Not long before word emerged that Ken Whisenhunt had taken the job in Tennessee, we explained that Whisenhunt may not actually be the front runner in Detroit.
Regardless of whether he was, he now clearly isn’t.
It’s hard to know where Whisenhunt landed on the Lions’ wish list because the Lions kept quiet throughout the process. Whether they’ll continue to do so as they move on to Plan B — or as the case may be continue to execute Plan A — remains to be seen.
While the Lions remain tight lipped, their official website has dropped a fairly strong hint. Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com writes that Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell “looks to be the top choice,” pointing out that the Lions spoke to Tony Dungy as recently as Monday, and that Dungy endorsed Caldwell for the job. The Lions also spoke with quarterback Peyton Manning, who spent several years working with Caldwell in Indy, where Caldwell ultimately spent three seasons as head coach.
Based on the other known candidates — Mike Munchak and Gary Kubiak — it appears that the Lions want someone who has been an NFL head coach. As we understand it, however, that’s not necessarily the case.
The Lions would hire an assistant coach if the Lions believe the assistant coach can step into the locker room and seamlessly behave like a head coach. With some coordinators, there’s a leap of faith. The Lions don’t want to leave it to chance; they want and need someone who can get the most out of a roster with skill that outpaces its production.
In that regard, don’t be shocked if they wait for Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Because the Lions didn’t interview him during Seattle’s initial bye week, the Lions now have to wait until the Seahawks are done playing.
Regardless of whether Whisenhunt chose not to be that guy or the Lions never got to the point where he was the first choice, the Lions still need someone who can maximize the talent everyone believes the team has.