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Detroit Lions head coach candidate power rankings: Robert Saleh hype is back

The Saleh Hype Train is back on its tracks.

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Overall, it wasn’t a particularly good week for some of the hot names surrounding the Detroit Lions’ head coaching job. Eric Bieniemy’s Chiefs scored just 17 points. Arthur Smith’s offense in Tennessee was worked over by the Packers defense in the snow. And after a solid first half, the Colts defense imploded in the final two quarters, taking the shine off of Matt Eberflus and Indy’s playoff chances.

But those teams’ failures only set up a huge week for the person who many believe is at the top of the Lions’ wishlist for head coach: 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

Let’s jump into the top 10 Lions head coaching candidates: Week 5 edition.

Week 1 rankings
Week 2 rankings
Week 3 rankings
Week 4 rankings

1. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll

Trending: STILL HOT

Another week, another dominating performance by the Buffalo Bills’ offense. 38 points, 474 yards of offense, and a quarterback with a 138.7 passer rating. And all that despite benching everyone on offense in the fourth quarter.

This Bills offense is ranks in the top five of nearly every statistical category, so Daboll should absolutely be one of the most sought-after coaches in the next few weeks.

2. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh

Trending: HOT

After a couple of poor performances, the Robert Saleh hype is back. Here’s a reminder of the players either currently on IR or injured enough to miss Sunday’s game:

  • DE Ezekiel Ansah
  • DE Nick Bosa
  • DE Dee Ford
  • DE Dion Jordan
  • DT Solomon Thomas
  • DT Javon Kinlaw
  • S Jaquiski Tartt
  • CB Richard Sherman
  • S Jimmie Ward

And with all of those guys out, the 49ers held the Cardinals to just 12 points, 350 yards of offense (4.4 yards per play), while tallying three sacks and two turnovers.

Once again, Saleh got all the credit from the players.

“Best DC in the league,” Pro Bowl linebacker Fred Warner said per ESPN. “I love that guy. I know he’s going to be a great head coach one day soon.”

Plus, this sounds pretty awesome, if you ask me:

3. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley

Trending: Steady

No game last week, as OU prepares for the Cotton Bowl against Florida on Wednesday.

4. Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman

Trending: Rising up

After falling to 6-5 on the verge of being erased from playoff contention, the Ravens have now rattled off four straight wins and find themselves in a win-and-in scenario for Week 17. Granted, those wins have come against the Cowboys, Browns, Jaguars and Giants, but the team’s offense is finally clicking again.

During this four-game winning streak, the Ravens are averaging 37 points per game with Lamar Jackson averaging a passer rating of 117.7.

5: Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell

Trending: Up

Well, we just saw what the Lions look like without him on the sideline...

6. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy

Trending: Down

Patrick Mahomes completed a season low 54.6 percent of his passes, as the Chiefs managed just 14 points against a Falcons team currently ranked 19th in pass defense DVOA.

Mahomes took it on himself—like all good quarterbacks do—but it’s hard to be impressed by Bieniemy and company’s performance this week.

7. Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell

Trending: Steady

8. Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith

Trending: Down

Certainly the weather in Green Bay played a factor into the Titans’ poor offensive showing—as did their inability to stop Aaron Rodgers—but it really looked like the Titans didn’t have much of a game plan after “give Derrick Henry the ball.”

Ryan Tannehill had his worst performance of the year, completing just 11-of-24 passes for 121 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Mind you, this is not a great Packers defense.

If there are concerns that Arthur Smith’s offense relies solely on Derrick Henry, this is the kind of game that supports that argument.

9. Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus

Trending: Down

At halftime against the Steelers, everyone was raving about how impressive the Colts’ coaching and front office staff were. They had done a truly amazing job building that franchise with Frank Reich and company. With a 21-7 lead over the Steelers, the playoffs were just a formality.

However, that lead was quickly erased by a Steelers team that hadn’t scored more than 20 points in four consecutive games. They put up 21 points in the final two quarters alone, as Ben Roethlisberger enjoyed arguably his best statistical game of the season. He completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 342 yards, three touchdowns and a 109.4 passer rating.

Now the Colts are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, and their defense doesn’t look anywhere as unbeatable as it did earlier in the season.

10. Former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer

Trending: Up

I’ve already voiced my opinion on Meyer, but I can’t ignore the smoke currently coming from Meyer’s camp. NFL teams have reportedly inquired about Meyer, and the current FOX analyst will let teams know this week whether he’s interested in returning to coaching or would rather stay retired.

Off the top-10. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald

Trending: Steady

Nothing has changed with Pat Fitzgerald. He’ll likely still get some attention in the NFL ranks, but his hype has died down a bit since their competitive loss to OSU in the Big Ten Championship.

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