SBD/January 14, 2014/Franchises

Titans Praised For Hiring Whisenhunt, Who Gives The Organization A "Fresh Start"

Whisenhunt was previously seen as the front-runner for the Lions' vacancy
The Titans yesterday by hiring Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt as their new coach, "displayed an aggressive approach that not only got the attention of beleaguered fans in Nashville, but NFL observers across the country as well," according to a front-page piece by Jim Wyatt of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. SI's Peter King said, "The Titans did a really good job here. I am with so many other people who thought that Ken Whisenhunt was signed, sealed and delivered to the Detroit Lions. So for the Titans to step in like this and land him, it’s big." King: "In the wake of the sort of messed-up firing and negotiations with [former coach] Mike Munchak, you wondered ‘does this team really know what it’s doing?’ Well, this team wanted Ken Whisenhunt and they went out and got him. … My hat is off to [Exec VP & GM] Ruston Webster.” Wyatt notes Whisenhunt is "charged with jumpstarting a team and a fan base that’s been dragging of late." Interest in the Titans has "dwindled the past two seasons, with swaths of empty seats becoming the norm at LP Field" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 1/14).'s Schefter & Mortensen noted Whisenhunt was "viewed as the leading candidate for the Lions but both sides wondered whether it was an ideal match." Whisenhunt was "strongly impressed with the Titans and the potential working relationship" with Webster (, 1/13).

FRESH START: In Nashville, David Climer writes Whisenhunt is a "fresh start," and that is "what the Titans needed." Climer: "At least the Titans are getting someone with experience at overseeing an NFL team." That "wasn’t the case" when they elevated Munchak three years ago. Climer: "Try as he might, Munchak never grew into the job." Thus ends a "strange week and a half in Titans history." At the time the Titans were "finalizing the hire," a plane belonging to Lions Owner William Clay Ford was "prepared to fly to San Diego to pick up Whisenhunt, who was Detroit’s top choice." But the plane "never got off the tarmac" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 1/14). In Phoenix, Kent Somers wrote the "interest in Whisenhunt over the last two years indicates how highly regarded he is in the NFL." His tenure as Cardinals coach "didn’t end well, which can be said of most coaches in most places," but Whisenhunt is "respected for the job he did in his first three years in Arizona" (, 1/13).

MISSING OUT: In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes the Lions "couldn't close the deal on the head coaching candidate [who was] seemingly the perfect fit." It is "yet another slap at the Lions' organization." Losing Whisenhunt "puts the Lions in damage control." Whomever they hire will be "viewed as a consolation prize." Sharp: "Maybe missing out on the 'right hire' becomes a fortunate break few saw coming for a star-crossed franchise infamous for rarely getting it right" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/14). Also in Detroit, Bob Wojnowski writes, "This whole changing-the-culture idea might be more difficult than the Lions imagined." If Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell "gets the job in the next day or two, the Lions can’t expect to win the news conference." Lions GM Martin Mayhew will "have to explain how the apparent No. 1 choice slipped away, and how the Ravens’ 58-year-old offensive coordinator stepped in." Wojnowski: "Caldwell fits the Lions’ template on paper, but I have no idea if he has the presence to shift a culture and lift a team." It is "not entirely clear who is walking through that door, but it won't be the guy everyone expected" (DETROIT NEWS, 1/14).
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