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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Dec 11, 2012 - 11:20 am

Whisenhunt's success changed Cardinals, will lead to coach's departure

Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt stands on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

As far as eras go, the Ken Whisenhunt-led one in Arizona has been incredibly successful.

Two NFC West championships. Super Bowl XLIII. Four non-losing seasons in six years.

It has also been disappointing.

The Cardinals won 27 regular season games in Whisenhunt's first three years with the team; they've won just 17 in the last three. That he had so much early success is undoubtedly working against the coach now, as most are somewhat understanding -- even forgiving -- when a team is building, but rarely tolerate going in the wrong direction.

And if the Cardinals did not hit rock bottom in their record-setting loss to the Seahawks Sunday, they're certainly damn close as they continue on that path.

Then again, if a 58-0 loss is not as bad as it gets -- with Seahawks fans having a party at the Cardinals' expense while feeling pity for the team's fans (seriously, an Arizona fan wearing a paper bag on his head was the most popular person on the building, with Seahawks faithful lining up to take pictures with him) -- I shudder at the thought of what could be worse.

The coach said Monday that, upon viewing film from the game, he determined his team did not quit. Everyone else who watched the game knows that simply is not the case.

So, as my colleague Dave Burns pointed out, it can be difficult to know when the end of an era is at hand. But at this point we all know it's time for a change. Many changes.

Whisenhunt and his staff will not be the only ones shown the door, though. Veterans Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson may be winding down their outstanding Cardinals careers, too, and by the time the dust settles the only players left from Arizona's Super Bowl team could be Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Calais Campbell and Lyle Sendlein.

And who knows, with no quarterback, a new coach and a big contract, perhaps Fitz may be on his way out, too. It all may be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.

Super Bowl XLIII was four years ago, folks.

Things were never as good as they were then and likely have never been as bad as they are now. Cardinals fans have experienced incredible highs and terrible lows during Whisenhunt's six-year stint as the boss, and while he will largely be remembered for his stubbornness and inability to solve the Rubix Cube that is the quarterback position, it's unfair to label him as a bad coach, because he's not.

In fact, he's the best coach in Arizona Cardinals history.

However, that's not reason enough to keep him around. The fear that the Cardinals cannot do better -- and who knows, maybe they can't -- is not a reason to maintain the status quo.

The pre-Whiz Cardinals would have settled for mediocrity, viewing a coach with a record as close to .500 as Whisenhunt's as a great success. But while the score Sunday may have painted a different picture, these are not the "Same Old Cardinals".

Disasters like the one Sunday will not be tolerated by fans, and it's hard not to see ownership feeling the same way.

After all, the Bidwills know what winning feels like, and fans understand the franchise can be successful. No longer is being not-embarrassing the goal, rather it's to be good. Very good.

And in a bit of an ironic twist, we have Ken Whisenhunt to thank for that.

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