Whisenhunt focused on Bengals, not jobs

SAN DIEGO -- The coaching carousel may stop spinning before San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt has a chance to interview for one of the head coaching vacancies in the NFL.

And that’s just fine, according to Whisenhunt.

“That’s not something that I really even think about,” said Whisenhunt, when asked if he expected to be a head coach somewhere else next year on Thursday. “I think I’m very lucky to have had that opportunity, but I’m also very lucky that [Chargers owner Dean Spanos] Mr. Spanos, and Tom [general manager Tom Telesco] and Mike [head coach Mike McCoy] gave me an opportunity here. It’s been a great year working with these guys, and I’m excited about what we can do in the playoffs and in the future.”

The Houston Texans hired Bill O’Brien as the team’s head coach this week to replace Gary Kubiak, whom the team fired four weeks before the season was over. Whisenhunt reportedly was on a short list of head coaching candidates for the Texans, but could not interview for the job because the Chargers made the postseason.

Tampa Bay hired former Bears head coach Lovie Smith to replace the recently fired Greg Schiano. The only head coaching jobs that remain are in Minnesota, Cleveland, Washington, and Detroit.

According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Whisenhunt has emerged as a candidate for the Detroit head coaching vacancy.

Whisenhunt could be a possible fit for the Lions, who seek an offensive-minded coach to help take talented quarterback Matthew Stafford to the next level. Whisenhunt already has helped elevate the level of play with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, Kurt Warner in Arizona and now Philip Rivers in San Diego.

Whisenhunt also was a teammate of Lions general manager Martin Mayhew during his playing days for the Washington Redskins. Per NFL rules, teams have to wait until next week to interview Whisenhunt.

“Last week we were so focused on that game, crossing our fingers and hoping things would line up for us, that you just don’t pay a lot of attention to it,” Whisenhunt said. “And it’s the same way. People say things to me. I’m honored that I’m mentioned for that, but to be honest with you, the focus is on trying to get our guys ready to go on Sunday. And I think that’s the way you approach it, and that’s the way it’s been so far.”

McCoy said Whisehunt, who served as the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals for six seasons, deserves a second opportunity. However, the focus on the organization is on finding a way to defeat the Bengals in the playoffs.

“We understand right now that we have one goal in mind, and that’s to beat the Cincinnati Bengals,” McCoy said. “When you win, and you have players that have success, coaches get opportunities. But we have one thing in mind right now, and that’s beating Cincinnati.”