Embattled coach, Cards vow to keep fighting
TEMPE, Ariz. — The only significant news coming from the Arizona Cardinals complex on Monday was that there was no news, unless you count Darnell Dockett’s running feud with head coach Ken Whisenhunt, which is actually old news.
Nobody was talking about imminent change. Whisenhunt is still the coach. Ray Horton is not. Rod Graves is still the general manager. Mike Miller is still the offensive coordinator. Quarterback Kevin Kolb is still injured, and team president Michael Bidwill is still a ghost.
Despite repeated interview requests over the past week, Bidwill has not spoken publicly on any team topic of interest, whether it’s Whisenhunt’s job status, the direction of the club or the location of the team’s 2013 training camp.
Despite increased scrutiny and criticism of his job performance, Whisenhunt showed no outward signs on Monday that such attention is impacting his approach.
“I was a college walk-on, a 12th-round draft pick in the NFL, so I’ve always been in situations where you had to fight,” Whisenhunt said.
Clearly, Whisenhunt has a fight on his hands after the Cardinals dropped their ninth consecutive game on Sunday in historic fashion. Seattle’s 58-0 win was the worst defeat in franchise history and gave the Cards their first nine-game losing streak since 1944.
Whisenhunt, who has one year (plus a team option) and between $5.5 and $6 million left on his contract, is fighting for his job, but it does not appear he has lost the ear of his players — with the possible, and possibly temporary, exception of the ever-emotional Dockett.
When asked Monday if he still had faith in his coaches and teammates, Dockett professed allegiance to Horton, the defensive coordinator; Ron Aiken, the defensive line coach; and a host of defensive teammates. Noticeably absent in that litany of names was Whisenhunt’s. When pressed if he still had faith in Whisenhunt, Dockett said: “No comment,” and quickly turned to another reporter for another question.
Dockett is clearly still miffed about his fine — reportedly between $100,000 and $200,000 — as well as his benching at the start of Sunday’s game after a well-publicized incident with teammate Kerry Rhodes late in a loss to the New York Jets.
But the rest of team appears to support Whisenhunt, despite outside chatter from those such as Larry Fitzgerald’s father, who accused the team of quitting Sunday in Seattle.
“When the chips get down, that’s when a lot of these rumors start to come out,” quarterback John Skelton said. “I don’t think any of those rumors started inside the locker room or guys are pointing fingers or anything. Guys are going to continue to come to work as long as they tell us to.”
If anyone has a bone to pick with Whisenhunt besides Dockett, it would be the human revolving door, Skelton, or defensive captain Adrian Wilson, whose role has diminished this season. But neither was professing dissatisfaction with anything other than the club’s habitual losing. And nobody professed to witnessing any quit in the Cardinals.
“I think we’ll stay together. I don’t think that will be a problem,” said Wilson, adding that there is plenty of blame to go around. “You can blame me. You can blame a whole lot of people. It is what it is.
“We lost a game, and we lost it badly. I don’t know what else to say. It’s like a snowball effect. One bad thing goes wrong, and then 10 other bad things go wrong. Are we competing? Yeah. We’re competing, but not at the level of the NFL.”
Whisenhunt said center Rich Ohrnberger played with a knee injury Sunday and compared that situation to when former starter Lyle Sendlein played with a torn MCL a few weeks ago. There was nothing definitive on Ohrnberger’s injury Monday, but if he does miss time, the Cards are left with rookie Scott Wedige, who was signed when Sendlein went down.
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