Whisenhunt must get next hire right

The 2010 Arizona Cardinals struggled badly on both sides of the ball.

They'll address those problems, at least in part, by seeking a new quarterback and a new defensive coordinator. The team fired Bill Davis, its coordinator the past two seasons, in a move announced Thursday.

This marks the second time in three seasons coach Ken Whisenhunt has fired a defensive coordinator. He inherited Clancy Pendergast from Dennis Green's staff in 2007, firing him after the 2008 season.

Whisenhunt, as an offensive-minded head coach, is not in a position to take over the defense if things go wrong. That's why it's critical for him to find the right defensive coordinator.

Pendergast's defense had failed to hold a fourth-quarter lead against Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. Arizona had ranked 28th in points allowed per game during the 2008 regular season.

Whisenhunt tried to hire Steelers assistant Keith Butler to replace Pendergast, but Butler remained with Pittsburgh. Whisenhunt then promoted Davis. The defense made statistical gains in 2009, but key young players regressed in 2010 as the defense failed to compensate for an even more dramatic dropoff on offense following Kurt Warner's retirement.

It's not yet clear which direction the Cardinals might go in replacing Davis. They could pursue Butler again. As Mike Jurecki of XTRA910 radio in Phoenix notes, the team could consider San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, should he become available.

The chart breaks down defensive stats for the Cardinals over the past five seasons.

2006-2010 Arizona Cardinals Defense