For the most part, the Detroit Lions head coaching search took a bit of a backseat last week. With news of interviews already being conducted for the general manager job, it’s starting to become clear that will be the team’s first priority. Of course, there are more GM candidates available to be interview right now than head coaching candidates, so this may simply be a symptom of that.
Regardless, many of the coaches experts believe are candidates for the Detroit Lions’ job remain hard at work at both the NFL and college levels. As we have done for the last couple weeks, we are tracking how they have been performing on a week-by-week basis, and ranking them accordingly. Yes, the shifting of rankings is over-reactionary based on one performance, but who cares? Football is fun. Relax, and enjoy.
Here are our top 10 Lions head coaching candidates: Week 3 edition.
1. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll
Trending: STILL HOT
Daboll and the Buffalo Bills made a statement on Sunday night, establishing themselves as one of the best AFC teams with a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Though it was a modest performance from the offense, we are talking about the best scoring defense in the Steelers, so 26 points against Pittsburgh—even if seven came from a pick-six—is notable.
The focus of the game was on former Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, who is in the midst of a career year. Diggs caught 10 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. This week, Daboll talked about how offseason FaceTimes with Diggs were drastically important to build a harmonious relationship with the star receiver.
“It’s not just about football. I think it’s more important to get to know, when you acquire a new player, about the person, and really not a lot about football, at first” Daboll said.
2. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh
Trending: Up, again
Saleh remains the favorite for the Lions job, and he had a nice rebound performance after last week’s embarrassing defensive performance against the Bills.
Though the 49ers lost, they held the Washington Football Team to just 193 total yards of offense, including just 95 passing yards. If the 49ers had any semblance of an offense right now (three turnovers, 15 points), San Francisco would be in the midst of a playoff run. Instead, it looks like the Lions will get a chance to interview Saleh as soon as the regular season is over.
3. Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell
No game for Iowa State last week, but they’ve got a huge showdown with Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners for the Big 12 title on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET. We’re talking two of the highest-powered offenses in football and two of the hottest head coach candidates in the college ranks battling each other.
4. Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith
How much credit do you give the offensive coordinator when a running back like Derrick Henry is just destroying the league? It’s hard to say. But just about everything was working against the Jaguars this week, as the Titans rode to an easy 31-10 win over Jacksonville.
Derrick Henry has rushed for 200 yards and 2 TD four times in his career, more than any other player in NFL history pic.twitter.com/8qN67XJdpw— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 14, 2020
Not only did the Titans tally 249 rushing yards with an average of 6.2 yards per carry, but Ryan Tannehill continued his solid season with 8.8 yards per attempt and a 131.2 passer rating. Second-year receiver A.J. Brown is thriving under this offense, too, as he’s well on his way to back-to-back 1,000-yard season. He’s also just a touchdown away from his first double-digit touchdown season.
Again, everything seems to be clicking in Tennessee.
4. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy
After a slow start against the Dolphins, the Chiefs were the Chiefs again, scoring four straight touchdowns against the Miami, turning a 10-0 game into a 28-10 game in seemingly an instant.
That being said, it does feel like the wind is out of the sails with Bieniemy. As more people look into his past and wonder how big of a part he truly has in Andy Reid’s offense, the shine begins to wear off. The Chiefs may continue to kick ass, but that’s never going to remove questions about his part in it.
6. Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman
The Ravens were part of an instant classic against the Cleveland Brown on Monday night, as they hung 47 on the Cleveland Browns. While Lamar Jackson likely deserves a large majority of the credit for the win, Roman proved again that as long as he has a good, young quarterback, he can make the magic happen. The Ravens are back in the playoff hunt after two straight wins with an average of 40.5 points in those two contests.
6. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley
Their game against West Virginia was cancelled, setting up the aforementioned showdown with Campbell’s Cyclones this Saturday.
7. Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus
It felt like Derek Carr may be working his way into potential MVP talk if the Raiders started to make a late, December run to the playoffs. However, Matt Eberflus had different plans. Though the Raiders ended up putting up 27 points on Sunday, the Colts forced Carr into two interceptions (he only had five on the season prior to Sunday), and they absolutely spoiled Josh Jacobs’ return. The Raiders star running back managed only 49 yards on 13 carries (3.8 YPC).
The Colts defense isn’t quite as dominant as earlier in the year, but it’s still been a big part as to why this team is 9-4. And to do it under an offensive-minded head coach in Frank Reich, it means much of that credit goes directly to Eberflus.
9. Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni
Trending: NEW TO POWER RANKINGS
The Colts offense was so dominant on Sunday that it got the Raiders—who are in the middle of a playoff race—to fire their defensive coordinator. While Frank Reich has rightfully gotten a lot of credit for the Colts’ resurgence in a post-Andrew Luck world, Sirianni is a young name to keep an eye on. He’s been on the fringe of head coach talk for a couple years now, and has done a wonderful job with Philip Rivers, whom he has a close relationship with, in the twilight of his career.
10: Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell
While I believe Bevell remains a long-shot to win the job, Sunday’s performance was more good than bad. The Lions were clearly outmatched in terms of talent, but they hung with the Packers for all four quarters. What continues to impress me about Bevell is the game script he provide on offense to start the game. Detroit’s offense has been phenomenal in first quarters (6.3 points per quarter average, third highest), and it was again on Sunday when Bevell dialed up some creative plays early in the game.
Out of the top 10: Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady
The Panthers had just 88 total yards of offense in the first half against a pretty average Broncos defense. They eventually turned it back on and made the game competitive, but it was far too little, too late for the Panthers. Seventeen fourth-quarter points wasn’t enough to beat a bad Broncos team. Maybe Brady is still a little too green.