It's pretty amazing how quickly things can change. After the Detroit Lions fired Jim Schwartz two weeks ago, Ken Whisenhunt emerged as their top coaching candidate. He was viewed as the best fit for the job, and by all accounts, Whisenhunt viewed the Lions as the best fit for him.
Fast forward to Monday night and it's clear that only half of that was true. The Lions clearly had Whisenhunt at the top of their list considering they had a plane ready to go to San Diego to pick him up, but they were not at the top of his list. Whisenhunt instead decided to accept the Tennessee Titans' head coaching job, leaving Lions fans stunned and forcing the team to go to their backup plan.
So why exactly did Whisenhunt pick the Titans over the Lions? Despite the fact that the Lions seemingly have more talent on paper, it seems there were some philosophical differences on the defensive side of the ball.
Hearing the Lions wouldn't budge on changing from a 4x3 to 3x4, Whiz will play a 3x4 with the Titans, location was another. @foxsports910— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) January 14, 2014
Switching to a 3-4 simply doesn't make sense for the Lions, so it's no surprise that they were so adamant about sticking with a 4-3 setup. As for the location angle, it's worth nothing that Whisenhunt spent a couple years in Nashville as a Vanderbilt assistant in the 90s, so that may have played a factor in his decision as well.
The strength of the NFC North also apparently played a factor in Whisenhunt's decision to take the Titans' job.
Re Whiz hearing the division had a lot to do with it also, after Colts/Luck its wide open don't think thats the case in NFC North. #AFCSouth— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) January 14, 2014
The NFC North was far from tough this year, but I suppose you can't count on Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler suffering injuries every season. Also, the Minnesota Vikings were recently a playoff team and could get a boost from their new head coach, and the NFC in general is a pretty tough conference. Then again, with Andrew Luck in place for the Indianapolis Colts, the Jacksonville Jaguars heading in a positive direction and Bill O'Brien leading the Houston Texans, the AFC South could very well be a difficult division in the future.
Whatever the case may be, it's clear that Whisenhunt wasn't comfortable with the idea of being head coach of the Lions. That's too bad considering the Lions had him pegged as their top choice, but now it's time to simply move on and find somebody else to lead this team.
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