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Titans hire Chargers OC Ken Whisenhunt as new coach

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

After winning a playoff game with Philip Rivers, Ken Whisenhunt is headed for Tennessee. (USATSI)
After winning a playoff game with Philip Rivers, Ken Whisenhunt is headed for Tennessee. (USATSI)

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Just one day after San Diego was eliminated from the playoffs, Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt has decided to move on. Whisenhunt has accepted an offer to become the Tennessee Titans next coach, the team announced on Monday.

"This is a big day for this franchise,” Titans President and CEO Tommy Smith said in a statement. "Ken is a well-respected coach in this league and I am looking forward to seeing his vision become reality for this team. He has a history of building successful offenses and took Arizona to a Super Bowl as a head coach. We all share a common goal for this team and that is to build a consistent winner."

Whisenhunt interviewed with the team on Friday and was believed to be a favorite for both the Titans job and the vacant Detroit Lions job. Whisenhunt replaces Mike Munchak, who was fired by the Titans on Jan. 4.

Besides Whisenhunt, the Titans also interviewed Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and Jay Gruden (who took the Redskins head-coaching job).

The job in Tennessee will mark Whisenhunt's second stint as a head coach. The 51-year-old served as Arizona's coach for six seasons and led the Cardinals to the franchise's first and only Super Bowl appearance in only his second-year with the team.

The Cardinals fired Whisenhunt after the team went 5-11 in 2012, but he wasn't unemployed for long. Whisenhunt was one of the first hires made by first-year Chargers coach Mike McCoy in January 2013.

In San Diego, Whisenhunt took an offense that ranked 31st in the league in 2012 and turned it into NFL's fifth-ranked unit. After only averaging just over 297 yards per game in the season before his arrival, the San Diego offense upped its output to 393.3 yards per game under Whisenhunt's guidance.

"I have a lot of respect for Ken as a coach and as an offensive mind," Titans General Manager Ruston Webster said. "The traits that stand out to me when identifying him as our next coach -- he is intelligent, has a track record with quality offenses and head coaching success."

One of the first things Whisenhunt's going to have to do in Tennessee is decide who his quarterback is. The Titans spent the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft on Jake Locker and Whisenhunt will have to decide if that's who he wants to move forward with.

Whisenhunt will also have to deal with running back Chris Johnson, who said last week that if Tennessee's not going to use him the way he's suppose to be used, then they should just let him move on.

Besides coaching with the Chargers and Cardinals, Whisenhunt has also spent time coaching with the Ravens, Browns, Jets and Steelers. Whisenhunt spent six years with the Steelers, including three seasons as the team's offensive coordinator. Under Whisenhunt's guidance, the Steelers made it to two AFC title games and won Super Bowl XL.

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