Around the NFC West: Dec. 26, 2012
The NFL realigned into eight four-team divisions in 2002. That remains the only time the NFC West in its current form brought back all four head coaches from the previous year and stuck with them through the next season.
Another change could await now that the Arizona Cardinals have lost 10 of their last 11 games in falling to 5-10 for the season. As Kent Somers writes in the Arizona Republic, something has to change.
"Whisenhunt's biggest failing in the past three years has been in personnel evaluation, not coaching," Somers writes. "He thought Derek Anderson was better than Matt Leinart. He and his coaches thought Max Hall was the next best thing. They made a bold move to trade for Kevin Kolb in the summer of 2011. Whisenhunt decided this year coming out of training camp that John Skelton was better than Kolb."
Arizona differs from its division rivals in that the team's general manager, Rod Graves, was hired years before the current head coach arrived. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I do think the other NFC West teams have more promising coach-GM dynamics.
Seattle and St. Louis allowed newly hired veteran head coaches to participate in hiring younger, up-and-coming GMs. The 49ers promoted Trent Baalke to GM shortly before Baalke participated in Jim Harbaugh's hiring.
Whisenhunt has one more season on his contract with the Cardinals. The team has an option for the 2014 season.
Having the head coach and GM put in place at about the same time appears to have advantages. I think it's tougher for the people in those roles to work as well together and trust each other as much when one has a shorter leash than the other.