The Lions have finally fired Rod Marinelli, which is kind of sad in a way. Marinelli was a hard-working, no-nonsense, likable guy. He just didn’t have what it took to reverse a team so entrenched in losing that it probably couldn’t spell ‘win’ even if you gave them the first two letters.
Now the Lions begin the process of choosing a new head coach. Thankfully, Matt Millen won’t be around to perform this task. That fact alone should prove major asset, but there is one question that the Lions are inevitably going to face when trying to hire a new head coach: Why would anybody WANT to coach the Lions? The team has little talent, an owner that couldn’t handle running a tiddlywinks team, much less an NFL franchise, and an untested front office.
These sad conditions will make the Lions search for a head coach difficult. Detroit is not going to be able to lure some A-list candidate like Bill Cowher or Steve Spagnuolo. They would never consider stepping into the Millen-made mess that is the Detroit Lions. Detroit then, is going to have to find somebody either less qualified or more desperate. With these sobering facts in mind, here are my top three and bottom three coaching choices for the Lions.
3: Josh McDaniels. This New England Patriots quarterback coach earned a lot of respect this year based on his work with Matt Cassell. He’s been with the Patriots eight years, so he has plenty of experience, including Super Bowl experience. He would fit well for Detroit, a team that has not had a decent quarterback since Gary Danielson. I could see him definitely improving Dan Orlovsky or Drew Stanton.
2: Urban Meyer. I don’t know if there is any way the Lions could induce the University of Florida head coach to leave his current job, but if they could, he would be an excellent choice. The man knows offense inside and out. I’m sure other teams will be giving Meyer a long, hard look as well, but if Detroit acts quickly and offers big bucks, they might just get lucky. The only potential drawback here might be the ‘curse of the M’s’. The last three Lions head coaches names ended in M (Mornhinweg, Mariucci, and Marinelli).
1: Pat Hill. This coach of Fresno State might be more in the realms of reality for the Lions, which is why I list him number one. He worked under Bill Belichick and always gets the most out of teams with sparse talent. Hill would be a solid choice and might actually inspire a little hunger in a team that has seemingly lost its appetite.
As a Lions fan, I would be delighted with any of the three above candidates, but I know the franchise all too well. They pick lousy head coaches and then hang on to them WAY too long. Hence, here are three choices that the Lions might consider but should definitely shy away from.
3: Steve Mariucci. It has been rumored that Steve is considering getting back into coaching again, and the Lions are certainly dumb enough to hire him again. Fortunately for Detroit, it looks as though he wants to keep his family in California and would thus not consider a return to Detroit. At least let’s hope so.
2: Brian Billick. Sure, he won a Super Bowl, but he had talent up to his eyeballs. Billick is now a competent announcer and in many Coors Light commercials. I worry that the Lions may take another broadcaster, as they did with Millen, and try to squeeze him into a crappy organization because they are wowed by his glib commentating.
1: Marty Schottenheimer. Sure, he has lots of experience. What he doesn’t have is a good playoff record (5-13). The bad news for Lions fans is that Marty is desperate to get back into coaching, which means he could probably come up with a pretty entertaining song and dance to the Lions executives, who will seemingly hire anybody wearing a smile and willing to do Ford commercials.
Can ANYBODY turn the Lions around? A lot of fans think that so long as the Ford family owns the team the answer is no. So I suppose even more important than who the Lions choose as their next head coach is this question: Can somebody (anybody!) convince Ford to sell the Lions?