When news broke that Jim Bob Cooter would not be returning to the Detroit Lions in 2019, head coach Matt Patricia was immediately charged with what will be the most important move the team will need to make this offseason. Hiring a new offensive coordinator.
Within hours (maybe even sooner) of the news Cooter was not coming back, the speculation began as to who would be the best choice to replace him. There were reports Adam Gase was going to be fired by the Miami Dolphins (which he eventually was) and that he would be a top target for the Lions. Well, that may or may not have been the case, but Gase decided to take the head coaching job with the New York Jets.
Other possible candidates included Kliff Kingsbury (HC Arizona), Freddie Kitchens (HC Cleveland), Todd Monken (OC Cleveland), Nathanial Hackett (OC Green Bay), and Steve Sarkisian (OC Alabama).
As the announcements came that those coaches had taken other jobs, coupled with the Lions being silent about the matter, something predictable happened.
Many Lions’ fans began to panic.
Those fans started to post messages on social media saying the best candidates were just passing the Lions by and that Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn was going to have to settle for the last pick, which, of course, would end up being a failure.
Well, I have something to say about that…
CHILL OUT! THE BEST OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CANDIDATE IS STILL AVAILABLE!!!
Could one or more of the coaches listed above turn out to be amazing at their job? Sure. But is there a guarantee? Absolutely not.
In my opinion, the best fit for Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions’ offense is still available and his name is Chad O’Shea.
O’Shea is currently the wide receivers coach for the New England Patriots and he has been since the 2009 season.
Now, I know exactly what you are thinking. “Great, another guy with ties to the Patriots!”
First of all, that is not what this is about. Second, even if it was, trying to be the Patriots is not necessarily the worst thing in the world.
Earning a shot
O’Shea began his coaching career as a grad assistant at the University of Houston in 1996. By the following season, he had been promoted to wide receivers coach. Altogether, O’Shea spent seven seasons coaching at the college ranks (including three seasons as the ST coach at Southern Miss) before heading to the NFL.
In 2003, O’Shea worked as a volunteer assistant for the Kansas City Chiefs, a position he held until he was named as an assistant special teams coach the following season. After eventually spending three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings as an offensive assistant/wide receivers coach, he had an offer he could not refuse from one of the best coaches in NFL history, Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick.
“I remember it was at the Combine,” said former Minnesota receivers coach George Stewart. “And (O’Shea) comes over and he says, ‘Man, coach Belichick, he wants to interview me for a job.’ I said, ‘What?’ He thought it was a joke at first, but then it became a reality.”
O’Shea has since worked under Belichick for the past 10 seasons as wide receivers coach. He has seen how Josh McDaniels, Tom Brady, and the Patriots offense go about their business and it is finally his time to leave the nest.
Some have questioned whether O’Shea is such a great candidate, bringing up the fact he has not been promoted even once during his 10 seasons with the Patriots organization.
That concern is understandable but it is important to remember that Josh McDaniels has held the title as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for 11 of the past 14 seasons. Unless McDaniels leaves New England, or Belichick retires and Josh takes over as HC, the offensive coordinator job is his.
How O’Shea fits with the Lions
So, what makes O’Shea a good fit for the Lions? Why in the world would I want them to hire a guy who has not called plays before?
Well, let me start with this.
In 2018, the Lions ranked No. 24 in red zone offense, which is unacceptable when they have a talented quarterback like Matthew Stafford. Improving in that area is absolutely crucial if the Lions want to contend in 2019.
Prior to last year’s Super Bowl, McDaniels had the following to say about O’Shea and his value to the Patriots’ offense.
“Chad’s unbelievable,” McDaniels said. “He’s incredibly responsible for any and all of our success in the red zone. He does a lot of that work and prepares us well for that situation in the game.”
That is some pretty high praise coming from the guy who calls plays for one of the most successful offenses in NFL history.
Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan adores O’Shea as his coach.
“I love playing for Chad. He brings a lot of passion to the game and to this team.” Hogan said.
During his time in the NFL, O’Shea has coached receivers such as Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Dion Branch, Danny Amendola, and he was even able to get the most out of Josh Gordon before Josh Gordon when back to doing Josh Gordon things. Just imagine what he could do with a player like Kenny Golladay!
Throughout his coaching career, O’Shea has been extremely patient as he has earned the respect of his peers and his players and it is time for him to take the next step in his career.
That step will hopefully be to become the offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions.