In his second year with the team, the Cardinals finished the regular season 9-7, then mounted a stunning run to the Super Bowl, beating Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia along the way. They lost a thriller to Pittsburgh 27-23 in the Super Bowl in Tampa.
The following season, Arizona won a franchise-record 10 games in the regular season and defeated Green Bay 51-45 in overtime in one of the most exciting playoff games of all time. But the New Orleans Saints pounded the Cardinals 45-14 the following week, and quarterback Kurt Warner decided to retire.
Things were never the same again as Whisenhunt went with an assortment of quarterbacks but could never find the offensive magic that Warner created.
The Cardinals went 5-11 in 2010, but after a 1-6 start regrouped to finish 8-8 in 2011.
Arizona started 2012 at 4-0 but it was a fool's gold record. The Cardinals lost nine straight and 11 of their last 12 to finish 5-11 for the second time in three seasons.
Quarterback was again the main issue. Most of the success came with Kevin Kolb at the position, but he went down with what turned out to be a season-ending rib injury in Week 6 and, with John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and, in the finale, Brian Hoyer, at the position, and with a woeful running game, Arizona's was the worst offense in the NFL.
Kolb remains under contract although the Cardinals may want to try to renegotiate since he's to make $9 million plus a $2 million roster bonus next season. Bidwill, though, was supportive of the quarterback.
"That's one of the questions that we need to really focus on with the coaching staff candidates is how do we see about Kevin and his performance and how we can turn him into the quarterback of the future here for the Cardinals," Bidwill said, "and make that decision — if he's the right guy. That's a question that needs to be answered but I'm not ready to give up on Kevin Kolb yet."
Kolb played for Reid, mainly as a backup, with the Eagles before he was traded to the Cardinals.
Offense was supposed to be Whisenhunt's specialty.
The Georgia Tech graduate with a degree in engineering played nine seasons as an NFL tight end.
Whisenhunt worked his way through the coaching ranks to become tight ends coach for the Steelers in 2001 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2004. After three seasons in that job, he was hired in Arizona to replace Dennis Green, who was fired after three losing seasons.
Graves joined the franchise as assistant to the president in 1997. He became vice president for football operations in 2003 and general manager in 2007.
"Working with talented others to build and enhance our brand over the past 16 years has been an awesome and totally enriching experience," he said in a statement released through the team. "It has been the opportunity that others only dream of. Every day I came to work I viewed it as the ultimate privilege and never once lost sight of that. "
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