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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Dec 6, 2012 - 3:34 pm

ESPN's Clayton: Firing Whisenhunt would be a mistake

Ken Whisenhunt is the most successful coach in Arizona Cardinals history, having led the team to Super Bowl XLIII as well as two NFC West championships.

However, with his team mired in an eight-game losing streak, many think it's time for the Cardinals to part with their head coach.

ESPN NFL insider John Clayton is not of that school of thought.

"The mistake would be to let him go," Clayton told Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Thursday.

Clayton said Whisenhunt has proven to be a successful coach when given a quality quarterback, which he has not had since Kurt Warner retired following the 2009 season.

Arizona's post-Warner struggles have led Whisenhunt's record as head coach to dip to 44-48, and after three straight years of missing the playoffs, it's possible the coach's best times in the desert are behind him.

And while Clayton admitted he does not understand why Whisenhunt replaced John Skelton with Ryan Lindley a few weeks ago in Atlanta, he remains steadfast with his belief a coaching change would be one of the worst things the Cardinals could do.

"The mistake would be letting this coach go," he said. "He's too good of a coach, he knows offense, players play for him."

Clayton also pointed to the hire of Ray Horton to run the team's defense as a feather in Whisenhunt's cap, which is interesting since the defensive coordinator may be in line to replace Whisenhunt should a change take place.

While Horton has done a great job with the Cardinals' defense, Clayton says the 52-year-old is not quite ready to run a team.

"I think it'd be too quick to make a move," he said of Horton being promoted. "He's only been a coordinator a year and 12 weeks, and I think you settle into that role and you try to at least put more time in.

"If you rush to a job you may not necessarily be successful."

Clayton said too many owners these days are willing to take chances on coordinators with hope they can learn how to be a head coach while already on the job.

"That would be the case with Ray."


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