New Lions coach Jim Caldwell said the team is not 'in a real big hurry' in its pursuit of the right hire, but is making progress in hiring an offensive coordinator. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Mobile, Ala. — The search for the Lions offensive coordinator will continue for at least another day, and general manager Martin Mayhew and new head coach Jim Caldwell wouldn’t name any of the candidates after the first Senior Bowl practice Monday.
Caldwell said the team is not “in a real big hurry” in its pursuit of the right hire, but is making progress.
“All I’ll say about that is we’re in the process of trying to hire an offensive coordinator,” Mayhew said. “I think there are several spots that we haven’t filled, and it’s just sort of a process.”
In addition to offensive coordinator, the Lions are still searching for coaches for quarterbacks, wide receivers and the secondary, though 2013 secondary coach Marcus Robertson said he would interview to keep his job either Monday or Tuesday and is still under contract.
Mayhew also declined comment on the team’s free agents and most roster-related questions because he wants Caldwell’s full staff to have a say in that decision-making process.
Caldwell discussed the qualities he’s looking for in an offensive coordinator, and innovation is at the top of the list.
“Innovation obviously does not lend itself to one type of system,” he said. “Obviously, it’s being able to implement and execute a variety of different schemes, and that’s the thing I think you have to be able to deal with in this league is you’ve just got to give them a number of different looks, particularly within your division.”
Mayhew noted the team took its time hiring offensive coordinator Scott Linehan in 2009. The Lions and then-head coach Jim Schwartz hired Linehan two days after hiring then-defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. The team officially hired Teryl Austin as defensive coordinator last Friday.
“One of the things is we’re trying to just make certain that we have a guy that has a real good sense of system just in terms of offensive football — installation and application of it,” Caldwell said. “He’s a good communicator, that’s extremely important, and that he’s really good just in terms of teaching fundamentals. I think that’s the basic rudiments of quality play in offensive football. Those things are important.”
Tempo will also be important, and Caldwell said that can be used as a weapon on offense. The offense will also include no-huddle, though not necessarily all the time, because the more it’s employed, the easier it will be to function at the end of games.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford also likely will have more audible duties, but only time will tell if he has the freedom of Peyton Manning, Caldwell’s quarterback when he was in Indianapolis.
“Audible is a big part of the game now because of the fact that you get so many defenses that change,” he said. “And certainly the thing about that particular aspect is as coaches you can call a play, but you don’t have any idea what the defense is going to be.
“The guy standing behind the center does because of the fact that he can wait you out until he can see exactly what he wants, or he can manipulate you into showing what you’re going to play and therefore get into a better play with a better angle, get you out of a bad play.”
For a wide receivers coach, Caldwell said he wants someone who is “knowledgeable, energetic, enthusiastic and has expertise in what he’s doing.” Of course, part of that coach’s job will be to help All-Pro Calvin Johnson continue to improve.
“The good thing about it is (Johnson) always wants to get better,” Caldwell said. “He’s a worker, and I think when a guy has that kind of attitude, they’ll find a way.
“He’s a great, great player, but the great ones are the ones that are actually looking for that edge and he’s one of those individuals.”