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If Lions fire Jim Schwartz, Ken Whisenhunt may replace him

Ken Whisenhunt AP

It may be premature to talk about the next head coach of the Detroit Lions, considering that the current head coach, Jim Schwartz, has not been fired. But with Schwartz widely regarded to be on the firing line after Detroit’s meltdown over the last six weeks, one name is emerging as an early favorite to succeed Schwartz: Ken Whisenhunt.

Both the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press have stories today suggesting not only that Whisenhunt could be the next coach, but even that the Lions may have already reached out to Whisenhunt, the former Cardinals head coach and current Chargers offensive coordinator.

Whisenhunt would make sense on a lot of levels: He’s well regarded as a coach who can get the most out of his passing offense, which the Lions need, considering that Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson will take up a huge portion of their salary cap for years to come. He’s an experienced NFL head coach who took the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl, so perhaps he could take the Lions to their first Super Bowl, too. And he was a teammate of Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew for two seasons in Washington, so there may be a level of familiarity there.

The Texans are also believed to be interested in interviewing Whisenhunt for their head-coaching vacancy, and as more jobs open up, Whisenhunt may have multiple offers. He’s going to be one of the hottest candidates when the NFL coaching feeding frenzy begins in six days.

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73 Responses to “If Lions fire Jim Schwartz, Ken Whisenhunt may replace him”
  1. tfbuckfutter says: Dec 24, 2013 12:30 PM

    Yup.

    That sounds about par for the course with the Lions franchise.

  2. ajgreenhof says: Dec 24, 2013 12:31 PM

    Why would that make anyone feel good? He neglected the o-line for years in Arizona.

  3. f1restarter says: Dec 24, 2013 12:32 PM

    After they get that pesky Rooney Rule thing out of the way, of course….

  4. elliottcovert says: Dec 24, 2013 12:33 PM

    I think that would be a good choice. He could really help Stafford turn things around the way he helped Kurt Warner turn them around. I’m sure he would also improve the o-line situation a lot, the way he has in San Diego.

    His time with the Redbirds was definitely a success save for his failure to develop a franchise QB. Since the Lions already have one in place, it would make his job much easier.

  5. tjacks7 says: Dec 24, 2013 12:33 PM

    Awesome. That should be good enough to keep the Lions irrelevant for at least 3-4 more years.

  6. calicowboysfan86 says: Dec 24, 2013 12:34 PM

    I just hope we don’t see Schwartz on any other team’s sideline. I can’t stand that guy…

  7. aldante66 says: Dec 24, 2013 12:36 PM

    Who? Ken Wisenut? Does he know how to motivate 4 defensive linemen who were number one picks and are paid enormous sums of money and collectively play like a cluster f.
    Can he get Megatron to actually hold on to passes again. Stafford had more dropped passed in the last 5 weeks, I wonder if they were betting on their games or something?????

  8. mrwalterisgod says: Dec 24, 2013 12:38 PM

    Terrible replacement. Awful job in AZ, succeeded based on Denny Green’s talent acquisitions. Ignored offensive line repeatedly, brought in multiple terrible QB’s…. he’ll fit in well in Detroit.

  9. kd75 says: Dec 24, 2013 12:38 PM

    If the Lions are going behind Schwartz’s’ back before he actually gets fired, that is low class and not an organization I would want to work for.

  10. citizenstrange says: Dec 24, 2013 12:38 PM

    Whisenhunt should have replaced Cowher.

  11. craigkintexas says: Dec 24, 2013 12:39 PM

    Can’t imagine him taking the Lions gig with all the other opportunities that are going to open up.

  12. jimboslice1 says: Dec 24, 2013 12:40 PM

    It’s that damned Whisenhunt. He’s so hot right now.

  13. jbaxt says: Dec 24, 2013 12:40 PM

    That would be a good hire. Wizenhunt would have a good QB, a WR as good as Fitzgerald and an athletic RB. Plus he built a solid d in AZ too. But unless Barry Sanders comes back, I’ll still dislike the lions.

  14. detroitsports123456 says: Dec 24, 2013 12:41 PM

    They should hire Rex as the head coach and Rob as the defensive coordinator

  15. liontuss says: Dec 24, 2013 12:42 PM

    Just do it, Mayhew.

  16. tennesseeoilers says: Dec 24, 2013 12:44 PM

    If Lions fire Jim Schwartz, Titans fans will welcome him back with open arms!

  17. rajbais says: Dec 24, 2013 12:44 PM

    Hue Jackson is better. Trading for Carson Palmer was less of a mistake than the one thing that Whisenhunt did.

    Nope, not trading for Kevin Kolb. It was giving a damn about Ryan Lindley.

    Plus, when Hue Jackson can coach on both sides of the ball like how he has in the last two seasons in Cincy that’s good enough to get one a head coaching job because of his well-rounded knowledge of the game.

    Why else did Michael Lombardi say that if Juan Castillo could go from offensive line to the DC position he should be a head coach.

    Also, look at special team coaches. They need to know offense and defense for their coaching and that’s why many have wanted coaches like Rich Bisaccia and Joe DeCamillis to be head coaches. After all, John Harbaugh is a Super Bowl winning head coach.

  18. MichaelEdits says: Dec 24, 2013 12:55 PM

    Shanahan will be available…

  19. purpleguy says: Dec 24, 2013 12:57 PM

    Well, they’ll need permission from Nate Burleson first.

  20. fordmandalay says: Dec 24, 2013 12:58 PM

    I’d just like to remind everyone that the QBs that ‘the Whiz’ developed and chose for his starters in AZ include John Skelton, Max Hall and Ryan Lindley. He put together one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, and the Cardinals lost 11 straight games in his final season. Anyone who thinks about giving him another shot as HC deserves what they get.

  21. gbrim says: Dec 24, 2013 1:03 PM

    A lot of Whiz’s problems in AZ were caused by the pathetic front office (Rod Graves as GM). Whiz didn’t have personnel control for most of his tenure is AZ, and the O-line neglect doesn’t rest solely with him.

    He can coach offense, and players (O&D) like playing for him. Give him a good front office and the Lions could do a lot worse.

  22. Ferdinand says: Dec 24, 2013 1:07 PM

    But how good would he be in restoring any sort of discipline to the league’s most undisciplined team? Would he be the anti-Schwartz and at least try? Or would he be another Schwartz and not even bother?

  23. fumblenuts says: Dec 24, 2013 1:11 PM

    The SMART move would be to hire Darrell Bevell as Head Coach and Lovie Smith as DC. Then watch these 2 men get the most out of ALL that talent.

  24. mayorrobford says: Dec 24, 2013 1:12 PM

    I’m reading a lot of comments about Whinsenhunt not addressing the Offensive line in Arizona.

    Last I checked that’s the GM’s responsibility.

  25. mayorrobford says: Dec 24, 2013 1:13 PM

    So don’t blame Whisenhunt, blame Rod Graves for the O-line failure in Arizona

  26. whatjusthapped says: Dec 24, 2013 1:19 PM

    If the Lions wait a few days, Leslie Frazier will be available.

  27. John A. says: Dec 24, 2013 1:20 PM

    Ah…. another NFL head coaching retread. Let’s review, shall we?

    Whiz is literally a .500 head coach (45-51, actually). His teams didn’t get better over time, they regressed. He won 10 games once…. and his last team lost 11 of 12 to close out that season, including a completely inept 58-0 pasting by the Seahawks.

    Why would you hire him? What exactly are you hoping for that you haven’t already seen in his head coaching ability?

    Plus why would he want to go to the dumpster fire that is the Lions? Three head coaching gigs in the NFL you really don’t want: Dallas, Washington, and Detroit.

    And Oakland.

  28. brownoholic says: Dec 24, 2013 1:23 PM

    They should go after Jay Gruden.

  29. tigersfandan says: Dec 24, 2013 1:27 PM

    Detroit will probably be the most attractive opening in the NFL. I’m guessing we can do better than this.

  30. buyamericanonly says: Dec 24, 2013 1:32 PM

    Yeah, why make the call to Gruden, Cowher or Dungy when Whisenhunt is there. Lions are always good taking the bridesmaid, never the bride.

  31. lks311 says: Dec 24, 2013 1:38 PM

    Best job, personnel wise, that will be open this year. Only an idiot would pass it up, if the Lions come calling.

  32. azjam says: Dec 24, 2013 1:40 PM

    Whisenhunt is an excellent coach and would do a good job with the Lions. He has resurrected River’s career in San Diego and would do the same with Stafford. The problem he had, here, in Arizona was GM Rod The Slug” Graves.
    The new GM Keim is really the key for the Cards turnaround this year.

  33. rushbacker says: Dec 24, 2013 1:40 PM

    LOL. It makes me laugh the way Whisenhunt consistently gets killed on here for things that weren’t his fault. Hey, maybe if the FO had given him better options than Matt Leinart, he wouldn’t have been forced to play all those late round and UDFA stiffs. Also, Jon Cooper may have been the first legit quality OL they’ve drafted in a decade. Whiz took the friggin’ CARDINALS to the Super Bowl, and almost won it. Dude is a good coach– massive upgrade from that clueless little kid Schwartz. Nobody likes that guy besides his mom.

  34. Blogger Patrol says: Dec 24, 2013 1:50 PM

    KW’s the WRONG choice. He had an UNDER .500 record in Phoenix! No, wait … that makes him the RIGHT choice for the Lame Brain Lions!

  35. spin5150bc says: Dec 24, 2013 1:53 PM

    “fumblenuts says:
    Dec 24, 2013 1:11 PM
    The SMART move would be to hire Darrell Bevell as Head Coach and Lovie Smith as DC. Then watch these 2 men get the most out of ALL that talent.”

    The SMART move would be to get Leslie Frazier and Bill Musgrave from Minny. That would get Detroit back on the right track to their proper place in the division. Heck, I bet the Vikes throw in Spielman for free and pay for his airfare…

  36. ivanpavlov0000 says: Dec 24, 2013 1:54 PM

    Detroit – where the weak are killed and eaten, and they don’t even wait until after they fire the current coach to start leaking the short list of his potential replacements.

    This low-class move would definitely make me hesitant to work there. Between this and the fans booing the team as they head into OT … the Lions deserve what they get.

  37. doubleentandre says: Dec 24, 2013 1:55 PM

    Please, enough of mentioning Cowher and Dungy. Cowher is not going anywhere and I’m pretty sick of Dungy’s “holier than thou” attitude.

  38. texanfan62 says: Dec 24, 2013 1:59 PM

    I hope them Tennessee Hillbillys Hire Schwartz. They’ll be just as undisciplined, and stupid as the Lions are. Schwartz isn’t a HC only a decent Defensive Coach. But go ahead tennesseeoilers, hire a moron, you guys deserve it.

  39. horsepedlr says: Dec 24, 2013 1:59 PM

    wiz wouldn’t fire russ grimm, the worst o line coach in history. no imagnation, same old song and dance after every game ( read loss ) went to sb with denny greens team, not his. yes he had the worst gm in graves but he also had imput and didn’t use it.
    you will be sooooooorrrrryyyyy.

  40. polegojim says: Dec 24, 2013 2:01 PM

    Bring In ‘THE CHIN’…

    Cowher brings instant respect from both sides of the ball.

    Hiring Whisenhunt… would make me puke.

  41. banvard316 says: Dec 24, 2013 2:16 PM

    Whiz would be great in Detroit. As a Cards fan I would say that Whiz is a great coach just not a great judge of talent. Detriot has the pieces just not the leader. Look what Whiz has done with Rivers. Everyone thought he was done and now he’s a top qb again.

  42. realfootballfan says: Dec 24, 2013 2:18 PM

    Well, they already have a QB, so that takes that tough decision out of his hands. Better find a competent backup for him, too. He might call up Max Hall or Ryan Lindley as the answer. Also better stipulate that in no way can he hire Russ Grimm as his offensive line coach to make the offensive line even worse than what it already is.

  43. darkneptune73 says: Dec 24, 2013 2:56 PM

    You are supposed to hire a better coach, not a stagnant coach who is no better than the previous one.

  44. riverace19 says: Dec 24, 2013 2:57 PM

    Please keep Jim Schwartz. None of this is his fault. He will lead the Lions to a Super Bowl next year with his leadership and discipline! Merry Xmas, signed Packers fan

  45. fdugrad says: Dec 24, 2013 3:03 PM

    Great, now the QB’s girlfriend will have someone who can watch games in the stands and together with her, yell at the boo birds…well, the FEW that actually attend any games.

  46. weaselpuppy says: Dec 24, 2013 3:14 PM

    He has the pieces there….as long as Mayhew addresses #2 WR and CB in FA (and a better WLB) then it’s a great fit. I’d like Reich t9o come with him and tutor Stafford…and keep our O and D Line coaches. Everyone else goes on the staff,

    DC-Lovie? That would be the best….not sure if he will take a DC job, depends on how many HC openings there are I guess,

    Cowher has been passed by the league, no way. Gruden isn’t leaving his comfy desk job, and if he is, it’s not to Detroit’s bad weather…he’s a CA/FL kind of guy.

    Leslie Frazier? Are you flippin kidding me? He’s terrible…can stay right where he is.

  47. jeromepc01 says: Dec 24, 2013 3:16 PM

    Why? He flamed out in epic fashion in Arizona. His only successful years were when Seattle, San Francisco and St. Louis were lifeless. And he had a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback to boot. The second Warner retired and the rest of the division gained a pulse, we saw what his true coaching acumen was like. Why is he getting credit for what Mike McCoy is doing in San Diego? I would much rather have Jay Gruden. Marvin Lewis was on his way out in Cincinnati until Gruden revamped that offense. And unlike Whisenhunt riding McCoy’s coattails, we know Gruden is responsible for the entire offense, as Lewis focuses on the defensive side of the ball.

  48. dartwick says: Dec 24, 2013 3:18 PM

    I dont get all the Whisenhunt hate.
    He guessed wrong on Kolb – but he did take the Cardinals to the Super Bowl and he almost won.

    Pick a coach to win game – pick GM to make draft picks free agent signings.

  49. realfootballfan says: Dec 24, 2013 3:43 PM

    It’s funny how some try to exonerate Whisenhunt of the disaster of the personnel moves made when he was coach in Arizona. Anyone familiar with the Cardinals know that not only did he have final say over the roster after he signed his extension, but also that Graves was a cap man similar to Mickey Loomis in New Orleans. It’s one of the main reasons he got fired too because they wanted someone stronger in evaluating personnel in that role to go with the new coach, so the new coach didn’t have that on their plate like Whisenhunt and Dennis Green did.

    It’s always fascinating to see who people think has more input than they do like with Rex Ryan and who they think have no input but do like with Whisenhunt or Jeff Fisher as he failed after winning his power struggle with Floyd Reece.

    Also, as stated by another poster, Hue Jackson would be a 1000% better choice, but he’s not in the good old boys’ network that recycles coaches around the league. Jim Schwartz will probably get another chance before he even gets another interview, and that’s a shame.

  50. doctorrustbelt says: Dec 24, 2013 3:44 PM

    More proof that Matt Millen wasn’t at total fault.

    SEE: ford family

  51. starderup says: Dec 24, 2013 3:47 PM

    IF???? You mean when, don’t you?
    Keeping him would be something Matt Millen would do.

  52. 8oneanddones says: Dec 24, 2013 3:58 PM

    How can they not fire Schwartz at this point? The had the division handed to them on a gold platter.

  53. tamgomike says: Dec 24, 2013 4:00 PM

    I can’t believe I’m suggesting this…being from MI originally and all…but Is Jim Tressel available? If Chip Kelly and Jim Harbaugh were successful in college and then turned out to be winning coaches in the NFL, why not a fresh face instead of a retread?

  54. goldrush36 says: Dec 24, 2013 4:10 PM

    After his handling of the QB situation and offense in Zona are you sure that’s what you want? Look at the difference with Arians. Some people are just better off as coordinators.

  55. emmonsh says: Dec 24, 2013 4:23 PM

    wisehunt for head coach and rex ryan for defensive coordinator. that could be a super bowl winning combo

  56. chalie16 says: Dec 24, 2013 5:07 PM

    LOL…”If the Lions fire Jim Schwartz…”

  57. truths4all says: Dec 24, 2013 5:34 PM

    The dumbest perception out there in NFL la-la land has resurfaced. Who out there is so dumb to think Whisenhunt had anything to do with Kurt Warner’s success when he was with the Cards? Don’t you remember that Whisenhunt could not tell any real difference between Warner and Matt Leinart until Leinart’s inability to move the Card’s offense (as taught to him by Whisenhunt) finally made the decision for Whisenhunt? Next, if Whisenhunt is so good, why did he botch up Lienart after Warner left? Or why was Whisenhunt a failure to produce a decent QB after Warner left? Any success Rivers has now is due to Rivers and the Chargers head coach making sure Whisenhunt stays out of Rivers way.
    Who out there is so dumb to think Whisenhunt could luck out again with Stafford?
    Yeah, bring on Whisenhunt to the Lions. That way Whisenhunt will ruin their chances for any future success making it easier for the Packers and Bears to compete to own the conference. I sure am hoping for some more drama and gnashing of teeth in Detroit!

  58. ty091592 says: Dec 24, 2013 6:03 PM

    MIKE ZIMMER OR BUST..

  59. tavisteelersfan says: Dec 24, 2013 6:16 PM

    Nuts.
    They need to win now.
    Pay what it takes to get Coughlin out’ve New York. He is a winner with the discipline this bunch needs.
    Why is still learning on the job.

  60. tavisteelersfan says: Dec 24, 2013 6:17 PM

    Whiz is not a Steeler for a reason. He looks better from a distance.

  61. tavisteelersfan says: Dec 24, 2013 6:19 PM

    Gruden would be a second choice if he has enough fire to coach again.

  62. chalie16 says: Dec 24, 2013 7:08 PM

    @truths4all, I lived in Arizona when this was going on and it wasn’t Whisenhut, it was the Bidwells that pushed to start Lienart. Leinart was drafted when Dennis Green was there and Whisenhut never supported Leinart and they fought constantly.

    There are tons of articles out there on their dislike for one another.

  63. raiderlyfe510 says: Dec 24, 2013 8:17 PM

    Whisenhunt is good with an established QB. His problem is developing one.

  64. coachbeck says: Dec 24, 2013 11:15 PM

    If Schwartz is fired and Zimmer is hired somewhere then he will be the next DC of the bengals probably. He and Marvin are pretty close.

    I still think Hay Gruden will get a job this offseason.

  65. bclarkk says: Dec 25, 2013 7:00 AM

    I like John Gruden he made it clear he wants the job in Detroit

  66. oriongolf says: Dec 25, 2013 12:27 PM

    Gruden you idiots.

  67. cecinaz says: Dec 25, 2013 8:11 PM

    Even considering people such as Whizenhut, the coach at Penn State, etc., is completely ridiculous. Ford has the money … go out and spend whatever it costs to bring a Super Bowl to Detroit before I’m in the ground. John Gruden would fit the bill nicely.

  68. twelsh36446 says: Dec 26, 2013 11:03 AM

    Whizenhut has a losing football record why would the Lions ever consider him? Detroit needs a head coach that can take their talent now and win now.

  69. rodh32340 says: Dec 26, 2013 1:24 PM

    Lions looked like a strong contender early in the season, but something (conditioning?, lack of proper coaching?, team attitude?, lack of unity?, ) whoever knows should speak up! This team was improved in the past off-season…but they are getting older and the vets are becoming complacent disbelievers in the promise of winning through commitment. Does the problem fall on Schwartz? I thought they would be such a powerhouse team this year…the pieces were all there.

  70. deighton95 says: Dec 27, 2013 11:06 AM

    If the Giants fire Coughlin then he would be my first choice to take the very talented Lions to the upper tiers of the league. Maybe Brian Billick would come out of the booth?

    I’m not sure Wisenhunt is the guy to roll the dice with with…

  71. beliefpatrol says: Dec 27, 2013 12:55 PM

    get Marty Schottenheimer! He is a great coach and he really wants to win a Super bowl to end his career. He was a winner everywhere he coached!!

  72. twelsh36446 says: Dec 27, 2013 7:46 PM

    Ken Whisenhunt has about the same win loss record as Schwartz so how would that be an upgrade? The Lions need someone really good to turn them around. I would love to see someone like Mouse Davis as their offensive coordinator. Maybe a Pittsburgh’s old coach, or someone that could make the talent they have in place now better and used properly.

  73. rodh32340 says: Dec 29, 2013 12:37 PM

    All of the re-treads in pro coaching…aren’t there any new football minds out there who want to coach in the NFL?!

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