*Originally published following the Lions Week 1 debacle vs. the Chicago Bears.
Before we get into it, I want to be clear about something. I never thought I would be writing this piece after Week 1 of the 2020 regular season as I truly believed the Detroit Lions would get off to a hot start and that they would win the NFC North. In addition, I don’t think firing head coach Matt Patricia is a great idea at all.
Unfortunately, the Lions blew another huge Week 1 lead before eventually losing 27-23 to the Chicago Bears.
With the loss, there have been a plethora of fans who have come out calling for Matt Patricia’s head.
Now, though I don’t believe Patricia should be fired now, as it could hurt the team in 2020 more than help, I do believe that he has one foot out the door and if the Lions are 0-4 going into the bye week, he will be fired.
That being said, if Patricia is fired, chances are that current OC Darrell Bevell would be the interim head coach for the remainder of the season, and Lions ownership would then hire a new HC in the offseason.
Here are 3 hot head coaching candidates and 2 sleeper candidates the Lions could strongly consider to replace Matt Patricia if he is indeed fired.
Robert Saleh, defensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers
Saleh piloted the second-best defense in football in 2019. By taking the effective Cover 3 scheme he mastered in Seattle and tweaking it for a more modern approach to evolving offenses, Saleh’s talented defense finished second in yards surrendered, sixth in turnovers and, perhaps most significantly, first in net yards/attempt allowed in the passing game. His slogan, “All Gas, No Brakes,”became a rallying cry for the team during their Super Bowl push a year ago, showcasing his ability not only to design a good defense, but to create some sustainable team building as well. Saleh interviewed for the Browns’ head coaching vacancy in 2019, losing out to Kevin Stefanski and a job that already seemed zeroed in on its intended target.
Eric Bieniemy, offensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs
Undoubtedly the biggest snub of last year’s cycle, Bieniemy, the offensive coordinator of the best offense in football, has returned in that same role this year. Here is a coach who has had his hands on the development of Patrick Mahomes, who sits at the Andy Reid altar and, at times, calls plays. He interviewed with the Panthers and Giants, among others, at the end of the 2020 cycle. There is a belief that this will be a make-or-break year for Bieniemy’s candidacy. Will Andy Reid’s Super Bowl credentials add more heft to his impressive résumé?
Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, Baltimore Ravens
Roman was sought after last season, though not to the extent that we might have expected. The offense that Baltimore crafted around Jackson was brilliant and is an example of what Roman can do (as was his stint in San Francisco). An interesting tidbit for teams looking to hire a coach and draft a QB in 2021: Roman’s teams have never finished worse than fifth in interceptions thrown. In four out of seven seasons, his teams have been top five in points scored and in all but one season, they’ve been top 10 in giveaways. Owners who are afraid they’re hiring an “option style” coach may want to dig a little deeper.
Mike Kafka, quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs
Should Bieniemy go, and should the Andy Reid tree remain hot, teams might try to jump the line for Mike Kafka, undoubtedly Bieniemy’s successor and a rising name in coaching circles. Kafka, just 33, was on the highly revered Pat Fitzgerald staff at Northwestern after his NFL playing days before reconnecting with Reid in Kansas City. Kafka quickly jumped from quality control to quarterbacks to passing game coordinator.
Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
His first season as a coordinator was a good one: The Cowboys were sixth in points, first in yards, fifth in rushing yards, fifth in passing touchdowns and first in net yards per attempt. Dak Prescott solidified himself as a top-four quarterback in the NFL (arguably deserving of MVP votes last year). If he manages to find success with Mike McCarthy as well, it’s an added bonus. Thriving under two respected head coaches should inevitably boost his credentials.
Nation, which of these candidates would you prefer to replace Matt Patricia, if need be?