The San Diego Chargers hired Augusta native and former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt on Thursday to serve as the team’s offensive coordinator.
New Chargers coach Mike McCoy lauded Whisenhunt’s experience with the Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, saying Whisenhunt has a “very creative mind” and will be a great asset for San Diego.
Whisenhunt, who played for Richmond Academy, Georgia Tech and in the NFL, was fired by the Cardinals on Dec. 31 after six mostly losing seasons but he also led the franchise to its lone Super Bowl appearance in 2009. The Cardinals started the 2012 season 4-0, but lost 11 of 12 to finish 5-11 for the second time in three seasons.
Before coming to Arizona, he was the offensive coordinator for the Steelers from 2004 to 2006, winning a Super Bowl in his final season in Pittsburgh.
JAGUARS: The Jaguars hired Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley as the franchise’s fifth head coach Thursday, the latest move in the team’s rebuilding project.
The 46-year-old Bradley joins general manager Dave Caldwell, who led the coaching search after being hired last week.
Bradley spent the last four seasons in Seattle, earning a reputation as a fiery assistant who demanded – and often got – the most from his players.
CARDINALS: Arizona has filled the NFL’s final head coaching vacancy by hiring Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
The 60-year-old longtime assistant went 9-3 as Colts interim head coach while Chuck Pagono was undergoing treatment for leukemia last season.
EAGLES: Torn between loyalty to his players and accepting a new challenge, Chip Kelly ultimately chose the NFL and Philadelphia.
He just needed more time to make the decision.
“The hardest thing for me to do was to leave Oregon,” Kelly said Thursday at a news conference introducing him as the 21st coach in team history. “I knew it was a great fit, but it was whether I could leave what I have. I love those guys and it had to be a special place for me to leave.”
The Eagles hired Kelly on Wednesday, giving him a five-year contract and ending an exhaustive search to replace Andy Reid.
The offensive innovator was lured away from Oregon, where he went 46-7 in four seasons and turned the program into a national powerhouse.
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Home sweet home. Sure works for the Patriots in the AFC title game.
New England gets a chance to extend its mastery in the final step to the Super Bowl on Sunday against Baltimore, the team the Patriots beat a year ago for the conference crown.
That win made them 4-0 in home conference title games.
Although they were more vulnerable at home than usual during the 2012 regular season, losing to Arizona and San Francisco, the Patriots (13-4) are happy not to be heading to Baltimore (12-6) this weekend.
“Everything is on deck,” Patriots Pro Bowl defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. “You have to put everything you have into this game. If you lose you go home, plain and simple.”
SUIT DISMISSED: New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s defamation lawsuit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the bounty case was dismissed by a federal judge on Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan in New Orleans ruled in favor of Goodell’s motion to dismiss Vilma’s complaint, which was filed in May and set out 11 claims. Vilma had argued that Goodell made false statements, tarnishing the player’s reputation, in connection with the league’s investigation of what it determined was a system that offered cash bonuses to Saints players for big hits from 2009-11.