As Lions' offensive coordinator search continues, NFL coaching carousel rolls on
Allen Park – The NFL’s coaching carousel is starting to slow, while the Detroit Lions continue to search for the right option at offensive coordinator to replace Jim Bob Cooter.
Eight teams were in the market for head coaches this offseason and six have already found their man, while the other two are reportedly waiting on their top choice to finish up a playoff run before making a formal announcement.
Among the head coaching hires, a few had been informally considered potential coordinator options for the Lions.
Michigan native Adam Gase changed addresses within the AFC East, relocating from Miami to New York, where he’ll led the Jets. The Browns promoted interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens to his first head coaching job. And the Cincinnati Bengals reportedly have their hearts set on Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor.
Offense has ruled the day with the majority of these new hires. Green Bay tabbed former Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan assistant Matt LaFleur. Tampa Bay lured Bruce Arians out of retirement. And Arians' former employer, the Arizona Cardinals, are taking a stab at unearthing the next McVay by hiring 39-year-old Kliff Kingsbury.
Only the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins bucked the trend and hired defensive coaches. The Broncos went with Vic Fangio, while the Dolphins are poised to hire Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores once he's fulfilled his postseason obligations.
As for the offensive coordinator openings, there were a baker’s dozen, and about half of those jobs have been filled.
Among the new head coaching hires, Arians and Kitchens have announced their choices. Arians is bringing former quarterback Byron Leftwich to Tampa Bay to call plays, while Kitchens has named Todd Monken as OC, a role he held in Tampa in 2018.
Three hires that haven't been finalized, but are reportedly expected are Dowell Loggains joining Gase in New York, Nathaniel Hackett landing in Green Bay, and former Lions coach Jim Caldwell going to Miami to be part of Flores’ staff.
The Bengals, Broncos and Cardinals are still sifting through candidates.
Five other teams made coordinator changes during or after the season, including the Lions.
The Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons made quick decisions, with the Ravens promoting offensive line coach Greg Roman to replace Marty Mornhinweg and the Falcons bringing back Dirk Koetter after a four-year stint in Tampa Bay.
Additionally, after he explored other options, Kevin Stefanski opted to return to the Minnesota Vikings.
The final team from that group of five, the Jacksonville Jaguars, had been linked to Gary Kubiak, but he took a job as an adviser in Minnesota. The Jaguars are looking for a replacement for Hackett, who they fired in the middle of last season.
Only three names have been reportedly tied to the Lions – Monken, Hackett and former Falcons coordinator Steve Sarkisian -- but all three took jobs elsewhere.
Monken and Hackett joined the staffs in Cleveland and Green Bay, while Sarkisian, despite having an offer from Kingsbury, opted to return to the college ranks and join Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn made it clear the Lions wouldn't rush into a decision when he spoke to the media two weeks ago. He said the team might have to wait to talk to candidates from teams still in the postseason.
That group could include Rams run and pass game coordinators Shane Waldron and Aaron Kromer, New England position coaches Chad O'Shea and Nick Caley, and Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka. The Lions would need permission to talk to any coach employed by another team.