Arizona Cardinals: 4 Ways Ken Whisenhunt Is Saving His Job This Season

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIOctober 9, 2012

Arizona Cardinals: 4 Ways Ken Whisenhunt Is Saving His Job This Season

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    Who would have thought that after five games into 2012, the Arizona Cardinals would be tied for the division lead. But here we are, the Cardinals are 4-1 and tied with the 49ers for first place in the NFC West.

    While this season means a lot for 'Zona, it might mean the most for head coach Ken Whisenhunt.

    After making two playoff appearances in his first three years with the Cardinals, Whisenhunt's last two seasons have been sub par, combing for a 13-19 record.

    He was certainly in the hot seat coming into the season.

    Now Arizona is back in the thick of things, and they look like a team that could stick around. A lot of that is due to Whisenhunt and what he's been able to get this team to do.

Trusting Kevin Kolb

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    When John Skelton went down in the first game of the season, there was plenty reason for Cardinal fans to be concerned.

    Instead of panicking, Whisenhunt turned to his backup, Kevin Kolb. Kolb led Arizona on a fourth quarter drive, ensuring a 20-16 win.

    Since then, Kolb's been a catalyst for the offense, averaging 244 yards per game. He has seven touchdowns and only two interceptions.

    Kolb remains a solid option for Arizona, and it doesn't hurt that he has the full support of his coach.

Shoring Up on Defense

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    One of the big factors in Arizona's hot start is the play of the defense.

    As it stands, they're 11th in yards per game and fifth in points per game. They've also forced 11 turnovers (five interceptions and six fumbles), providing more opportunities for their slowly improving offense. 

    This defense came into the season underrated, and so far they're holding their own against some good teams. 

Winning the Big Games

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    It's not every season that you out-coach Bill Belichick, and one week later beat down the Eagles 27-6.

    While the Cardinals' undefeated hopes came to an end Thursday against the Rams, it doesn't change the fact that they started the season off 4-0.

    Two of those wins came against powerhouses in New England and Philadelphia. The two others were big comeback victories against Seattle and Miami.

    With games against San Francisco, Green Bay and Atlanta still on the schedule, Whisenhunt has plenty of chances to prove his worth before the season is over.

Getting Larry Fitzgerald Back into the Offense

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    No one expects Larry Fitzgerald to struggle, but that's exactly how he kicked off the season. Through 'Zona's first two games he had just five receptions for 67 yards and no touchdowns.

    After the New England game—where Fitzgerald had just one catch—Whisenhunt was quoted as saying "Larry is going to have his catches. We're certainly going to make sure we work on that."

    Whisenhunt kept good on his word, getting his star wideout back into the offense. He bounced back in Week 3, recording nine receptions and a season-high 114 yards.