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Todd Haley's Departure:The Play-Calling Will Change In Arizona

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Offensive coordinator Todd Haley stands with head coach Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Sean MorrisContributor IMay 20, 2009

Todd Haley vacated his play-calling post in Arizona's high-powered offense for a shot at rebuilding Kansas City.

Now head coach Ken Whisenhunt will get back to play-calling, which is what got him his job with the Cardinals in the first place.

Whisenhunt called the plays for Pittsburgh when they got their "one for the thumb" back in 2006. He had great success because the Steelers had a run-first offense and a talented young quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger.

But let's not kid ourselves, Pittsburgh was, and probably always will be, built around its defense.

In the 2006 Super Bowl, Roethlisberger's passer rating was 22.6, the lowest ever by a winning quarterback in the Super Bowl.

The year after that Pittsburgh went 8-8, missing the playoffs with Whisenhunt still as their offensive coordinator. There was something missing.

His name is Jerome Bettis. He retired a champion.

Although Willie Parker had far more attempts, he only scored five touchdowns for the whole 2005 season, while Jerome Bettis scored 12.

I know what you're thinking, "It's all about situational play-calling."

But that's the point.

All play-calling is situational and personnel related. The challenges Whisenhunt will face this year will most likely be with his personnel.

Whisenhunt wont have a top notch run game or a Jerome Bettis-type player to consistently get those important yards on third and fourth down.

A player like Bettis makes play-calling easier. Everyone knows what's coming on short yardage plays, but they just can't stop it.

Arizona was last in the league rushing the ball for 2008, averaging a meager 73.6 yards/game.

Whisenhunt also wont have a shutdown defense to win him games. His decisions on offense will now more than ever decide whether his team wins or loses.

In 2007, his first year with Arizona, Whisenhunt was calling the plays and they went 8-8, just like his last season with Pittsburgh. The difference was that .500 record was a big improvement for the Cardinals.

Whisenhunt delegated play-calling to Todd Haley last year, and his aggressive pass-first mentality gave the Cardinals an edge they never had before.

Kurt Warner plays his best when he's getting a lot of reps fast, which is why he looks so good improvising in the hurry-up.

They passed the ball 65 percent of the timea far cry from the ratio Whisenhunt called in Pittsburgh.

To make matters more complicated, the Cardinals will have Russ Grimm as their running game coordinator, and Mike Miller as their passing game coordinator.

Russ Grimm was with Whisenhunt in Pittsburgh and they will want to run the ball more this year.

A risky move, but one that could make the Cardinals more of a threat outside their division if it works. They ended the regular season 3-7 against non-divisional opponents last year.

Tim Hightower and Chris "Beanie" Wells are no Jerome Bettis, but they could improve the Cardinals' run game with consistent touches. There's really nowhere to go but up.

Whisenhunt will have to pass the ball more than he likes to be successful, but it works for this team.

An improved run game will be good for the Cardinals, just as long as they don't lose their identity.

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