Lions already on the hunt for ‘Coach of the Future’
By Zachary Best
Less than a week after firing former Head Coach Rod Marinelli, The Lions are quickly putting together a list of assistant and former coaches to interview for the opening head coach job. Let’s take a look at the coaching names that have been already linked to the opening job in Detroit.
Jerry Gray, Secondary/Cornerback Coach, Washington Redskins-
Gray spent five years with the Buffalo Bills as the defensive coordinator, before heading to the capital city as the secondary coach the last few years. His defense in Buffalo ranked 2nd in the league in 2003. Gray also played in the NFL for nine seasons. Four of those years were pro bowl performances at the corner back position.Gray was the first coach contacted by the Lions.
Though he does have some success at higher positions, Gray has never been a coach at any level. He seems like the type that could fill in as the defensive coordinator if his interview goes well. But overall, I don’t see him as an option at head coach.
Jason Garrett, Offensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys-
Garrett became last year’s poster boy of new and young coaches coming into the league. After interviewing with the Ravens and Falcons last year, Garrett decided to go back to the Cowboys for an astronomical contract. His offense completely underperformed this season, and was a mediocre 13th in offensive production this season. The Lions have contacted Jerry Jones and have gained permission to talk to Garrett.
As bad as this offense looked last season, I still believe a defensive minded coach is what this organization needs. Jason Garrett hasn’t proven anything to me. Again, if you want to overpay for an offensive coordinator, than Garrett could fill that void rather nicely. Keep him out of the head coaching ranks though, at least in Detroit.
Steve Spagnuolo, Defensive Coordinator, New York Giants-
Spagnuolo is credited with the turnaround of the Giant defense that surged to the Super bowl in 2007-2008. Spanuolo has been a much wanted coach for quite a while and has a good reputation around the league. A lot of teams will have interest, so it could be hard for the Lions to sell their head coaching slot to him. One positive note though, is that Spagnuolo would like to stay on the east coast, preferably not in the same division as his former Giants. He is also a player favorite, and his squad always likes to play for him. Another plus, is that he apparently talks to god during games. Maybe that is the answer to all of us Lions fans just praying for a win before Christmas next year.
Spagnuolo, as much as he reminds me of Rod Marinelli, is the type of coach the Lions need for a turnaround. It could be interesting to see if he even considers this job. Of the current favorites, I like Spagnuolo the best, because he has the most experience. Though he is new to the NFL head coaching ranks, he has 15 years of experience at the college level, and two with NFL Europe.
Dennis Green, Former Head Coach, Vikings, Cardinals-
Green is the only veteran I’ll add to this list, because reports have come out that Brian Billick most likely will not be the head man in Detroit for 2009. Green is a players coach for sure, but he doesn’t let them walk all over him. He could be a good balance that this team needs to succeed. He is that veteran voice that could help in the locker room. One thing he would have to grasp is simply the fact that he would not be in control of the team. He doesn’t seem like the type to have a great relationship with the team president or General Manager, but who knows. All I know is the Lions, “Were who we thought they were.” Dennis Green knows that and could be willing to work with that fact.
Hmm, he don’t quite fit the system, but did Marty Morningweg or Rod Marinelli? If the Lions are sick of going the young and inexperienced route, and could work out a deal with Green, I wouldn’t be shocked. As much as he is critisized, a lot of the Cardinal success the past few seasons, has to be partially credited to Green. He did help build a solid foundation in Arizona. But like always, the question will be, how do you sell 0-16 to a coach who has experience, and could be demanded for other jobs around the league. If you remember, Dennis Green was interested in the job, when the Lions ultimately brought in Steve Mariucchi.
(This is part one of a two part series that will look at some names that have been officially linked to the Detroit Lions. Stay tuned later in the week for part two of this story.)