Put your money on Whisenhunt

With the Super Bowl only a couple of weeks away, the NFL silly season is just about set to begin.<br><br> But for the Steelers, the silly season began with head coach Bill Cowher's firing of defensive coordinator Tim Lewis and wide receivers coach Kenny Jackson. Little did Cowher know when he was letting both men go that it would kick off the most tumultuous period of his 12-year tenure.

Following Lewis and Jackson out the door to greener pastures were offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, quarterbacks coach Tom Clements and secondary coach Willy Robinson.

Dick LeBeau's hiring on Friday as the team's new defensive coordinator stemmed the tide of guys walking out the door, but there's no denying the fact Cowher's staff is currently in turmoil.

Cowher will begin speaking to possible replacements this week at the Senior Bowl practices, but his next big hire will more than likely come from his own staff unless somebody knocks his socks off. That means either tight ends coach Ken Whisenhunt or offensive line coach Russ Grimm will be the team's next offensive coordinator.

Both men have their strong points.

Whisenhunt is cut out of the same mold as Mularkey. Like Mularkey, Whisenhunt cut his teeth in the NFL as a tight end. And like Mularkey, Whisenhunt is a quiet, cerebral kind of coach who is meticulous almost to a fault.

Grimm, meanwhile, would be a throwback for Cowher to the days when Ron Erhardt ran his offense. A former NFL offensive lineman, Grimm is a gregarious, outgoing leader who brings out the best in the players he works with. Whether that would translate to Grimm being able to deal with an entire offensive unit is something Cowher has to decide.

The guess here is that Cowher will go with Whisenhunt, who will run an offense similar to the one Mularkey employed during his tenure with the Steelers.

Will Grimm be upset at being passed over? Maybe. But Grimm was shocked to learn the Chicago Bears wanted him to be their head coach. He then shocked the media across the country by becoming a finalist for that job along with St. Louis defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, who eventually got the position.

Whisenhunt has had his sights set on a career as a coordinator and then perhaps a higher goal for a long time now. He has planned his life with that goal in mind. Grimm, meanwhile, had no such lofty goals.

Maybe he does now. And maybe this offseason will be the taste he needs to spur him down that road.

But with so much on the line for Cowher right now, don't expect him to experiment with something new. Like the hiring of LeBeau, Cowher is going to go with what he knows. And right now, that's Whisenhunt.

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