It's been a rather odd start to the offseason for the Arizona Cardinals. After ending 2009 on a rather sour note, funnily enough the focus hasn't been on the 2010 NFL Draft that is fast approaching in April.
No, the focus has shifted to a different area of concern for Arizona. The coaching position. It's taken a while to get to this point, but Ken Whisenhunt was finally questioned after his once well coached and stable team took an early and embarrassing exit in the postseason. New Orleans Saints 45 - Arizona Cardinals 14, the score card read, and the seat began to heat up underneath not only Ken Whisenhunt, but the entire Cardinals organization.
To make matters worse, Kurt Warner pulled a fast one on the team after sustaining a bone rattling hit during the Divisional Round Playoffs, that ended up being a convincing enough argument to call it quits.
With things going astray in Arizona, the future was beginning to not look so positive after all. Given, the team still has the talent to get the job done, there were still the odd question or two that needed addressing.
Finally though, at least one of those questions is able to be dead and buried. NFL.com announced today that head coach Ken Whisenhunt has signed a newly stated contract to remain the Cardinals leading man through to the 2013 season.
Whisenhunt, who is speculated to earn well over $5 million per season, is among the highest paid head coaches in all of the league. Fitting for a man that has turned a once "no hoper" team, into an offensive powerhouse that seems set to challenge for the title for many years to come.
"It is exciting that they think enough of me as a coach to do this," said Whisenhunt to The Associated Press by telephone on Thursday. Capping off his statement, Whisenhunt told the press that his coaching position provides stability and a reason to believe in the Cardinals playoff hopes in the coming years.
As important as this is to the Cardinals, it is even more important to the NFC West. After scrolling through the perennial "sleeper" picks of 2010, one team name comes to mind, the San Francisco 49ers. After having a rebuilding type 2009 season, San Francisco had their hopes set on taking the number one seed in the NFC West in 2010, and knocking overall favorites the Arizona Cardinals in the process.
As much as this scenario could still happen, it has now taken a step in the wrong direction, as Ken Whisenhunt's mere presence in the NFC West proves the Cardinals to be the clear favorite to take the honors once again.
The Super Bowl is still a long shot for the Cardinals. With new starting quarterback Matt Leinart set to take centre stage next season, Cardinal fans are pinning their hopes on a possible "Aaron Rodgers" type situation to unfold. Maybe an even bigger issue lies ahead though, as the Cardinals defense struggled to contain quarterbacks at the best of times during the postseason.
Now that the coaching position is sorted out, Arizona needs to get it's priorities straight. The Draft comes first. It's as simple as that. With a possible linebacker or corner back needed, the Cardinals are looking to snag some talent come April.
2010 is looking promising, but it still has it doubts. At least Ken Whisenhunt is in charge of the ship, and if history proves trustworthy, he'll do another bang up job come September.