Whisenhunt says Licht smart with pro/college balance
Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt worked with new Bucs general manager Jason Licht in two separate stints in Arizona, and he said Wednesday that one of Licht's strength is dual backgrounds in scouting the college ranks for the draft and the pros for free agency.
"I had a lot of interaction with him, both in the offseason when you have a heavy dose of personnel decisions, but also in season when one of the most critical things for your team when you have injuries and you're trying to build the roster," Whisenhunt said. "He did such a good job with that and I was so impressed."
Licht started out as a college scout with the Dolphins, Panthers and Patriots, but also spent three years as New England's director of pro personnel before returning to Arizona in 2012. Whisenhunt said his experience in both sides helps him handle the wide oversight that comes with being a team's general manager.
"He's well-versed in both college and pro, does a great job with that," he said. "You don't necessarily see that, but I appreciated his ability to do both."
Whisenhunt, who was San Diego's offensive coordinator this past season, said he was reminded of Licht two weeks ago when the Chargers' starting center went down with a neck injury. The backup, Rich Ohrnberger, was a player drafted by New England when Licht was there in 2009 and signed by the Cardinals when Licht and Whisenhunt were there in 2012. He followed Whisenhunt to San Diego as a backup lineman and stepped up in a pinch during the playoff win against Cincinnati.
"He played for us in a couple of critical situations, that kind of player you can count on to come in and do the job," Whisenhunt said. "It gives you so much confidence."
And much like Cards general manager Steve Keim, Whisenhunt said Licht's communication skills will help him in a leadership role in Tampa.
"One of the things I really appreciated about Jason was his communication," Whisenhunt said. "He communicates throughout the building. I think he has great leadership ability and I think it's a fantastic hire."
Whisenhunt announced Wednesday that former Bucs assistant John McNulty, who worked with him during his time in Arizona, had been hired as his quarterbacks coach with the Titans. He cited McNulty's work with rookie Mike Glennon this season as helping him land a job that will have him working with another young quarterback in Tennessee's Jake Locker.
"I have comfort with John because he worked with me in Arizona, coaching the receivers and quarterbacks," Whisenhunt said. "For him to go to Tampa Bay and work with their young quarterback, making Glennon a better player and helping him perform at a high level for a rookie, that's exciting. This game is about developing quarterbacks and getting them to play at a high level."