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Here we can break down the realistic candidates to fill the void, and we will also look at some long shots.
Ken Wisenhunt: Ken has done a great job as offensive coordinator in San Diego, and being that Detroit’s offense has so much talent and seems to fall flat all too frequently, that could be just what the doctor ordered. Plus let’s not forget about the Super Bowl appearance he coached the Arizona Cardinals to in 2009. The same team that he coached in Arizona that played at Super Bowl XLIII had a lot of talent, but the Detroit Lions team of right now is not only much younger than that [Cardinals] team, but they do have more raw talent.
Gary Kubiak: He had a great run in Houston while he was there. Unfortunately for Gary, the wheels on the bus stopped going “round and round” this season which resulted in him ultimately losing his job. Kubiak suffered a minor stroke during the season as he was leaving the field during halftime of a Sunday night game where Houston was hosting the Indianapolis Colts. He returned with his health restored, but the injury plagued Houston Texans still couldn’t find a way to win games, thus a change needed to be made and it started at the top.
Lovie Smith: While Lovie was a bitter rival of a coach being in Chicago, he was still a successful coach. Much like Ken Wisenhunt, he coached a team to the Super Bowl [XLI] and also fell short. Lovie is a defensive minded coach who likes to run the “Tampa 2″ defense which might not work in Detroit, but let’s look at some different things with Smith as a head coach for the Lions. The Lions have a better defensive roster than the Chicago Bears did in 2007 in their Super Bowl appearance. The offense? Well, Rex Grossman at quarterback, Thomas Jones at the running back position, and Bernard Berrian and Mushin Muhammad at the receiving spots. Do I really need to get into detail about how much better this Lions offense is? Lovie Smith, just like pretty much any available coach, has interviewed with the Houston Texans already as well.
Bill O’Brien: Currently Bill has an interview with the Houston Texans lined up, as of a few days ago, a source with the Lions said they reached out to Bill to try and get an interview as well. O’Brien is proven as a good offensive coordinator as his last year in New England [with the Patriots] they were the second ranked offense in the NFL, behind only the New Orleans Saints. During their bye week he interviewed with Penn State and agreed to sign a four year contract to become their head coach. We all know the stories about Penn State and what happened up there, ultimately what that meant for Bill was, a much harder task at hand because they lost a few starters and some of their bench players. During his time he has earned a 15-9 record, which sparks interest from quite a few teams in the NFL considering the level of talent he had to start with.
Bill Cowher: As recent as October Cowher said “never say never” with the fear of being considered a hypocrite for saying “never” and actually coming back to the sideline. Bill sends mixed signals every time he is asked this question, however I strongly believe that he would be considered for that of a General Manager role with a team is more likely to happen. If the time is right and the Detroit Lions position is open, I guess we can never say never.
Jon Gruden: The most realistic option of these “long shots” for head coaches as he seems to most open to returning to the field, and strapping on the headset. Gruden is a very big fan of the Detroit Lions defensive line, Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush and of course, Megatron. Now, being a fan of players and wanting to coach their team are two completely different things, however, did anyone notice that there was much more intrigue in his interviews during his time in Detroit for the Monday Night showdown against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens? Granted, the largest rumor surrounding Jon Gruden would be the opening at the University of Texas, and now even heading back to Oakland as he is “intrigued” by the job as reported by Jason La Canfora over at CBS Sports.
Mark Davis mulled hiring Jon Gruden year ago. Expect more of the same now. Gruden still intrigued by that job: http://t.co/lxBZfzNksa
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 22, 2013
Tony Dungy: It’s a safe assumption that he will not be coming to the helm in Detroit, or any team for that matter. Tony was recently asked directly by a fan on Twitter that if the Lions job were to open, would he come home and coach them? Straight and to the point Dungy replied, “No, I am done coaching!” A source close to the Detroit Lions said that they have indeed sent out feelers to Tony, but take that with a grain of salt.
— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) December 21, 2013