Top 5 Candidates for Lions Coach Not Named Ken Whisenhunt
The Detroit Lions will be looking for their 26th head coach in franchise history, including their eighth since 2000.
Not since the days of Bobby Ross have the Lions reached multiple postseason appearances under the same head coach.
It's hard to believe that after a "Cinderella" 10-6 wild-card appearance in 2011, the Lions are back to where they commonly start, finding a new coach to fix the same old problems that has been a stigma to the franchise.
The talent level in the Motor City is clearly present. Any offensive coordinator would have a field day with weapons like Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson. They would also drool over a talented front four on defense that has three top 15 picks. Throw in the home-field advantage of Ford Field, and this could quite possibly be the 2014 version of "The Greatest Show on Turf."
While the current favorite is San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, he is not the only good candidate that would excel in this position where so few have before.
There are five good candidates that can take the Lions to the success of 2011 and could perhaps surpass that success.
All have been parts of great offenses, either currently or in the past, and have been successful on their respective levels of coaching.
All have also been a part of a great locker room culture that will instill discipline in an organization that severely "diverted" this ideology under the Jim Schwartz era.
Without further ado, here is the list.
5. Tony Dungy
Tony Dungy checks in at No. 5 on the sole basis that he has expressed publicly that this is the job he would most want to take if he wanted to come back this year.
While this scenario seems highly improbable due to Dungy's gig at NBC, plus a top 15 finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2014, this occurrence has happened before to some prominent and winning coaches.
Joe Gibbs came back in the mid-2000s to lead the Washington Redskins to the postseason after an extended drought.
Bill Parcells retired three times and came back to different vacancies in the 1990s and 2000s, having success at every stop.
Finally, the most famous example of all. Dick Vermeil led the Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl 15 in 1981, was retired for 14 seasons, then came back to lead the St. Louis Rams to a victory in Super Bowl 34.
This may seem like wishful thinking, but it is something not quite so farfetched.
4. Gary Kubiak
Before the 2013 debacle that saw the Houston Texans lose 14 straight games to end the season, Gary Kubiak did a lot to turn an expansion team in 2002 into a playoff contender during his six seasons as head coach.
Year after year, Kubiak built a playoff-caliber team, featuring an offense that had big-time playmakers in Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, with Matt Schaub under center. His defense was one of the more underrated in the league, with stars like J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing and Johnathan Joseph.
This would be a quick turnaround for coach Kubiak should he be considered. The talent is already there.
All the Lions would need is a leader who has had playoff success while having a history of building a solid all-around football team.
3. Darrell Bevell
A coach that has not been considered, most likely won't be considered, and probably should be considered is Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Before developing Russell Wilson into an elite quarterback in Seattle, Bevell was the offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings when Brett Favre was the quarterback
Having coached both Favre and Wilson, Bevell could get the best out of Matthew Stafford and develop him into an elite quarterback.
Another factor to consider is that Bevell has spent 10 seasons coaching inside the NFC North, so he knows this division inside and out.
2. Jim Caldwell
Jim Caldwell also knows how to train and develop quarterbacks. Caldwell was the quarterbacks coach for the Indianapolis Colts when Peyton Manning won his first and only Super Bowl.
Caldwell was the head coach of the Colts when they lost to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl 44, and in 2012, filled in mid-season as the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator after Cam Cameron was fired, helping the Ravens win Super Bowl 47 while making Joe Flacco's postseason one of the most proficient in recent memory.
Most will remember his 2011 season that finished 2-14 in Indianapolis, but this was without Peyton Manning, who was lost to a neck injury.
Caldwell is still a good head coach in this league, and would prove that if the Lions seriously considered choosing him.
1. Greg Roman
The best candidate not named Ken Whisenhunt to take over in Detroit would be San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
I say this because prior to his arrival in the Bay, he turned around a stagnant offense and made Alex Smith a bona fide starting quarterback where the previous years showed different results.
Roman gets the best out of all his players. Using different formations and seven or eight linemen to block in the running game, the 49ers get the most out of everyone on that side of the football.
When Smith went down with a concussion, Roman used the zone-read option with Colin Kaepernick that helped the 49ers reach Super Bowl 47.
In today's NFL where an elite offense is a need, not just a want, Roman can get the most out of an already talented corps of players already assembled.
Finally, Roman would bring the 49er culture and toughness to the Lions locker room that desperately needs it. The blue-collar approach and toughness would perfectly mesh with the attitude of the Motor City.
This is the perfect plan B if Whisenhunt is not chosen or decides not to take the Detroit Lions coaching position.