With recent news that NFL teams can start interviewing head coaching candidates immediately, the Detroit Lions search may start heating up, even though it appears they may be more focused on the general manager position right now.
It was an interesting week, as a few college coaches exposed themselves as maybe not quite ready, while some professional coaches continued to build their resume.
Here are our top 10 Lions head coaching candidates: Week 4 edition.
1. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll
Trending: STILL HOT
The Buffalo Bills won their first AFC East title since 1995, and Daboll deserves a huge amount of credit for that. The Bills scored more points than anyone in Week 15 (48), and they now are in fifth in points scored for the year and sixth in offensive DVOA.
Just think about it. Daboll, under a defensive-minded head coach, helped turn one of the losingest franchises over the past two decades by developing a young quarterback and creating a modern, lethal offense to build around. How can that not sound appealing to the Lions right now?
2. Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith
Okay, let’s be clear here. Everything that happens against the Lions defense should be taken with a grain of salt, but look at this:
How good is Ryan Tannehill?— Allan Bell (@AllanBell247) December 23, 2020
Since taking over as the #Titans starter, he:
-Has more pass TDs (53) than Patrick Mahomes (48)
-More TDs responsible for (61) than Lamar Jackson (58)
-Higher Yds/Att (8.7) than Deshaun Watson (8.3)
-Higher P-Rating (114.0) than Aaron Rodgers (109.1)
We’re talking about Ryan Tannehill here.
Again, we have an offensive-minded coach carrying the entire team under a defensive-minded head coach.
3. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley
Riley still seems highly unlikely to go anywhere—a couple weeks ago Lions running back Adrian Peterson, a OU alum, said he doesn’t think he’s leaving Oklahoma—but his resume is only getting stronger.
Riley clinched his fourth-straight Big 12 title on Saturday with a convincing 27-21 win over the surging Iowa State Cyclones. Oklahoma jumped out to a 24-7 lead at halftime, and while Iow State drew closer, and even had a chance to win at the end, the Sooners looked like the superior team for most of the day.
4. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh
He likely still has the best odds to become the Lions next head coach, but Robert Saleh hasn’t exactly been making a great case for himself over the past few weeks.
That said, Saleh’s defense looks worse on the scoreboard against the Cowboys than they truly were. Dallas hung 41 on the 49ers, but the 49ers only allowed 291 yards of total offense (Dallas allowed 458). Saleh was victimized by his own offense, who turned the ball over four times, and his special teams, who allowed a onside kick return touchdown.
Still, Andy Dalton put up a passer rating of 96.7 and someone named Tony Pollard run for 5.8 yards per carry against the 49ers. That’s not great.
5. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy
It wasn’t exactly Patrick Mahomes’ best day, averaging just 5.4 yards per pass attempt on 47 passes, but they were able to get the job done on the ground. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell combined for 29 carries and 141 yards (4.9 YPC).
There’s really not too much else to say about Bieniemy. We know who he is. We know how good the Chiefs offense is. We just don’t really know how much Bieniemy is responsible for it.
6: Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell
Bevell moves up this week not because of anything he did on the field Sunday. In fact, I gave coaching a D in last week’s report card and I stand by it.
However, the fact that the Lions allowed Bevell to fire special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs after he undermined him by calling a fake punt without his permission leads me to believe that Bevell is well respected by the Lions front office. At this point, it almost seems inevitable that Bevell gets an interview for the head coaching job in Detroit. How serious the Lions will take it remains to be seen, but he did just receive a big vote of confidence, in my opinion.
7. Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell
Campbell did not only lose to Lincoln Riley last week, but he also very much lost his cool on the sidelines:
Iowa State Coach loses his mind, a breakdown pic.twitter.com/MYmg4T3s1d— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) December 21, 2020
Of course, some will look at this as a positive. Finally, the Lions will have a head coach that will stand up for them when the bad calls inevitably come!
However, it’s hard not to view this is somewhat embarrassing, and I just don’t think these antics would really fly in the NFL these days. Perhaps Campbell is still a bit too young and inexperienced to be given a shot at the big times.
8. Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman
Technically, Roman dropped a few spots in the rankings this week, but that has more to do with the people around him than Baltimore’s performance this week. It’s hard to take anything from their 40-14 slaughtering of the Jaguars, but it was certainly a dominant performance on offense.
But the Jaguars are 30th in points allowed, so Roman just gets a shoulder shrug this week for doing exactly what he should have.
9. Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus
No one has been able to stop Deshaun Watson over the past month or two, but the Colts did just about as good of a job as anybody. Sure, he put up 373 yards and two touchdowns, but the Colts were able to sack Watson five times due to a good defensive gameplan, and Houston finished with just 20 points on the day.
Okay, Eberflus was also completely bailed out by this play...
10. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald
Trending: NEW TO COACH POWER RANKINGS
Not many gave Northwestern a chance against a clearly-superior Ohio State squad, but Fitzgerald held his own for most of that game, even holding a 10-6 lead at halftime. It’s never a good look giving up the last 16 points of the game, but Fitzgerald has done an impressive job with that university over the past 14 years. Simply holding a head coaching job that long is impressive.
Rumors are Fitzgerald could draw interest from the NFL this year, but it’s worth pointing out that back in 2018 when he was being connected to the Packers job, he said this:
Gary Barnett turned down Notre Dame, Georgia & UCLA. It looks like Pat Fitzgerald just turned down the Green Bay Packers pic.twitter.com/WXpiXH1egf— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 1, 2019
Off the top-10. Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni
Okay, last week I told you not to sleep on Sirianni, and then I have him out of the top 10 the next week. Again, this wasn’t really a result of something he did. Philip Rivers and rookie running back Jonathan Taylor did enough to win against the Texans. In fact, Taylor is making a solid case to be in the offensive rookie of the year conversation, as he currently sits just 158 yards away from 1,000 rushing yards, and is averaging a more-than-healthy 4.6 yards per carry.