The Detroit Lions started the day by interviewing their defensive coordinator Teryl Austin for the head coaching vacancy. That was expected from the team, as several media outlets reported that Austin was up for the job.
However, late on Tuesday night the Lions announced that offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter also interviewed with Bob Quinn for the job.
The #Lions have completed a head coaching interview with offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.— Detroit Lions (@Lions) January 3, 2018
Although there were rumors that, because the Lions were reportedly focusing on defensive-minded coaches, Cooter may stick around in his position as offensive coordinator, this is the first indication that he’s a candidate for a promotion to head coach.
Interestingly enough, Matthew Stafford said earlier in the week that he would love to have Cooter around again in 2018 as the offensive coordinator. “Jim Bob and I have a great relationship,” Stafford said. “Ever since he's had an opportunity to take the reins, this offense has moved in the right direction in my opinion.”
Cooter has received a lot of praise since moving from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator in the middle of the 2015 season. Immediately, Matthew Stafford saw a huge uptick in all of his statistics. In fact, Stafford just finished his best statistical season with a career high in both yards per attempt (8.1) and passer rating (99.3).
However, 2017 was a tough year for Cooter. Despite claiming that fixing the running game was a huge focus in the offseason, the Lions sported one of the worst rushing attacks in the league this season. As a result, the offense was completely one-dimensional all year. That really seemed to cost the teams in third-and-short situations, as Detroit had by far the worst conversion rate.
Cooter joins Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as the only two offensive-minded candidate reported to be up for the job. Although, considering how secretive the Lions were about interviewing Cooter in the first place, there may be other candidates we don’t know about yet.