Ken Whisenhunt has accepted the Tennessee Titans offer to become the team’s 17th head coach, the team confirmed Monday.
The Titans will formerly introduce him Tuesday at a news conference.
Whisenhunt had been the San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator for only one season under first-year head coach Mike McCoy. The Denver Broncos eliminated the Chargers from the playoffs Sunday.
From 2007 to 2012, Whisenhunt was head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. He led the team to two playoff berths, including a Super Bowl loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a 49-53 overall record.
The 51-year-old had interviewed for head-coach vacancies in Detroit and Cleveland. The Lions were poised to offer Whisenhunt the job and seemingly led for his services, NFL Network reported on the weekend. But he threw in with the Titans.
“This is a big day for this franchise,” Titans president Tommy Smith said in a statement. “Ken is a well-respected coach in this league, and I am looking forward to seeing his vision become reality for this team.
“He has a history of building successful offences and took Arizona to a Super Bowl as a head coach.”
Titans general manager Ruston Webster interviewed Whisenhunt Friday in San Diego and, in a statement, lauded the new coach’s track record and intelligence, noting “we share similar philosophies about the game.”
Whisenhunt is a quarterback guru of sorts. Not everyone believes his reputation is as shiny as all that.
While he nicely resurrected Philip Rivers’ career this season, and was offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh early last decade in Ben Roethlisberger’s formative years, Whisenhunt didn’t exactly turn the likes of John Skelton or Kevin Kolb into good QBs in Arizona, or even reliably serviceable ones, really.
The only NFL teams still searching for a head coach now are the Vikings, Lions and Browns. They’ve been interviewing candidates all month.
Perhaps they’re waiting for a hot coordinator candidate on a team that’s still active -- like both of Seattle's (Darrell Bevell offence, Dan Quinn defence) and both of San Francisco’s (Greg Roman offence, Vic Fagio defence).
Cleveland has now reportedly interviewed deposed Titans head coach Mike Munchak for its vacancy, raising the number of candidates the Browns have interviewed to roughly 1,000. Or maybe it only seems that way.
McCoy was asked Monday, in the Chargers season-wrapping news conference, whether he’d promote former Buffalo Bills quarterback Frank Reich to offensive coordinator in the event Whisenhunt left.
“I’ll let you know when we make those decisions,” McCoy said.
BIG LOSS FOR BRONCOS
Denver’s banged-up defence just lost another key player.
Starting cornerback Chris Harris Jr. tore an ACL in the win against San Diego and, obviously, is done for the playoffs.
Monday morning reports were confirmed a few hours later by Broncos head coach John Fox.
Earlier, Harris practically confirmed the fears via Twitter.
“Thanks for the prayers," he tweeted. "Gonna work extremely hard and come back a Monster next year. God is on my side. #broncosup.”
Harris also tweeted that he could “still do my part in meeting room to help my guys out.”
Fox was understandably disappointed.
“There’s no doubt that he’s probably one of our better performers on defence throughout this season. It’ll be the same -- we’ve lost some pretty good performers throughout the season. The team has been resilient," the coach said.
“We’ll take a ‘next-man-up’ approach and we’ll keep you posted on that as we go forward.”
Fox would not say who the next man is, though.
ProFootballFocus.com rated Harris the ninth best corner in the NFL this season. He was versatile, too, able to play left or right cornerback as well as the slot.
He’s only the latest star defender the Broncos have lost.
Pass rusher Von Miller tore an ACL in Week 16, while defensive back Champ Bailey missed a large portion of the season due to a multiple injuries and still hasn’t returned to top form.
Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin is undergoing the NFL’s mandatory concussion protocol this week. His status for Sunday’s NFC title game is up in the air … Saints head coach Sean Payton said Monday “it was fantastic to be back” for the 2013 season after his year-long suspension in the bounty scandal. Payton said the lateral-festival at the end of Saturday’s loss at Seattle was by design. Well, not the lame forward lateral that killed the play … The Bills fired linebackers coach Chuck Driesbach after one season. It’s yet more proof the team’s urgency meter is red-lining. There’s no patience anymore in Orchard Park for perceived obstacles to winning … Deion Sanders, who along with fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Rice will captain and help divvy players in the Pro Bowl, tweeted Monday he “WILL SUIT UP IN HAWAII. Please let @JerryRice know that a real captain leads by example!” Mm-hmmm. Shocker that an all-star game for current players, in Deion’s eyes, is all about Deion … Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn wants to stay in Carolina, but he does want a long-term deal, according to ESPN … Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said it’s great to have the best young passer in the game in Andrew Luck, but to win in the playoffs you need a potent running attack and be able to stop the run -- neither of which his Colts did this month.