The Chargers have hired former Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt as the team’s new offensive coordinator, Head Coach Mike McCoy announced today.
A former NFL tight end and H-Back with the Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins and New York Jets, Whisenhunt, spent the last six seasons as the head coach of the Cardinals (2007-12). He won a franchise-record 49 games during his time in Arizona and went 4-2 in the postseason, including an appearance in Super Bowl XLIII after a team-record 12-win season in 2008.
“Ken has a lot of experience and has had much success in the NFL in both Arizona and Pittsburgh,” said McCoy. “He has a very creative mind and will be a great asset for me and our team. I look forward to working with him.”
Prior to becoming a head coach, Whisenhunt spent 10 NFL seasons as an assistant coach, including six as a tight ends coach (Baltimore 1997-98, New York Jets 2000 and Pittsburgh 2001-03), one as a special teams coach (Cleveland 1999) and three as an offensive coordinator (Pittsburgh 2004-06). During his final season with the Steelers (2006), Whisenhunt won a Super Bowl ring as Pittsburgh defeated Seattle, 21-10, in Super Bowl XL. The Steelers drafted quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Whisenhunt’s first season as offensive coordinator (2004) and he helped coach “Big Ben” into one of the NFL’s top signal-callers.
Whisenhunt worked with another star quarterback in Arizona in Kurt Warner, who helped lead the Cardinals to their Super Bowl appearance and back-to-back NFC West titles in 2008-09, their first division title since 1975 and their first back-to-back division crowns since 1974-75. He and Warner spent three seasons together (2007-09) during which Warner passed for 11,753 yards and 83 touchdowns, including a team-record 30 touchdowns and 4,583 yards (second in team history) in 2008. That ’08 squad scored a Cardinals’ record 427 points, one year after the 2007 squad set a franchise record with 32 passing touchdowns and 404 points, second-most in team history.
Whisenhunt’s first three seasons in Arizona produced records of 8-8 (2007), 9-7 (2008) and 10-6 (2009) as he became the first Cardinals coach to go .500 or better in his first three seasons with the team. The Cardinals were one of the NFL’s best home teams under Whisenhunt as they combined to go 33-18 at University of Phoenix Stadium, including 3-0 in the playoffs. They were .500 or better in each of his six seasons as head coach, the longest such streak in franchise history. The Cardinals won an NFL-record four games in overtime in 2011 to improve Whisenhunt’s record in OT contests to 7-2.
A native of Augusta, Georgia, Whisenhunt played quarterback and tight end at Georgia Tech in Atlanta from 1980-84. In 1985, the Falcons drafted him in the 12th round and he played nine seasons in the NFL, including four with the Falcons (1985-88), two with the Washington Redskins (1989-90) and three with the New York Jets (1991-93). He played in 74 games during his career and caught 62 passes for 601 yards and six scores.
He earned a degree in civil engineering from Georgia Tech and entered the coaching field in 1995, spending two seasons as the special teams and tight ends coach at Vanderbilt. After two years in Nashville, he landed his first NFL coaching job with Baltimore in 1997.
Whisenhunt and his wife, Alice, have a son, Kenneth, Jr., and a daughter, Mary Ashley.