Whisenhunt's last game with Steelers?

DETROIT – Ken Whisenhunt is the mastermind behind what's been the second greatest offensive eruption in team history. As a result, the mastermind of the Oakland Raiders is patiently waiting to hire him.

Al Davis has an opening, and he's waiting for the Pittsburgh Steelers' season to end. But Davis isn't offering money commensurate with what the average coach in the league is making.

That's the bright side for Steelers fans who've enjoyed Whisenhunt's work. The flip side is that opportunities – even for the most innovative of offensive coordinators -- are rare.

Whisenhunt said he hasn't been contacted by the Raiders, but that didn't stop reporters from buzzing about it on Media Day. Whisenhunt was asked what kind of situation it would take for him to leave.

"Being with the Pittsburgh Steelers, in this organization and how they do things, to me is an ideal situation," he said. "We've got a good young quarterback and we've got a good young football team. But the stability and how you get the support, especially from the head coach and how he does things, makes this an environment that's very conducive to winning football games, and that's what's the most exciting thing. You've got a lot of things in place that give you a chance to win football games.

"To be here, to be in the Super Bowl, that's what your goal is, and if you have an opportunity to do this on a yearly basis, it would take a lot to get you away from that."

Could Whisenhunt coach for an owner such as Davis? The head Raider has a history of looking over the shoulder of his many head coaches.

"I don't know," Whisenhunt said. "To me, the blueprint for success is the one I've been exposed to, the one we've had this year, and that's where there is give and take from everybody.

"It's not a one-man show. It's the offensive staff. Coach (Bill) Cowher has input and we come to an agreement, not just for a game plan but for personnel. Everybody has input. It's a team concept, not just from the players but from everybody else. To me, that's my model of success."

Of course, there are only 32 head coaching jobs in the NFL. A coach might be foolish to pass one up in the hope his team will become hot again. So the Super Bowl could be Whisenhunt's last game. He said the thought hasn't entered his mind.

"This is so new – going to the Super Bowl and getting into the playoffs and having success – that that kind of superceded anything else," he said. "To be mentioned as a potential head coaching candidate is an honor, no question about it. But we were so focused the last seven weeks on not getting eliminated that all that other stuff has just been on the side."

Whisenhunt calls Carolina offensive coordinator Dan Henning and Washington head coach Joe Gibbs his mentors of offensive football. Both coaches still base their game plans on power football, and Whisenhunt refuses to deviate from that base, in spite of recent indications.

Whisenhunt has opened up the passing game and the result has been 162 points in five games. Only the 1984 Steelers had a better stretch – by four points. Yet Whisenhunt remains loyal to his roots.

"Sure, the passing game has worked for us," he said. "But we threw against Indy because we knew they were going to come out and stop the run like they did the weeks before. And then last game, with all the pressure and blitz packages Denver had, we knew that some of the shots in the pass game were going to be good. But I think it's a week-to-week thing though. I don't think it's something you could say every week we're going to come out and do that. We're still a running football team."

But it's an unpredictable one, much like Whisenhunt's immediate future.


SB Report Top Stories