Arizona Cardinals Made the Right Decisions to Fire Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves

Jonathan CullenSenior Writer IDecember 31, 2012

The Bidwills made the right decisions for the Cardinals today.
The Bidwills made the right decisions for the Cardinals today.A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

It felt inevitable after losing 58-0 to the Seattle Seahawks earlier this month.

According to the initial report by ESPN's Adam Schefter and later confirmed by the Arizona Republic's Kent Somers, the Arizona Cardinals have made the decision to fire coach Ken Whisenhunt and GM Rod Graves.

After a promising start to the season at 4-0, the Cards lost nine straight games and ended the season at 5-11.

Whisenhunt had a record of 18-30 over the last three seasons, simply not good enough in today's NFL.

But, this is a positive day for the Cardinals, even within the firing of Whisenhunt and Graves.

Not because they fired anyone, but because they showed that winning is as important to ownership as it is to the fans and players. The Cardinals were willing to absorb well over $5 million in salary by firing Whisenhunt.

Mediocrity won't be accepted for this franchise anymore. Huge steps in the right direction.

It also signaled a new era for the Cardinals. Michael Bidwill is running the show. During his press conference to announce the decisions and speak with the press, it was clear that he has become the face of ownership.

He is now making the key decisions. He watched this season unfold and acted accordingly. Whether he liked Graves or Whisenhunt, it was business. 18-30 is 18-30.

The question now becomes whether the Cardinals will replace Whisenhunt with Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, former Eagles coach Andy Reid, Broncos coordinator Mike McCoy or another name yet to surface according to this story by Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt.

The writing had been on the wall for most of the second half of the season.

Earlier this year, while New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was coaching for his job against the Cardinals, Whisenhunt remained far too stubborn, keeping Ryan Lindley as the quarterback for the entire game when a change was obviously needed.

The Cards eventually lost this game 7-6 and started to have signs of discord between the offense and defense, which I detailed here.

Whisenhunt's faith in Lindley continued a curious stretch of quarterback evaluations for the team. For a head coach known for his offensive mind, too often Whisenhunt made poor decisions at the team's most important position.

This is an unfortunate situation for everyone involved, but the Cards can ill afford to backslide after all of the positive momentum that the team has gained since Whisenhunt became the coach and the Cardinals moved into their new stadium in Glendale.

The Cardinals' inconsistency might be part of the reason why management decided to make a change. This is the third season that the Cardinals have had a significant losing streak.

This is not a time to celebrate Whisenhunt or Graves being fired. This is a time to reflect on what both men have brought to the team over the years.

The Cardinals are firing arguably the best head coach and general manager that the team has ever had.

For Whisenhunt, he will likely get another job this offseason and hopefully he will learn from his mistakes in Arizona.

Whisenhunt's early success culminated in reaching the Super Bowl, but it might have doomed his last three seasons. Whisenhunt seemed to have too much control of the team and personnel decisions.

But, make no mistake, Whisenhunt had a huge impact on changing the culture of the Cardinals and the perception of the team around the league.

If Whisenhunt gets hired by the right team, with a solid quarterback and a strong general manager, I can see him having an immediate impact with another franchise.

For Rod Graves, it unceremoniously ends well over a decade of service with the team. I've felt that the Cards needed to part ways with Graves once it was apparent that the team's lack of depth on offense still hadn't been addressed.

Today was a bittersweet day for the Cardinals, firing two men who have made the organization better.

But, it is a sign of the team growing up and moving in the right direction.


Source material used from the NFL, ESPN, Pro Football Talk, and Arizona Republic websites.