Steelers aide gets Raiders' interest


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Jan 22, 2006
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Steelers aide gets Raiders' interest

Oakland, though, can't interview Pittsburgh's Whisenhunt until after the Super Bowl
By Steve Corkran
And then there was one. As in, one NFL team without a coach. Or, just as Raiders managing general partner Al Davis' long track record suggested this process would play out.

Yes, folks, the Raiders are the lone team still searching for a head coach in light of Dick Jauron's hiring by the Buffalo Bills on Monday and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair confirming he has agreed to hire Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

Yet, there is hope. The Raiders intend to contact Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt about his interest in interviewing for the vacancy created by Norv Turner's firing three weeks ago, a person in the Raiders front office said Monday.

They had hoped to begin the process by now. However, the Steelers put a crimp in that timetable by beating Denver in the AFC Championship game Sunday and advancing to Super Bowl XL on Feb. 5. League rules stipulate that coaches on Super Bowl teams are off limits until the game has been played.

Whisenhunt, 43, was available for interviews earlier during the playoffs, but only the St. Louis Rams made a serious overture. (Ultimately, the Rams hired former Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.)

Not that it matters much now. The Steelers' performance in their three playoff victories likely said all the Raiders need to know about Whisenhunt's qualifications.

The Steelers scored 31 points against the Cincinnati Bengals, 21 against the Indianapolis Colts and 34 against the Broncos. All three games were on the road, against teams with respectable defenses.

Furthermore, the Steelers offense has made huge strides in Whisenhunt's two seasons as offensive coordinator.

They improved from 31st in rushing yards per game in 2003 to second in '04, and they were fifth in rushing this season. By comparison, the Raiders were 16th in rushing yards per game in '03, 32nd in '04 and 29th this season.

Whisenhunt has accomplished such success with a quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger who was in his first two NFL seasons, a slew of running backs and no reliable deep-threat receiver.

Davis said repeatedly in a conference call with Bay Area media Jan. 3 that the Raiders needed improved play from their offensive linemen, better production from running back LaMont Jordan and someone capable of generating more points than the Raiders did under Turner.

Whisenhunt is in his ninth season as an NFL coach. He coached tight ends for the Steelers from 2001-03. Before that, he was with the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. He played tight end for the Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins and Jets from 1985-93.

Former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and San Diego Chargers wide receivers coach James Lofton are the only three candidates known to have interviewed with the Raiders so far. Saunders and Marinelli took jobs elsewhere.
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