As the Steelers’ offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt was around Joey Porter for seven years. That experience helped the now-Cardinals coach overlook the linebacker’s bombastic reputation and supposed diminishing skills while recruiting him to Arizona.
Porter agreed to a three-year deal with the Cardinals on Friday afternoon.
“There’s been a lot said and written about Joey — the bulletin-board material he gives to other teams and all that stuff — but in my experience with him, he believes in the team concept and knowing that being successful is about being unselfish,” Whisenhunt told me Friday night. “He brings an intensity and passion and will keep that level up throughout the game on defense.”
In other words, Whisenhunt was in search of a little more swagger on a defense that was gashed for 90 points in two playoff games last season. Since then, the Cardinals’ defense lost FS Antrel Rolle and LB Karlos Dansby. Whisenhunt mentioned Porter, DT Darnell Dockett and SS Adrian Wilson — the latter two Pro Bowl players as Cardinals — as focal points with enough versatility to allow the defense to move forward.
Porter, 32, wasn’t brought to Arizona as a piece but as a full-time, three-down starter. We’ll see how that works out.
The Dolphins had enough of Porter and eventually cut him two weeks ago. Last season, Porter still had nine sacks — 16th in the NFL — but there’s a lot of talk that he’s clearly no longer one of the league’s fiercest pass rushers. What Porter is and what he was didn’t matter to Whisenhunt and the Cardinals, who badly want to upgrade their pass rush and opted to delve in the shallow free-agent pool for immediate impact.
“I watched more than 400 snaps, and I still see his ability to make those plays,” Whisenhunt said of Porter. “He also fills an area we needed to address.”
The Cardinals need to get after the quarterback, and they will go about re-tooling their defense to do so. Porter is just part of the process. With the retirement of Bertrand Berry, Arizona could very well draft another edge rusher to develop.
Porter was said to have preferred Arizona over Washington, which is making a transition to a 3-4 defense — a scheme the Cardinals have played for years. Arizona’s version is different than the traditional schemes of Pittsburgh, Baltimore and New England, and the multiple fronts the Cardinals use could play to Porter’s strengths.
The Cardinals aren’t saying if they felt they might have lost Porter to Washington — Porter visited Arizona first — but Porter’s trek to Redskins Park sure did make things come together pretty quickly Friday.