The Hunt for the ‘Coach of the Future’ Continued
By Zachary Best
Today, I continue the series on who could be the coach of the future in Detroit. Will Mike Shanahan be a factor? How about Leslie Fraizer? Let’s take a closer look at some more candidates for the head coaching job.
Leslie Fraizer, Defensive Coordinator, Minnesota Vikings–
Fraizer interviewed for the Atlanta and Miami job last season, and both teams liked his interview, but went with other options. Fraizer has done a good job with the Viking defense, and if he bolts, he will be the second defensive coordinator in three years to become a head coach. The Lions plan to interview Fraizer in about a week. Minnesota’s defense ranked 6th in total defense, and first in rushing defense (just what the Lions dream for).
Leslie Fraizer has the experience on the defensive side of the ball that I love. He worked under Tony Dungy with the Colts, and helped lead a cornerbacks group that was key to the Indianapolis super bowl run. He has a pretty good relationship with Viking head coach Brad Chilress, so it might be hard to peel him away from Minnesota, but if they can, He could be their option for future coach.
Mike Mularkey, Offensive Coordinator, Atlanta Falcons– The Lions have contacted the Atlanta Falcons on the availablility of former Buffalo head coach and current Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularky. Mularky has seen a lot of experience in this league, including three stints as an offensive coordinator. Mularky coached two years with the Bills, and couldn’t get success brewing in New York. Mularkey has been linked to the Cleveland job as well.
Mularkey is not the best man for this job, and hasn’t ever proved to be a “game changing” coach at this level. Again, if Mularkey is hired, someone is going to have to fill in at the defensive coordinator spot, with a lot of experience.
Jim Schwartz, Defensive Coordinator, Tennessee Titans–
Schwartz has spent the last eight years with the Titans, and they have been 8 pretty good years. The Lions were scheduled to interview him today. Schwartz led the Titan’s to 7th in total defense in 2008. Most importantly, Schwartz has been a part of a rebuild on the defensive side of the ball. After the 2004 season, Schwartz lost 7 of his 11 starters. But the defense responded and had pretty good success despite starting two rookies at the cornerback position.
I personally believe that Schwartz has the perfect balance to be the next Lions head coach, considering, it seems that the Lions will not focus on a veteran type coach. Not only has Schwartz come out of a rebuild successful, he has constantly found a way to stop the run. In his last 56 home games, Schwartz has only allowed 8 100 yard rushers. With Martin Mehew believing that Rushing defense is key to a turnaround, Schwartz could be a favorite.
Rex Ryan, Defensive Coordinator, Baltimore Ravens– The Lions have major interest in Ryan, and his ability to turn around and maintain defenses. The Ravens, who are ranked second in team defense, have been rebuilt to almost mimic the talent of the 2000 Ravens defense. Ryan was around for that super bowl run as the defensive line coach. There is no doubt that Ryan is the cream of the crop when it comes to defenses, but with New York and St. Louis calling, Detroit might not be on Rex Ryan’s head coaching radar.
Here are the numbers you need to know-
1998-01: His defensive line did not allow a 100 yard rusher in 50 straight games.
2002: Held AFC to 3.7 yards per carry
2003: Led Defensive line and defense to league leading 47 sacks.
2004: Held Quarterbacks to a 68 QB rating.
2005: Took over as Defensive Coordinator; 5th best defense in the NFL, Second in the A.F.C.
2006: Number one defense in the league, led most defensive team categories.
2008: Second in total defense
I doubt Ryan will be an option, but If he were, he would be my favorite to take over the job.