It's been a pretty quiet day on the coaching search front for the Detroit Lions. The Lions were in San Diego on Thursday to interview Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, but virtually no information has leaked out about that meeting. There have been no reports on how it went, and it's not clear if Whisenhunt is still considered the favorite to land the job.
Here's what we do know: Whisenhunt became the fourth candidate to interview with the Lions (and the third this week). As of right now, no additional interviews are on the Lions' schedule. This means that the Lions haven't scheduled a second round of interviews with anyone, and this also means that the Lions have only four candidates in the mix for their head coaching job right now.
For Whisenhunt, he's got two more interviews to go this week. He's set to speak with the Tennessee Titans on Friday and the Cleveland Browns on Saturday. On Sunday, the Chargers will take on the Denver Broncos in the playoffs, and that game remains Whisenhunt's top priority. From ESPN:
"I understand the process and I appreciate the interest," Whisenhunt told reporters. "But I just want to make sure everyone understands my focus is on the game on Sunday."
Asked how he can focus on game preparation for San Diego’s AFC divisional round playoff matchup with the Denver Broncos with three looming interviews for head coaching vacancies over the next three days, Whisenhunt had this to say: "It’s not hard. This is a playoff game. I think that’s where the focus has been. Anything outside of that is really secondary."
So where do things go from here? If Whisenhunt's Chargers win, the Lions won't be able to extend an offer to him for at least another week. That's assuming he's their top candidate, though. If Whisenhunt isn't the Lions' top choice, chances are their coaching search will come to a close early next week. If the Lions want to hire Jim Caldwell, Gary Kubiak or Mike Munchak, the result of the Chargers game is really irrelevant.
If Whisenhunt is indeed the Lions' top choice, then they will be rooting for the Broncos on Sunday (in a high-scoring game that highlights Whisenhunt's play calling, I suppose). That may sound a bit strange, but a Broncos win would knock the Chargers out of the playoffs and make Whisenhunt available to be hired. At the very least, the Lions could begin a second round of interviews next week, and it's possible they could quickly move to finalize a deal to make Whisenhunt their next head coach.
In short, if all of the reports about Whisenhunt being the Lions' top candidate are true, Sunday's game will have a big impact on the timeline of their coaching search. A Chargers loss could result in the Lions naming Whisenhunt their next head coach as early as Monday, but a Chargers win could force the Lions to remain patient and wait at least another week to move forward. Either way, it looks like the Lions' next move in their coaching search will likely be determined by what the Chargers do in Denver.