After Joe Lombardi was fired on Monday, the Detroit Lions handed the offensive reigns to quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter. With the season essentially over, Cooter won't be expected to immediately fix all of the Lions' offensive problems, but there is a certain hope hanging around him that he can at least make the offense look competent again. So let's take a deeper look into Cooter to see what he brings in his heightened role with the team.
Cooter's coaching career began at 25 years old (he's 31 now). After serving two years as a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee (he was a backup quarterback there as a student), he was hired as an offensive assistant for the Indianapolis Colts by none other than Jim Caldwell. Cooter served as an assistant in 2009 and 2010, during the Peyton Manning era. In his third season with the Colts, Cooter was promoted to assistant offensive coordinator. It's unclear how his role changed that year, but he did not call offensive plays for Indianapolis that season.
After Caldwell's regime was fired in 2012, Cooter landed in Kansas City, as the Chiefs' offensive quality control coach. After just one year with the Chiefs, Cooter reunited with Manning in Denver, where he served as an offensive assistant.
When Jim Caldwell was hired in Detroit, he made it a priority to get Cooter back in his regime to help with fixing Matthew Stafford. When Cooter took the job, Peyton Manning was not happy about losing one of his coaches:
When the #Lions hired Jim Bob Cooter away from the #Broncos, Peyton Manning was very upset. He was a valued part of his preparation.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 26, 2015
In 2014, Cooter served as quarterbacks coach for the Lions, and now, just seven weeks into the season, Cooter has his first offensive coordinator gig.
Cooter's rise from college backup quarterback to NFL offensive coordinator in just ten years does not come as a surprise to some. Caldwell praised Cooter's ability to quickly grasp offensive schemes. "It was just unbelievable how much information he can devour. There are some guys who just have an unusual knack and he has that," Caldwell said of his time in Indianapolis. Other's praise Cooter's high intelligence:
Jim Bob Cooter is seriously one of the smartest guys I’ve ever covered. Got a 35 on his ACT back in the day. Will be a head coach one day.— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) October 26, 2015
But Cooter's best quality may be his commitment to work. Cooter has been pivotal in offensive game-planning in both Indianapolis and Denver, and he has even been called a "film rat," due to his habit of spending hours in the film room gathering information.
And, yes, Cooter has been arrested. Twice.
If you want to read more on Cooter and his career, here are some good sources:
- Jim Caldwell speaks on how he came to meet Jim Bob Cooter and how their relationship blossomed. (DetroitLions.com)
- VIDEO: Cooter speaking on his role in Kansas City and the origin of his name. (KCChiefs.com)
- Five things you need to know about Jim Bob Cooter. (CBSSports.com)
- How Jim Bob Cooter improved Stafford's form and scheme understanding in one season. (Detroit Free Press)