SAN DIEGO (AP) - The San Diego Chargers hired former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt on Thursday to serve as the team's offensive coordinator.
New Chargers coach Mike McCoy lauded Whisenhunt's experience with the Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, saying Whisenhunt has a "very creative mind" and will be a great asset for San Diego.
Whisenhunt was fired by the Cardinals on Dec. 31 after six mostly losing seasons but he also led the franchise to its lone Super Bowl appearance in 2009. The Cardinals started the 2012 season 4-0, but lost 11 of 12 to finish 5-11 for the second time in three seasons.
Before coming to Arizona, he was the offensive coordinator for the Steelers from 2004 to 2006, winning a Super Bowl in his final season in Pittsburgh.
Whisenhunt interviewed for the head coaching job with the Chargers last weekend. McCoy was hired on Tuesday.
"It's really kind of a unique opportunity and some of the other times that I've interviewed, it's been always been in the position of the offensive coordinator, so if you don't get the job, you're obligated to go back to the team you were with and you're actually looking forward to that," Whisenhunt said.
"But since I really didn't have a team anymore, then I think you have a chance to look at the opportunities that were there. And I was excited about this organization and the way that they treated me and the way that they handled everything.
"As far as I was involved with that, you ask a lot of questions in those situations and I was very impressed with the answers that I got. And that's part of it, but once again, coach McCoy, knowing Mike and having the opportunity to work with him I think is an important piece of it.
Whisenhunt will work with quarterback Philip Rivers, who was sacked 49 times this season and committed 22 turnovers, giving him 47 turnovers in two seasons.
Asked about Rivers' decline, and if he can turn it around, Whisenhunt said: "I don't see it that way because when Philip came out I had the unique opportunity of working for a coach that actually went to NC State. Coach (Bill) Cowher went there. We spent a lot of time preparing for Philip coming out and had a very good feel for him.
"I've seen him play a couple of different times and watching crossover tape and have been very impressed with how he handles himself. I love the competitive nature of him. I'm excited to really get in and spend some time with Coach McCoy, and really look at him and see where he is. In my opinion, I've always seen him as a very good football player."