 2002-2010 before taking a year off after the end of his run with the Titans. During that time, he was co-chair of the committee along with current chairman, Rich McKay of the Atlanta Falcons.

Whisenhunt has previously served as a member of the Coaches Subcommittee, which makes recommendations to the Competition Committee. Murphy played for the Washington Redskins for eight years, reaching two Super Bowls and being named to the Pro Bowl in 1983.

The three additions for 2012 join McKay, Stephen Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals, John Mara of the New York Giants, Ozzie Newsome of the Baltimore Ravens and Rick Smith of the Houston Texans on the committee.

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Posted on: February 6, 2012 7:21 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 2:26 pm
 

Steelers hire Todd Haley as OC

Haley's taking his old boss' old job in Pittsburgh. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Todd Haley's going to have a new gig in 2012 and it's a pretty good one: he's headed to Pittsburgh to take over as offensive coordinator after Bruce Arians recently "retired" to take the Colts job.

“I am excited about the opportunity to come back home and work for a tremendous organization,” Haley said in a statement. “It is an honor to work with the Rooney family and Coach Tomlin and continue the success that has become synonymous with the Steelers. My father has so many fond memories both from his playing days and his time in the personnel department with the team, and I look forward to helping bring more championships to Pittsburgh and to being a part of one of the storied franchises in the NFL.”

When Haley was head coach of the Chiefs, his team never finished with a passing offense ranked any higher than 25th. And Haley topped out at ranking 18th in passing attempts in his first year in KC.

But while he was with the Cardinals, under former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Haley slung the ball around like crazy. Arizona, at the time with Kurt Warner, finished second in passing attempts both seasons and was top 10 in the league in points scored both seasons.

Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders provide a much closer approximation to those Warner teams than Matt Cassell and Dwayne Bowe do.

We'd heard word that Haley was interviewing with the Cards, but also that Haley didn't want to take anything less than a coordinator job. Pittsburgh gives him a fantastically soft landing spot after a rough tenure with KC.

It also means that both Roethlisberger (unhappy with Arians departure) and Art Rooney (wanting more points) should be happy. So it's a great fit, as long as there aren't any big ego clashes and the Steelers don't bug Haley's cell phone. Allegedly.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 6:22 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 6:23 pm
 

Report: Todd Haley interviewing with Cards

By Josh Katzowitz

Last week, it appeared that former Chiefs coach Todd Haley was not going to find a job with his former team, the Cardinals, even though both sides apparently wanted it to happen. That’s because Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt didn’t want to remove offensive coordinator Mike Miller, and though there was an open quarterback coach position, Haley apparently didn’t want to take anything less than a coordinator job.

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Things apparently have changed.

NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora reports that Haley is in Arizona today for an interview and writes, “Based off what I'm hearing now, sounds like they may be able to find common ground this time and make it work.”

Haley spent 2007-08 in Arizona as the offensive coordinator, and in his final season before getting the Kansas City job, the Cardinals were a top-five offense.

With Miller in his first season as coordinator this year, Arizona ranked 19th in yards gained and 24th in points scored, but Arizona finished 8-8, somewhat surprising since franchise quarterback Kevin Kolb was out for about half the season and the team lost second-round pick Ryan Williams before the year began.

As for what kind of job Haley and Whisenhunt have been talking about? I have no idea. Maybe we should ask Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli.

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 7:05 pm
 

Much has to happen for Manning to land with Cards

Could Whisenhunt and Manning share the same sideline in 2012? (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Kevin Kolb was traded to the Cardinals almost six months ago. The team was in desperate need of something resembling a quarterback after Kurt Warner retired following the 2009 season, and Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton took turns looking completely lost in that capacity in 2010. At the time, we thought that Arizona gave up too much for Kolb. (They sent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to Philly, then signed Kolb to a five-year, $63 million -- $20 million guaranteed -- contract extension.) As the regular-season progressed and Kolb struggled with consistency and injuries, Arizona came to the same conclusion.

Neither coaches nor front-office types came out and admitted it, but they didn't need to. Kolb played in nine games, missed seven more with injuries, and finished the season throwing for 1,955 yards (57.7 completion percentage), 9 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and taking 30 sacks.

By comparison, Skelton, the second-year backup made seven starts, threw for 1,913 yards (54.9 completion percentage), 11 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and took 24 sacks.

Statistically, not much difference between the starter and the guy behind him on the depth chart -- until you compare their salaries. According to Sportrac.com, Kolb counted $4,000,000 against the Cardinals' 2011 cap (it increases to $10 million in '12 and $13 million in '13); Skelton came in slightly less than that at $450,500.

It's understandable that the Cardinals might a) have reservations about Kolb's future and b) consider other options starting, well, now.

Arizona Republic beat reporter Kent Somers wrote Monday about the recent speculation that the Cardinals would have great interest in Peyton Manning should the Colts decide to move forward without him. CBS Sports' Charley Casserly mentioned this two weeks ago.

"One team to watch (should Manning become available)? The Arizona Cardinals," Casserly said at the time. "They can get out of the Kevin Kolb contract and also Ken Whisenhunt's been down this road before. A veteran quarterback coming in at the end of his career? Kurt Warner."

Somers is quite certain the Cards would be interested in Manning because "The entire NFL, minus the obvious few, will go after Peyton if the Colts dump him."

Fair point. Somers then went through the logistical gymnastics that would be required before an Arizona-Manning marriage could take place:
No. 1. Manning has to be healthy enough to play after missing 2011 with a neck problem. That's no small hurdle.

No. 2. The Colts must decide to release Manning. As Darren Urban of azcardinals.com wrote, Manning is due a roster bonus of $28 million on March 8. Kevin Kolb is due a $7 million roster bonus on March 17. For obvious reasons, releasing Manning would not be an easy decision for Colts owner Jim Irsay.

No. 3. If Manning is released, numerous teams will express interest. But how many of those places will be attractive to Manning. This is, I think, where the Cardinals could have an advantage. Throwing to Larry Fitzgerald has to be an attractive prospect. With Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, the Cardinals have two talented young running backs. There are questions on the offensive line, however. The Cardinals' defense was stout over the last half of the season. Under Whisenhunt, the Cardinals have proven they are willing to throw the ball and to mold their offense around the strengths of an older quarterback.
In general, investing heavily in guys on the downside of great careers isn't the most efficient way to sustain organizational success from one year to the next. But Whisenhunt had Warner fall into his lap and they were one play away from a Lombardi Trophy. If Arizona has the chance to land Manning, they have to dump Kolb and do it, right? Because based on what we saw in 2011, the alternative, in all likelihood, is neither efficient nor successful.

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Posted on: January 7, 2012 9:20 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 11:58 pm
 

Report: Haley close to rejoining Cardinals

Could Todd Haley pull a Josh McDaniels and return to his old job? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

So much for Todd Haley and Tony Sparano "joining forces" as an offensive coordinating powerhouse. Despite an ESPN report Saturday, Haley, who was fired as the Chiefs head coach in December, is "nearing a deal to return to the Arizona Cardinals," a source told NFL Network's Jason La Canfora.

On Thursday, the Arizona Republic's Kent Somers reported that Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt was expected to meet with Haley, who served as Arizona's offensive coordinator in 2007-2008, including the team that lost to the Steelers in the Super Bowl following in February '09.

A contract could be completed by next week.

The Cards' offense has struggled the last two seasons, finishing 28th in 2011 and 31st in 2010. But the lack of productivity isn't becauase of Haley's departure but due to Kurt Warner's retirement after the 2009 campaign (Arizona's offense ranked 13th that year). Also not helping: trying to consistently score points with some combination of Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton or Kevin Kolb under center.

Some of Haley's critics might point out that he didn't magically revitalize the Chiefs' offense upon arrival, either. The team ranked 25th in the league in 2009, rose to 13th in '10 when the team won the division, but fell to 20th in '11 after Jamaal Charles and Matt Cassel landed on injured reserve.

When Haley left the first time, Whisenhunt promoted then-wide receivers coach Mike Miller to offensive coordinator. Somers writes that Whisenhunt "would have to create a position for Haley, which would mean either re-organizing his existing coaching staff or adding a coach," which indicates that Miller won't be relieved of his duties.

Now all the Cards need to do is talk Warner out of retirement.

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Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:51 am
 

Cards overcome blood, fainting to beat 'Hawks

J. Feely celebrates his game-winning kick (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

While the Cardinals and Seahawks didn’t get much play Sunday -- and probably didn’t get many viewers, considering the Bengals, Broncos and Raiders were all fighting for playoff spots at the same time as Arizona in games that were close until the end -- give credit to Arizona for winning the 23-20 game in overtime to finish 8-8 on the season.

And give the Cardinals credit for being tough.

According to his father, Larry Fitzgerald Sr., Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald (Jr.) suffered a lung injury at some point Sunday and was spitting up blood on the sideline, and as the Arizona Republic writes, quarterback John Skelton fainted before the game after he got his knee drained and then completed 22 of 40 passes for 271 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

But what was most impressive with the Cardinals this season was the way they finished the year, winning seven of their final nine games and giving the kind of effort that will ensure coach Ken Whisenhunt’s return next season.

"It's just exciting to see the fight in this football team," Whisenhunt said. "And to get that win was big for us."

Although the Cardinals didn’t have a shot at winning the NFC West this year -- not with the season the 49ers have had -- the way they ended 2011 has to be encouraging for next year.

"Football is much like life," Skelton said, via the Republic. "There are a lot of ups and downs, and you've just got to rebound and be able to stay on the straight and narrow. Sometimes the chips are down, (but) we have great guys on our team that know that even when the cards are stacked against us, we still have a shot."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com