The Arizona Cardinals were right on the cusp of an improbable playoff birth in 2011, but just missed out in the final weeks of the year. The team has some talent on the roster and are playing in an NFC West that is wide open outside of San Francisco, but they've typically struggled to win consistently since their Super Bowl appearance.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt does not appear to be on the hot seat as of this moment, but could he be if the Cardinals struggle yet again on 2012? We examine the situation after the jump.
Pro Football Weekly takes a look at the coaching situation in Arizona in their latest article ranking the job security of all 32 coaches. Whisenhunt came in 21st, meaning 20 other coaches are safer than he is.
Whisenhunt has made the Cardinals relevant, leading them to their first Super Bowl (and within an eyelash of a victory), although the post-Kurt Warner record - 13-19 - is a bit shaky. Still, to this point, he has built up enough credibility and accomplishments to keep his job, and the team's rally from a 1-6 start to an 8-8 finish last season showed he never lost the locker room. Those are important factors. But how patient will the Cardinals be long term? Whisenhunt's contract runs through 2013, with a team option for ‘14. The coach invested heavily in QB Kevin Kolb, and the team's pursuit of free agent Peyton Manning was telling. Even though Kolb only has had nine games with the team, some believe he never will be the answer.
What Whisenhunt needs to do to keep his job in 2013: He must handle the quarterback situation with his head, not his heart, and that could lead to benching the well-paid Kolb for either John Skelton or, down the road, Ryan Lindley. Amid this QB situation, Whisenhunt can't lose too much ground in the NFC West. He's the longest-tenured coach in the division for a reason: because he's good at what he does. But another losing season, especially one with 10 or more losses, could end his run in Arizona.
We're now just a few short months away from what should be a great season in Arizona.
For more on the Cardinals, be sure to check out Revenge of the Birds.