Arizona Cardinals: Help Wanted

Ken Whisenhunt (Getty)

Coach Ken Whisenhunt's staff of assistants will have a much different look in 2009, especially on the offensive side of the ball. There are currently three openings on the staff. One was created when offensive coordinator Todd Haley took the Chiefs' head-coaching job. The other two were the result of Whisenhunt deciding that change was needed.

Ken Whisenhunt fired defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast and quarterbacks coach Jeff Rutledge.

Whisenhunt prefers to fill the jobs from within, and that could create several changes on offense.

He already has talked to assistant head coach/offensive line Russ Grimm about becoming coordinator and planned to interview his other assistants as well.

It's likely that former NFL receiver Dedric Ward will move from quality control coach to receivers. Former receivers coach Mike Miller is a candidate for the coordinator's job, and it's also possible he could move to coaching quarterbacks.

If Grimm takes the coordinator's job, Whisenhunt will need to hire an offensive line coach.

No matter whom he chooses as Haley's replacement, Whisenhunt will call plays in 2009. He compared the situation to that of the 2007 season, when he called most of the plays, gradually turning the duties over to Haley.

Defensively, the two leading candidates to become coordinator are linebackers coach Bill Davis and secondary coach Teryl Austin. There are been reports that Whisenhunt is interested in Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler, but the Cardinals have not asked the Steelers for permission to interview him.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Defensive players were taken aback with the firing of coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

"I was shocked," said end Darnell Dockett. "Clancy is a good person."

--When offensive coordinator Todd Haley was named the Chiefs' head coach, he became the first Cardinals assistant to move into a head- coaching job since Jim Fassel went to the Giants in 1997.

"For us, it is flattering whenever your coaches are sought after and is a by-product of the success our team has had," Ken Whisenhunt said.

--Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's departure wasn't unexpected. It was reported late in the year that he could be in trouble, although many people felt advancing to the Super Bowl meant he would return. But Pendergast was never Ken Whisenhunt's preference for the job.

Pendergast was under contract with the Cardinals when Whisenhunt came in 2007, and the new coach was encouraged by management to keep him.

"As part of the evaluation process that's done after every season, I took a look at the last two years as a whole and felt this move was necessary to help us continue the progress we've made," Whisenhunt said.

--Todd Haley said he wouldn't have left the Cardinals for just any head coaching job.

"I had a great job in Arizona, loved everything about it," Haley said. "It had to be the perfect situation."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not going to keep this team together. You understand that in this business. That's part of the special season that we had, it's a special group of guys, a special group that will probably only be together this season." -- Quarterback Kurt Warner.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Cardinals are nearly $42 million under the salary cap, so they have the space to accommodate the big contracts required to re-sign quarterback Kurt Warner and inside linebacker Karlos Dansby. And they have the room to extend the deals of key players such as receiver Anquan Boldin and safety Adrian Wilson.

It's questionable, however, if they will decide to pay that much in cold, hard cash over the next few months. The organization's commitment to winning will be tested, and fans are ready to judge.

Cardinals ownership and management have talked often about how a new stadium has allowed them to better compete. Fans will be looking for them to prove it this off-season.

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