It's a surprising bit of news after we heard all of last week that the Detroit Lions were targeting Whisenhunt, a former Arizona Cardinals head coach. Rapoport reported Saturday that Whisenhunt was the "clear front-runner" for the Lions job, and the team was set to send its private plane to pick up Whisenhunt on Monday. That trip never proved necessary.
Rapoport said on NFL Network's "Around the League Live" that Whisenhunt liked the fit with the Titans' front office and the idea of living in Nashville. Whisenhunt was an assistant at Vanderbilt from 1995 to 1996. Rapoport added that Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer had a second interview with the Titans before they hired Whisenhunt, per a source close to the coaching search.
Whisenhunt was the head coach in Arizona from 2007 to 2012, taking the team to a Super Bowl after the 2008 season. His offense in Arizona struggled after Kurt Warner left town, but there was league-wide respect for the job he did taking a beleaguered franchise to its first Super Bowl. He always did a good job representing the franchise in public and is known for his work with quarterbacks.
Jake Locker has to be thrilled with this news. While Locker's long-term future in Tennessee is an open question, the hire of Whisenhunt gives Locker a better chance for success in 2014. One could see Whisenhunt's decision as a vote of confidence in Locker, considering that Whisenhunt could have coached Matthew Stafford in Detroit. The Titans' young receiver group, led by Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter, also holds promise.
The AFC South is perhaps the weakest division in the league, with two new coaches and a rebuilding Jacksonville franchise. Tennessee has enough talent to compete right away, something that probably isn't lost on Whisenhunt.
He's been around the NFL long enough to know that league owners are rarely patient, and you don't often get a third chance to be a head coach.