Black Monday lived up to its name, as Jim Schwartz, Greg Schiano, Mike Shanahan and Leslie Frazier were all fired by Monday afternoon. (Also, the Lions parted ways with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and wide receivers coach Tim Lappano.) These moves created openings in Detroit, Tampa Bay, Washington and Minnesota, and there were already openings in Cleveland and Houston with Rob Chudzinski and Gary Kubiak previously being fired.
For the Detroit Lions, there hasn't been a ton of concrete news on specific names that will emerge in their coaching search. They reportedly have interest in Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and simply by connecting the dots, San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith would make a lot of sense for the Lions.
Martin Mayhew played for Lovie Smith and with Ken Whisenhunt. Hrmmm.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) December 30, 2013
Smith is considered the favorite to replace Schiano in Tampa Bay (and he's expected to hire former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford as his offensive coordinator), so the Lions may not even get a great shot at hiring him. The same goes for Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien, who is expected to be Kubiak's replacement in Houston. On a positive note, the Houston Texans reportedly aren't planning to interview Whisenhunt, so he should be a realistic option for the Lions.
Speaking of realistic options, current ESPN announcer Jon Gruden is not one. He has repeatedly said that he isn't leaving ESPN this year, and he explicitly told the Pioneer Press on Monday, "I don't want to be considered for any of these jobs. I don't want to be considered for anything." Barring a sudden change, don't expect to see that particular Gruden as a head coach anywhere next season.
As the Lions' coaching search gets rolling, my gut feeling right now is that Whisenhunt is the favorite to replace Schwartz. This isn't based on any concrete information or anything like that, but Whisenhunt seems to make the most sense. He's got an offensive background, head coaching experience and a track record of success. That seems to match up pretty well with what the Lions could use in a head coach, but again, that's just a guess on my part.
Who do you think should be considered the favorite at this stage in the coaching search?