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Old 09-27-2007, 10:16 PM   #1
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Default Years of studying pay off for Whisenhunt

Years of studying pay off for Whisenhunt
By Mike Prisuta
Thursday, September 27, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. - Ken Whisenhunt didn't write the book on Steelers football, but he read it.

And he was taking notes.

On X's and O's and, more significant, on how to run an NFL team, something Whisenhunt is doing for the first time this season as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

"I kept notes, yeah," Whisenhunt said. "Every time coach (Bill Cowher) talked to the team. If we had West Coast travel and we left two days ahead of time, I have the itineraries, what we did, how we did it.

"When we're faced with a situation (in Arizona), like last week we went out on Friday to Baltimore, I know how to operate because that's how we did it (in Pittsburgh), and I feel like it was successful for us."

Whisenhunt had a great deal to do with the Steelers' success over the past six seasons, initially as the tight ends coach from 2001-03 and then as the offensive coordinator from 2004-06.

He's brought some of the tricks and gimmicks employed in Pittsburgh with him.

The first play the Cardinals ran on their first possession of their first home preseason game was a reverse pass from wide receiver Anquan Boldin to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald that went for 45 yards (think Antwaan Randle El to Hines Ward in Super Bowl XL).

In the regular-season opener on Sept. 10 at San Francisco, Whisenhunt called for a direct snap to Boldin that went for 14 yards.

Last Sunday in Baltimore, the Cardinals successfully executed a surprise onside kick when trailing, 20-6, in the third quarter.

The Cardinals host the Steelers on Sunday.

Whisenhunt won't be running from the sideline to the library to make any such calls.

The notes are more beneficial between Sundays.

His chronicles include "how we did practice schedules," Whisenhunt said. "How (Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau) and I talked about how we were going to get things done in practice.

"I have books in my office right now that have all the plans from all our games: 'Hey, what did we run here? Remember when we did this?' I'll just go to my books and look at some of the things that we did.

"It's almost like having an operations manual that you can use as a reference."

Whisenhunt has been a note-taker since joining the Falcons as a tight end from Georgia Tech in 1985.

"I have notes from when I was a player and Dan Henning and Joe Gibbs were running things," Whisenhunt said. "I consciously did it as a coach because I wanted to learn. Even how we operated in the scouting department, how (Steelers director of football operations) Kevin Colbert did it. Some of the things the Rooneys did and how they handled situations."

Whisenhunt has no idea if the practice of note-taking is common in the NFL, but he's found his record-keeping invaluable since becoming a head coach.

"There's a lot more things that go into this than I ever thought," he said. "I'm very lucky I was around head coaches like Bill Cowher and Joe Gibbs and Dan Henning that I feel gave me an idea of how to operate."


Ken Whisenhunt has been taking notes on football and coaching since leaving Georgia Tech with a degree in civil engineering.

His frame of reference includes:

Playing career

? TE Atlanta (1985-88)

? TE Washington (1989-90)

? TE New York Jets (1991-93)

Coaching career

? Vanderbilt University (1995-96)

? Baltimore (1997-98)

? Cleveland (1999)

? New York Jets (2000)

? Steelers (2001-06)

? Arizona (head coach, 2007)

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Old 09-28-2007, 11:16 AM   #2
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Default Re: Years of studying pay off for Whisenhunt

He may have studied the book and taken notes in the margins but that won't win the game for him.

I look at it like this - I may read a book on how to rebuild an engine but if I don't have the tools to do the job, it won't matter what I know how to do.

So even though he has some of the tools necessary, he doesn't have them all!!!

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Old 09-28-2007, 11:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: Years of studying pay off for Whisenhunt

Saw a couple of interviews of Wizz, and he does not possess the commanding confidence that I would expect. In contrast, Tomlin knows exactly what he's doing and exudes confidence.

Like you said, 'Truck, he does not have all the tools!
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Old 09-29-2007, 11:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Years of studying pay off for Whisenhunt

i gotta hand it to coach whiz. hes done a fine job not turning this week into a grudge match. he has been professional and complimentary in every sense of the word.

the closer to game time the more friendly the local articles have become. after some early week fishing the wraps have nothing to fall back on other than the feel good stories theyve had in the works for months.

no mangina/balichick/jets/parcels/patriots type venom here:



Whisenhunt began taking notes years ago, not because he always thought he would be a head coach, but rather because it's what he did when he was a student who earned a degree in civil engineering at Georgia Tech. Now that he's a head coach, the notes come in handy.

"Coach Cowher let me do a lot of things that helped prepare me for this job," Whisenhunt said. "He had confidence in me to allow me to grow. Every time I come to a situation where I think, how am I going to handle this, how are we going to operate this, I always go back to what I know is successful. Being a part of a successful organization gives me the idea that this is how I want to handle it."
i think whiz woulda made a fine head coach for the steelers and can possibly do twice as much for the cardinals as rev. marv lewis has for the bungles. however im more than content with the guy we got

Tomlin is off to one of the most impressive starts for rookie head coaches in NFL history, leading the Steelers to three lopsided victories in which they've outscored the opposition, 97-26. The 71-point differential is the second most for a rookie head coach since 1960, surpassed only by Houston's Wally Lemm (84 points) in 1961, according to Stats LLC.
after tomorrow, i hope whiz leads his team on an undefeated streak, and perhaps the steelers can play them in arizona 1 more time before 07 is done. i doubt it, but it sure would be perfect.

(and i am glad i wont have to worry about batch subbing for ben in "no huddle" offense in tomorrows game, even though batch has proven hes more than capable)
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Old 09-30-2007, 01:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: Years of studying pay off for Whisenhunt

[QUOTE=tony hipchest;301060] however im more than content with the guy we got


Pardon the USC comparison because it's not but I suffered through unbearable coaching changes thanks to Mike "psycho-a-hole" Garrett.

But the comparison here is that we not only got a guy we should be "content" with but rather the perfect fit.

Picture the most radical shape of the puzzle and Tomlin is the perfect fit. It's not because we are 3-0. You (I) got the sense that we have something special.

I've got the same feeling with Tomlin that I got with Carroll in his first year. Not unlike Robert Duvalls character in Apocalypse Now...

It smells of victory.
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Old 09-30-2007, 04:35 AM   #6
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Default Re: Years of studying pay off for Whisenhunt

I'm suprised Whiz hasnt called Bill (Cowher) this week and asked just how to get into Lebeau's head. Just dont see it happening myself. I look for Dick to really bring the pressure early against Leinhart today. I wish the Cards and Whiz all the luck in the world but not today..
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