-Alex Fry (‘19)
After four interesting and rather mediocre seasons, Jim Caldwell is finished as the head Coach of the Lions. He certainly was not a bad coach. In fact, he was the first Lions coach to have multiple seasons with a winning record since Joe Schmidt, who retired 1972. The only problem with Jim Caldwell was his inability to raise the Lions to an elite level. During his tenure, the Lions failed to win either their division or a playoff game and were a horrendous 5-23 against teams with a winning record. Lions General Manager Bob Quinn felt that Caldwell was simply not going to win them a Super Bowl, so he had to relieve him of his contract. Now the Detroit Lions will be looking for their seventh head coach in the past fifteen years. Fortunately for them, they have many appealing options to choose from.
Patricia thus far has widely been considered as the Lions’ top candidate for their head coaching vacancy, and the organization has expressed a lot of interest in him. Patricia has been the defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots since 2012 and has been coaching with the team since 2004. He has a very credible resume, winning three Super Bowls during his time with the Patriots, and his defenses have finished in the top ten every year in points allowed per game. Although Patricia has no experience as a head coach, he could be the established winner that the Lions need to take them to the next level.
Vrabel is another candidate that is in high contention to be the Lions’ head coach. Unlike many coaches on this list, Vrabel has little coaching experience in the NFL, only coaching since 2014 as the Houston Texans’ linebacker coach and their defensive coordinator in 2017. There is not much to judge him on last season, since the Texans’ top defensive star, JJ Watt, was out for the entire season with injuries. Nonetheless, Vrabel has been getting a lot of praise as a coaching candidate because of his decade-long career as a player in the NFL and his ability to connect with the players on a more personal level than a regular coach could do.
Another coach that has been getting a lot of attention in the head coaching market has been Pat Shurmur, the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. Shurmur, a Michigan Native, has only been with Vikings for two years but his results have been quite impressive. This season for example, Shurmur was able to overcome multiple injuries to his quarterbacks and key players such as Dalvin Cook and have them rank near the top ten in offense. Shurmur also has experience as a head coach as well, although it is not too impressive. In two years with the Cleveland Browns Shurmur went 9-23 and was fired soon after.
Jim Bob Cooter
Sticking with a more familiar option is Detroit’s own offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter, who was given an interview at the end of the season. Cooter does not have any experience as a head coach but has been getting relative attention around the league. Although the Lions’ offense has been pretty unbalanced, with a heavy passing game and a consistently atrocious run game, Cooter has gotten a lot of praise from the organization and it is clear that they like him. Hiring him as head coach could cause quite the overhaul on the Lions’ coaching tree, though, as the team would then have a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator, and a new defensive coordinator with Teryl Austin leaving for Cincinnati.