Whisenhunt's Philosophy Paying Dividends

With free agency and constant turnover now a fixture in the NFL, developing a cohesive team environment is a difficult task. Coach Ken Whisenhunt not only brought a winning mentality to Arizona, but he's instilled a family atmosphere in the desert. AZRedReport.com's Brad Wilbricht breaks down the Cardinals new approach and how it will affect the 2008 season.

During the Cardinals previous coaching regime, the team severely lacked chemistry and leadership. Dennis Green was well known for his fiery temper and questionable off-field antics. Green often overlooked players' character and personal behavior, giving more precedence to on-field performance. Furthermore, his coaching staff was unstable during his tenure in Arizona. He went through three different offensive coordinators in three seasons.

With the new coaching staff entering their second season, the culture of the Cardinals franchise has been transformed. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has instilled a more disciplined system for his players to follow. These changes immediately paid off, as the Cardinals finished the 2007 season with an 8-8 record. It was Arizona's first non-losing season since 1998.

The Cardinals now feature a healthy mix of talented youngsters and veteran leaders. A great deal of emphasis has been placed on character and how players conduct themselves off the field. Team building exercises have become a normal occurrence, helping build chemistry and trust amongst players and coaches. Just this week, Whisenhunt canceled Thursday's OTA's as players enjoyed a team bowling tournament.

Many players have followed Whisenhunt from Pittsburgh to Arizona, confirming that players believe in his approach. LB Clark Haggans, TE Jerame Tuman, WR Sean Morey, and QB Brian St. Pierre are amongst the players that have arrived from the Steel City. The Cardinals also added veterans Matt Stewart and Bryan Robinson to help boost a defense that struggled last year.

With their new mentality and philosophy firmly in place, the Cardinals look to build on last season's improvement. With a stable of exciting rookies ready to make their mark, the organization will settle for nothing less than a playoff birth in 2008. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DE Calais Campbell and the rest of this year's draft class will play a vital role in the team's playoff run.

With the NFC West division shaping up to be one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, the Cardinals find themselves in an excellent position. Although their schedule will be much more demanding than last year, the Cardinals feature the experience and talent to keep them in the playoff picture. If Arizona is unable to turn the corner and become a contender in 2008, Cardinal fans will be left wondering if it will ever happen.

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