The San Diego Chargers will face the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night in what will be Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt’s first trip back to Tennessee after getting fired last year. With the Chargers missing out on the playoffs last year, the team’s management feels Whisenhunt will be able to get their offense back on track and help the team get back into the playoffs. However, Vegas oddsmakers aren’t jumping on San Diego’s bandwagon yet because the team has one of the worst NFL betting predictions for the upcoming season.
Whisenhunt, who led the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008, was hired by Tennessee to turn things around, but he never had the magic he had at Arizona, and finished with a 3-20 record before being fired by the Titans.
The Titans drafted quarterback Jake Locker, whom they hoped Whisenhunt could coach into a franchise quarterback, but the often injured Locker never turned out to be as good as the team had hoped and retired last year.
While Whisenhunt was coaching the Titans, the team also didn’t have a consistent running game because Chris Johnson was never the same after signing his big contract extension. With the injuries, the team dealt with and the underperformance of his players, the Titans decided they needed a new start and fresh face in charge of the team, and hired Mike Mularkey to take Whisenhunt’s place.
Despite the disappointing stint in Tennessee, Whisenhunt was able to get the Chargers to hire him. The Chargers are hoping the Whisenhunt success as an offensive coordinator will continue with their team. For his part, Whisenhunt knows that a successful campaign with the Chargers will likely help him get another head coaching job, which is why the Chargers are one of the sleeper teams to watch this year.
When speaking to reporters about his return to the team he used to coach, Whisenhunt said going back to Tennessee is tough for him because he loves the city and the fans because they have always been good to him.
The former Titans coach was grateful for the time he spent in Tennessee, his players, and staff. While he said he was disappointed they didn’t win more games during his tenure at Tennessee, Whisenhunt said he was proud that his players never gave up and continued playing hard for him.
Despite Whisenhunt getting the blame for the Titans underperformance during his time as the coach, the blame for the team’s struggles can’t be put on just him. Whisenhunt had to deal with an unstable ownership situation and a terrible roster, which was put together by former Titans general manager Ruston Webster.
However, Whisenhunt does deserve some blame for not doing enough to protect his quarterbacks or alter his system to fit the personnel that he had. There are some people in the organization that still believe he did not take his fair share of the blame.
Second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota, who played for Whisenhunt before he was fired during the season, said it would be different seeing his coach as a member of the Chargers, but he is looking forward to it because he has a lot of respect for his former coach.