Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The biggest selling point to sway Ken Whisenhunt to become the Tennessee Titans‘ coach was the chemistry he felt with general manager Ruston Webster.
In a wide-ranging introductory news conference, Whisenhunt said his feel for Webster developed out of common friends they have around football and took off from there.
“Detroit and Cleveland both, great organizations, but I think what it came down to was you have to feel comfortable about the direction that you’re going and who you’re doing it with,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s not to say anything about any other organization.
“I think one of the things that I’ve learned in my time in the NFL is that chemistry is an important part of this. When you feel like you have that chemistry and you’re excited about it, that plays a big part in it.”
Whisenhunt said he will be the play-caller on offense “unless somebody tells me I can’t,” and brings a core offense that has been successful in several places with multiple people. It will have some up-tempo components.
He said he will not look to run a 2-gap, 3-4 defense, but intends to field a hybrid front that will make things difficult on offenses.
Webster talked of a “new culture” he wants the Titans to have, and said while the 2013 Titans under Mike Munchak were close, the team lacked it at times.
“That culture is everybody pulling the same way for a common goal of winning a championship,” Webster said.
The new coach was vague on questions about key players for the Titans going forward, saying he needs time to study quarterback Jake Locker and running back Chris Johnson and has a lot to learn about the AFC South.
“I want a smart, tough, disciplined football team,” Whisenhunt said.
Whisenhunt ultimately chose between Detroit and Tennessee. While the relationship chemistry may have been more favorable, so was the money. A source said the Titans are paying him $1 million more annually than the Lions would have.
Whisenhunt said he has no agreements with any assistants, but has several he’s interested in and a cell phone full of text messages that show how many would like to work for him. Many Titans assistants from Munchak’s staff remain under contract, and Whisenhunt will have a chance to speak with them and decide to let them go or keep them on.
Titans president and CEO Tommy Smith didn’t meet Whisenhunt until Tuesday morning, after he was hired. But in phone conversations as part of the interview and hiring process he said the coach fit the characteristics he and Webster drew up together.
“Time and time again, it came back to Ken,” Smith said. “I’ve always said we were looking for someone who’s intelligent, who understood and wanted to play the type of football that we want to play here, which is hard-nosed. …
“I certainly have an intelligent man here who is well-versed in all aspects of the game, and the fact that he’s going to be the play-caller delights me.”
- Covered AFC South for five years for ESPN.com
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- New Jersey native and Columbia graduate lives in Nashville with his wife and son