Allen Park — The Detroit Lions are wasting little time in the search for coach Jim Caldwell’s replacement. According to various national reports, the team has requested interviews with five coaches and will also meet with current defensive coordinator Teryl Austin about the vacancy.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn declined to address the individual candidates, but said the team would formally announce each to the public after they interview.
At the top of the list is New England’s Matt Patricia, who worked on the same staff as Lions general manager Bob Quinn for more than a decade.
Patricia’s defenses have been among the league’s best the past four seasons, holding opponents to under 20 points per game each year.
The Lions are also requesting an interview another New England connection, Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. Before going into coaching, he played eight seasons with the Patriots (2001-08).
Vrabel coached Houston’s linebackers for three years before getting promoted to run the team’s defense this past season. The unit struggled in 2017, finishing last in scoring defense after losing starting defensive ends J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus to injury and linebacker Brian Cushing to a 10-game suspension.
The Lions also reached out to the Carolina Panthers about interviewing Steve Wilks, according to NFL.com.
Wilks, in his first season as a coordinator, led the NFL’s No. 7 defense in 2017. A college defensive back, he built a strong reputation coaching the position in San Diego and Carolina before replacing Sean McDermott (hired to be Buffalo’s head coach) this past season.
Another defensive coach on the Lions’ list is Green Bay Packers assistant head coach Winston Moss. The former linebacker has coached that position in Green Bay for more than a decade.
The only offensive coach connected to the Lions on Monday was Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. The former Michigan State Spartan, Shurmur has maximized the talent of the Vikings offense, turning backup quarterback Case Keenum into one of the league’s most efficient starters.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford talks about the impact Jim Caldwell had on the franchise during his four seasons. Max Ortiz, Detroit News