It’s Wild Card weekend in the National Football League, and Detroit Lions fans ought to be interested in watching one of these playoff games because it may give a glimpse into a possible future. While the Lions are not actually playing, there is a Kevin Bacon connection to the Tennessee Titans that is worth paying attention to if one believes San Francisco’s defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is likely to become the next head coach in Detroit (yes, I know that sounds convoluted). Here is The Athletic’s Chris Burke telling us why:
Relevant for Lions fans if Arthur Smith is the hire, but also if it’s Robert Saleh and he brings Mike LaFleur or Mike McDaniel with him as O.C. https://t.co/ybxrIf0vKe— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) January 8, 2021
If current Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith became the next Lions head coach, of course the Titans’ offense would be of immense interest. To understand why it matters if the Lions hire Saleh requires some dot connecting. Arthur Smith used to be the Titans’ tight ends coach and was promoted in 2019 to offensive coordinator when their previous offensive coordinator was hired by the Green Bay Packers. Naturally, Matt LaFleur’s offense for the Packers did a lot of things similar to what he used when he was with the Titans.
3) Meanwhile, another HC candidate, Niners DC Robert Saleh, would likely bring SF passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur as his OC. (Both LaFleur and McDaniel have been blocked in previous years by the Niners.)— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) January 5, 2021
Now let’s get back to Saleh. NFL Media’s Mike Silver wrote this week that he believes Saleh would probably take San Francisco passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur with him if he is hired to become the head coach anywhere—Matt Maiocco said the same thing on our podcast. While San Francisco may lose both Mike McDaniel (run game) and Mike LaFleur (passing game), Silver thinks McDaniel would go to work with Raheem Morris. Saleh, oh the other hand, could take brother-of-Packers-head-coach LaFleur, who no doubt has ideas and influences from the offense his older brother used to run in Tennessee and still runs in Green Bay.
Punch the accelerator on one of Kyle Shanahan’s two “offensive coordinators,” Mike LaFleur and Mike McDaniel and see if you can pay through the teeth to get one of them to run your offense in 2021. Shanahan held on to both tightly during the head coaching cycle last year, so perhaps some kind of “assistant head coach” title would be necessary to subvert all the administrative red tape. I really think Lock is savable and that Denver has all the pieces to win 10 games. While this would be a temporary fix, given that both LaFleur and McDaniel are on a head coaching track, installing and committing to the Shanahan offense is among the safest bets you can make right now as a head coach.
As noted by Silver, one way to prevent the Niners from blocking a hire is to offer a play-calling position as a full-time offensive coordinator. Another way to get one of them is if they willingly chose to leave with someone they want to work with like Robert Saleh. So, if you are a Lions fan that believes Robert Saleh is the front-runner to come home and become head coach, then you might want to pay attention to the Tennessee Titans on offense against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend.
Now we move on to the rest of today’s Notes:
- Brandon Thorn’s Trench Warfare newsletter scored Romeo Okwara fifth in the league with his True Sack Rate metric (hat tip to Chris Burke for spotting this).
- ESPN’s Michael Rothstein has the truly important information we have been waiting on:
For those who asked about how to get their free Bud Light due to @MattPrater_5 here’s what I was told:— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) January 8, 2021
Those 21+ in Michigan will be able to get their beer Jan 8 – Jan 31. Fans buy one six-pack of Bud Light (up to $6.99) and visit https://t.co/gJzTEqptLJ for redeeming details
- MLive’s Kyle Meinke followed up on reports from earlier in the week that the Lions were pursuing Seattle general manager John Schneider. The long and short of it: Rod Wood has no comment.
- The Athletic’s Bob McGinn asked four NFC executives in personnel to rank players in the division at each position and wrote up the results as an All-NFC North team (subscription required). According to The Athletic Detroit, tight end T.J. Hockenson was “among the Lions who stood out” on offense.
- ESPN’s Adam Schefter says he is hearing that former Lions special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs is drawing interest from potential employers.
- While defensive line coach Bo Davis is expected to leave for the University of Texas, Bruce Feldman from FOX Sports reports it is not yet a done deal.
- There is still time to sign up to try and get some free stuff from the Detroit Lions: