It’s been over a week since the Lions cut ties with coach Jim Schwartz, yet only two coaching candidates interviewed. Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and former Houston Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak are the pair. Other names like Mike Munchak, Jay Gruden, and of course, the red-hot Ken Whisenhunt have surfaced.
Detroit is taking a slow, thorough approach to their process.
“It’s bigger than X’s and O’s,” Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew said.
He’s right. A brilliant football mind is vital, but there needs to a strong voice for leadership, discipline, and fundamentals. Someone needs to spread belief in the locker room of Detroit, that’s been corroded by failure and diminished confidence. Someone needs to toughen this team’s chin.
The current candidates don’t have much sex-appeal; Detroit’s front office needs to do major homework for certainty.
Let’s continue to examine the candidates of interest:
Jim Caldwell: Caldwell isn’t necessarily a bad call the way some groan about. He spent six seasons as a quarterback’s coach for future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, also assisting their 2006 Super Bowl victory. As head coach of Indianapolis in 2009, he took them to a Super Bowl. The Baltimore Ravens had a putrid offense in 2012 until Caldwell took over as offensive coordinator, aiding quarter back Joe Flacco and Baltimore to a Super Bowl win. He’s been a part of some wonderful coaching staffs; he could assemble one in Detroit.
Mike Munchak: Munchak was disgraced at Tennessee with a 22-26 career record, but did decently this season in going 7-9 with no franchise quarterback. Munchak’s Titans have gone through some rough losing skids, something Detroit experienced enough of with Schwartz and wouldn’t want to repeat. The Lions are ready to win now; it’s uncertain if Munchak can achieve that.
Jay Gruden: Gruden currently is the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincinnati’s offense ranks in the top-10, making Gruden glimmer around the league. What’s staggering though, is the offense has only scored two touchdowns in three playoff appearances, harming his stock. Head coach Marvin Lewis is 0-5 in the playoffs. Detroit, who wants to “get over the hump,” needs to look elsewhere. Gruden is apart of a peaked staff that can’t seem to decode Cincinnati’s kinks; he wouldn’t benefit the Lions.
Ken Whisenhunt: Whisenhunt, offensive coordinator of the San Diego chargers, was the man before and continues to see his stock rise as he’s been a mammoth reason of San Diego’s first playoff berth since 2009 — which they won. He’s got a knack for quarterbacks as Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner, and Phillip Rivers have all flourished under his guidance. The Lions are dedicated to Matthew Stafford; finding someone who can tweak his play is essential to their search. Whisenhunt fits the checklist of the Lions not only with quarterback credentials, but head coaching experience, being the head coach who guided the Arizona Cardinals to their first Super Bowl. Whisenhunt is the best candidate for this coaching search; Detroit has high interests in him.