With Matt Patricia officially fired, many Detroit Lions fans have turned their attention on NFL Sundays to their favorite head coaching candidates. While a win over the Bears was nice for the Lions, their playoff hopes remain a distant dream. So why not daydream about snagging another team’s coach for 2021?
That’s what we aim to do with our weekly Lions Head Coach Candidate Power Rankings. This list will heavily fluctuate every week just for the fun of it. Obviously one single performance should never sour (or sell) you on a candidate completely, but these rankings are simply supposed to be more of a stock market reading. A combination of my own personal feelings, how the coach performed in the previous week, recent news or developments regarding the coach, and how hyped Lions fans are about them.
In other words, these rankings are highly subjective and lowly serious. We’re just having fun here while also keeping tabs on some of the top-billed coaching candidates.
Here’s our Week 2 rankings:
1. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll
Trending: RED HOT
Monday night was the perfect platform for Detroit Lions fans to see two prospective head coaching candidates face off when the Bills faced the 49ers. To say that Buffalo offensive coordinator Brian Daboll got the better of 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh would be an understatement.
Josh Allen and the Bills racked up 449 yards of offense and 34 points against the 49ers. At one point, they scored on six straight possessions, and they didn’t punt until there was only 3:30 left in the entire game.
2. Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell
Iowa State easily disposed of West Virginia this week 42-6. Prior to Saturday’s game, West Virginia had allowed just 33 points in the previous three games combined, which included two ranked opponents (Texas, Kansas State).
Iowa State is an offensive juggernaut, and now the No. 9 team in the nation has clinched a spot in the Big 12 championship game for the first time in team history.
3. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh
Lions fans watched in horror as their top coaching candidate had absolutely no answer for Josh Allen and the Bills. It’s was oddly reminiscent of watching the Patriots muck up the 2018 Super Bowl as Detroit patiently awaited their defensive coordinator savior to join Bob Quinn in Detroit.
However, let’s not overreact to one game. Allen was phenomenal (91.0 PFF grade), and San Francisco tried about everything to stop him. Still, it’s hard to ignore 49ers fans saying stuff like this:
I know, I’m praying for him to leave. Keep the hype going! he can’t adjust for shit and is only getting recognized because the stars on D— Supreme_K (@god_kalo) December 8, 2020
4. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy
It wasn’t a particularly great day for the other Golden God of this coaching round. The Chiefs didn’t score a touchdown in the first half and had to rely on some late-game heroics to prevent a 4-7 Broncos team with an average defense from beating them.
Plus, as we get deeper and deeper into Bieniemy’s profile, he’s not exactly the pristine candidate some may think. It doesn’t help that former Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy is spectacularly failing in Chicago, but listen to Broncos insider Benjamin Allbright talk about how awful of a hire he believes Bieniemy would be (starts around the 1:45 mark):
5. Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith
Trending: Slightly down
If you look at Ryan Tannehill’s statline (389 yards, 3 TDs) and the final score of the game (35-41), it would seem like the Titans offense had little to do with Tennessee’s loss to the Browns. Unfortunately, that’s highly misleading from what happened.
The Titans only had seven points and 148 yards of offense in the entire first half. By then, they were already down 38-7. Sure, give the Titans credit for scoring four touchdowns on six second-half possessions, but it’s hard to know exactly how much of that was the Browns simply giving them yards to work with.
Also, our friends over at Music City Miracles were not impressed with Arthur Smith’s “fancy play syndrome” that overcomplicated situational downs and contributed to the Titans’ failure to convert in key situations.
6. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley
I still think there’s little-to-no chance Riley leaves his comfy job at Oklahoma, but a modest win over 2-6 Baylor did nothing to sway his attractiveness to an offensive-hungry NFL team. It was far from an explosive day from the Sooners offense, actually getting outgained by Baylor 288-269, but the game was always in Oklahoma’s control.
Still, Riley wasn’t pleased.
“I thought our guys weren’t coached worth a damn this week to be completely honest,” Riley said. “I don’t think us as offensive coaches did a very good job putting our guys in positions to succeed.”
This is coming from a coach that led 27-7 with over five minutes left in the game.
7. Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus
An unassuming day from the Colts defense, as Philip Rivers barely outdueled Deshaun Watson on the way to a 26-20 victory.
Eberflus’ defense nearly gave up the game-winning score by allowing Watson to go 73 yards in just 1:21, but a botched snap by the Texans at the 2-yard line ended Houston’s threat.
Overall, this felt more like the Texans shooting themselves in the foot (two turnovers, 1 missed FG) than the Colts defense holding up their end of the bargain. The Texans averaged 6.4 yards per play and finished the day just two yards short of 400.
But considering Watson has been playing with his hair on fire as of late, it’s not a horribly bad performance from the Colts, and they still got the win.
8. Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady
Trending: Steady (bye week)
No game for the Panthers this week, but it’ll be fun to see what Joe Brady does with the extra week of preparation for a Broncos team that just held the Chiefs offense in check.
9. Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman
Trending: Steady (hasn’t played yet)
If the Ravens don’t put up 30 on the Cowboys Tuesday night, you may not see Roman on this list next week.
10. Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell
Yes, after letting Matthew Stafford cook, Darrell Bevell gets to climb his way onto this week’s rankings. Sorry, Urban Meyer. Bad week for you and the Buckeyes, who couldn’t even beat Michigan in 2020. Pathetic.
Anyway, Bevell unleashed the Lions offense without two of their biggest weapons, and it worked against a great Bears defense. He also made Lions football fun again, and seems to fully have the players’ support. He’ll have his work cut out for him in the final four games, but if he can escape with a 3-1 record down the stretch, the Lions will have no choice but to seriously consider him.