The Arizona Cardinals today fired the two men behind the franchise's only Super Bowl trip, general manager Rod Graves and head coach Ken Whisenhunt. Both men had held their respective positions since 2007.
Whisenhunt arrived from Pittsburgh as an offensive-minded coach commanded with coaching up second-year quarterback Matt Leinart. His fate was decided, though, by a long series of offensive struggles once Kurt Warner, the quarterback behind that Super Bowl trip, retired following the 2009 season. Beyond Leinart's failure to develop, the past three years have been devoted to a series of nonetities at the quarterback position. A trade for Kevin Kolb failed to produce the expected results, and the less said of players like Derek Anderson, Richard Bartel, Max Hall, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Lindley, and John Skelton the better. All this occurred notwithstanding the presence of one of the best receivers in the league in Larry Fitzgerald. A major contributor to the Cardinals' offensive struggles has been an offensive line that Graves, Whisenhunt, and offensive line coach Russ Grimm, fired today along with most of the rest of the offensive staff, continually failed to fix.
The Cardinals jumped off to a hot start this year at 4-0, including a road upset of the Patriots. That was largely propelled by a strong defensive effort. The defense dropped off a little, but the defensive staff, including coordinator Ray Horton is still in place. Horton seems like the favorite for the job, though, especially as a minority candidate, he could easily draw interest from other openings around the league. Given the Cardinals' generally dismal franchise history and the current state of the offensive, though, he'll need a good general manager and offensive coordinator to succeed as a head coach in what looks like a much more competitive NFC West, though.