Jim Schwartz is gone. He has not survived NFL Black Monday. His team finished a very disappointing 7-9 after begin in the driver’s seat less than two months ago with a 6-3 record. We can debate that move at a later date, but not the discussion now becomes who General Manager Martin Mayhew should hire as the next coach of the Lions.
First we have to decide what is wrong with this team. Accountability is certainly an issue, heart and desire seem to be an issues, and the offense is most definitely an issue. I would argue that the defense played fairly well at times and that the scheme is the main problem there. With that being said I think this team would be greatly improved by a more dynamic defensive coordinator and scheme but I think it is time that the Lions hired a keen offensive mind as the head coach of this team.
I know that in 2003 they hired Steve Mariucci to come in and run his west coast offense but the team is never had the talent to run that scheme. That is not the cast now. The strength of this team is QB Matthew Stafford, WR Calvin Johnson, and RB Reggie Bush (along with a stout defensive line). They have a solid offensive line that could benefit from a tweak here and there and the number one prerequisite of the next coach will be his ability to fix Stafford’s issues and then help him perform well enough for this team to reach the next level.
With that criteria in mind two names immediately come to mind. Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden, and Penn State Head Coach Bill O’Brien. Those are two names with a ton of pedigree. Gruden was on his brother’s staff in TampaBay that won a Super Bowl. He was a very successful QB in the Arena Leagues. He has head coaching experience there and in the UFL. He was the offensive mind behind the Florida Tuskers who played in the first two UFL championship games. Over the last two years he has helped guide Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense. That has been an up and down battle but for the most part that he runs a dynamic offense and the Bengals are a playoff team.
O’Brien was interviewed for the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns job last year after having a successful run as the Offensive assistant and OC for the New England Patriots and a taking over the mess at PennState. There he has a 15-9 record, and has won multiple coach of the year honors. It also seems very likely that Ken Whisenhunt, who is known as a QB guy and took the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl, will be one of the people interviewed for this job.