Many of the questions Ken Whisenhunt was peppered with at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Thursday morning centered not on the Tennessee Titans, but about a pair of jobs he interviewed for and did not take.
Whisenhunt was asked about his banter with Cleveland Browns recently fired CEO Joe Banner and also why he didn’t take the opening with the most attractive roster – the Detroit Lions.
Whisenhunt decided on the Titans last month, to the surprise of many, who believed he was a shoo-in to join his one-time teammate Martin Mayhew in Detroit and guide the likes of Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh and Reggie Bush. When Whisenhunt agreed to coach the Titans, the Lions settled on ex-Colts coach Jim Caldwell instead.
Whisenhunt said the opportunity with the Titans was the opportunity he chose as he was being courted by the other two franchises.
“I have a lot of respect for Detroit,” Whisenhunt said. “Martin and I were teammates, and it’s a good organization and I really like what I had seen in the quarterback. But once again, you’ve got to understand, there’s a lot going on in a short window.
“I feel very honored to have interviewed with the Lions, but they were looking at different candidates as well. You don’t have control of that situation, so when it comes down to the end, I had an opportunity with Tennessee and felt good about it.”
As for the Browns situation, a report emerged that during Whisenhunt’s interview with Banner, that Banner questioned the staff Whisenhunt might put together in Cleveland. In that regard, Whisenhunt again said the Titans were the better fit and wriggled free of answering much about the report.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I know that I felt honored to have an opportunity to speak with Mr. (Jimmy) Haslam and Alex Scheiner and Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi and I felt good about the interview. … I felt like Tennessee was a good opportunity for me, and I’m excited to be with the Titans.”
It sounds as if Locker’s future is much brighter as far as being a vital cog for the Titans in 2014.
“From what I’ve seen, Jake exhibits a lot of qualities that you can get excited about,” Whisenhunt said. “I think one of the strengths that we’ve done is trying to tailor what we do to fit the player and until we get on the field with Jake and see some of the things he can do, we don’t know. You don’t know which direction it’s going to go, but I’m excited about what I’ve seen as far as those qualities that he’s exhibited. I think the arrow is definitely going up, and I’m looking forward to working with him on the field.”
As for CJ, who has publicly balked about taking a pay cut from his $8 million base, his days as a Titan would appear to be numbered. But Whisenhunt would not commit either way on the running back’s future on Thursday.
“It’s a process you go through with everybody on the team,” Whisenhunt said. “This is a part of it, the draft, the Combine, and then free agency. Putting together the team is not an exact science. We’re under no deadline to do it. We still have a lot of things that we have to evaluate going forward.”
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