Miller takes over play calling for Cardinals - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Miller takes over play calling for Cardinals

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Posted: Thursday, September 8, 2011 3:10 pm | Updated: 9:05 pm, Thu Sep 8, 2011.

(AP) — For the first time since Arizona's 2008 Super Bowl season, head coach Ken Whisenhunt won't be the Cardinals' primary play caller.

He has relinquished those duties to Mike Miller, promoted in February to offensive coordinator after two seasons as the team's passing game coordinator.

The team has not had anyone with the title offensive coordinator since Todd Haley left to become head coach at Kansas City after that stunning 2008 campaign.

"Mike and I have worked together for a long time," Whisenhunt said after the Cardinals practiced on Thursday. "It's a lot easier when you have the same beliefs in how you're going to do things."

When Miller makes his regular season debut in his new job Sunday against Carolina, he will be in the coaches' booth high above the field at University of Phoenix Stadium. He prefers that to calling plays from the sideline.

"I just think it's a more sterile environment up there," Miller said. "There's a little hysteria down on that sideline. I like having my sheets spread out. I like being able to focus and look and be able to see a faster coverage or a blitz show to me up there. I just don't have people in my way."

Whisenhunt gave Miller some limited play-calling chores last season.

"He's always been good with that," Miller said. "He looks to always give guys opportunities on his staff. But even when he was the guy calling the plays, he's been really good at taking input from all of us, and I'd like to think I'd do the same."

The 41-year-old coach said fans shouldn't notice much difference in the team's offensive concepts.

"I like to think we're attacking, at the same time we try to be smart," he said. "A long time ago, Dan Radakovich — a coach that I was with at Robert Morris who coached a long time in the NFL — always said, 'Find out who your best 11 are, what do they do best, and that's what you do.' I think that's the way 'Whis' is and the rest of the staff."

After two years as a graduate assistant at Robert Morris, Miller was quality control coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1999 to 2003. He spent two seasons coaching tight ends for the Buffalo Bills, then in 2006 went to Germany as quarterbacks and receivers coach for the Berlin Thunder of the NFL Europe. He returned for the 2006 collegiate season as the defensive line coach at Robert Morris.

When Whisenhunt, then the Steelers' offensive coordinator, became head coach of the Cardinals in 2007, Miller was not his first choice as wide receivers coach. But the man Whisenhunt had hired was arrested on a charge of soliciting a prostitute, and Miller lobbied for the job.

"I remember the day Mike came into my office and made a case to be the receiver coach after we had the incident early and we had to make a move at that position," Whisenhunt said. "He's worked very hard from when he was an intern at Pittsburgh to where he is now, and I have great respect for that."

As receivers coach in 2007 and 2008, Miller helped Larry Fitzgerald hone his talents to become one of the NFL's best. Fitzgerald is Miller's most steadfast advocates.

"He's one of the most intelligent people that I know, not only on the foot ball field but off," Fitzgerald said. "He comes up with new, innovative concepts all the time. ... My goal, honestly, as a friend of his is to see him be a head coach one day. I know if we play well, he's going to get his opportunity, and that is something that would really make me happy."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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