With the news breaking that Chargers OC and the Lions’ No. 1 coaching target Ken Whisenhunt agreeing to become the new head coach of the Tennessee Titans, there’s been a huge knee jerk reaction amongst Lions fans and a strong desire to take a leap off the Ambassador Bridge.
But let’s keep some perspective here people. Was Ken Whisenhunt the top target for the Lions this offseason?
Did Ken Whisenhunt fit what the Lions were seemingly looking for in their new head coach, an offensive guy who’s good with quarterbacks?
But lets be real here ladies and gentlemen, the Lions aren’t missing out on Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher or the reincarnate of Vince Lombardi. They’re missing out on a guy that showed some real promise as a head coach but failed to display any long term return before ultimately being fired by the Arizona Cardinals. Now again that’s not saying he won’t work out in Tennessee or wouldn’t of worked out for the Lions. And this certainly isn’t sour grapes, it’s just keeping that perspective and avoiding the dreaded knee jerk reaction.
So with another domino in the Lions’ head coaching search fallen, what’s next?
Well with Whisenhunt now in Tennessee, Ravens offensive coordinator and former Colts head coach Jim Caldwell as emerged as the top candidate for the Lions.
Lions have spent day in talks with Ravens HC Jim Caldwell and Detroit has been focusing on him, via @mortreport and me.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 13, 2014
Caldwell, who first interviewed with the Lions a couple weeks ago fits a lot of the parameters that the Lions are looking for. Like Whisenhunt he’s an offensive guy with a strong emphasis when it comes to quarterbacks.
But the similarities between Whisenhunt and Caldwell don’t end there.
Much like Whisenhunt’s downfall in Arizona after losing Kurt Warner, Caldwell suffered the same fate in Indianapolis after losing Peyton Manning to injury in 2011. Number’s wise though Caldwell has a better record as head coach going 26-22 during the regular season to Ken Whisenhunt’s 45-51 record in six seasons with the Cardinals. Caldwell has also been to the Super Bowl as a head coach and twice as an offensive coordinator.
But when it comes to being an offensive coordinator is where Caldwell seems to get the most grief.
In Caldwell’s first full season as the OC with the Ravens, Baltimore finished 29th in total yards and 25th in scoring. His 2-14 record with the Colts also has some carry over in the Caldwell detractors but there’s a couple of things that need to be cleared up.
Yes it seems like the Ravens and Caldwell for that matter are hesitant to have things remain the same (in terms of him being the OC) going forward in 2014 and for good reason too. It hasn’t worked out for either side with Caldwell as offensive coordinator despite the seemingly good relationship between himself and the Baltimore organization. However as ESPN’s Jamison Hensley points out, Caldwell wasn’t totally sold on being the Ravens OC from the start and only took the job because he was talked into it by Baltimore. Caldwell was originally hired by the Ravens to be an earpiece for Joe Flacco and according to Hensely is better suited running an entire team as opposed to just the offense.
Perhaps a change of scenery and a fresh start is in order for Caldwell?
Sure he may not be the most sought after guy but neither was Ken Whisenhunt last offseason when there were seven separate head coaching vacancies in the NFL and neither one tabbed him as their new head coach.
But aside from Caldwell there remains some other options for the Lions.
Mike Munchak – who was the former Titans head coach – reportedly had a very good interview the Lions last week and seems to remain high on the team’s list.
Lions lose out on Ken Whisenhunt, focus shifts to Jim Caldwell and Mike Munchak http://t.co/yo1zVicqty
— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) January 14, 2014
There are also reports that the Lions could be interested in Seattle DC Dan Quinn.
Nonetheless though it seems after the endorsements from Tony Dungy, Jim Tressel and Peyton Manning Caldwell now takes over as the Lions’ top candidate.