Although they never said it publically the Detroit Lions first choice to replace head coach Jim Schwartz was Ken Whisenhunt. NFL talking heads also ruminated that the Lions, with the strong armed Matthew Stafford as bait, was Whisenhunt’s first choice as well.
Not sure what changed but as Monday wore on, what seemed to be inevitable became much less likely.
Then as the Lions had a private jet fueling on the runway to pick up Whisenhunt in San Diego, the former Arizona Cardinals Head coach accepted the job in Tennessee.
But even as the Lions were preparing for Ken Whisenhunts arrival they front office was also prepping for plan B, Jim Caldwell. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter the Lions were in talk with the Baltimore Ravens about their Offensive Coordinator.
Lions have spent day in talks with Ravens HC Jim Caldwell and Detroit has been focusing on him, via @mortreport and me.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 13, 2014
The Ravens weren’t the only people talking to the Lions brass about Jim Caldwell. ESPN reports that Tony Dungy called Tom Lewand to talk about the attributes his predecssor in Indianapolis could bring to the Lions. He recounted his conversation with Lions GM Martin Meyhew to ESPN.
I already had told [Lions GM] Martin Maywhew that Caldwell is a great match for a team that has the personnel of being capable of playing in the Super Bowl,” said Dungy. “I think the Lions were not only impressed with Jim’s interview but they were pleasantly surprised by the number of former Colts players who called on his behalf. Jim made Peyton Manningan even better quarterback — look at the numbers and wins — and I think he can do the same for Matthew Stafford.
I know the Lions also want discipline and good character in the locker room. I’m not saying their other candidates can’t achieve those things but those are Jim’s strengths with his background, especially from his influence under Joe Paterno at Penn State and hopefully in our program in the NFL.”
According to Tim Twentyman of Detroitlions.com, Caldwell had another high-profile endorsement of his ability to mentor quarterbacks.
Dungy isn’t the only one who endorsed Jim Caldwell to the #Lions. I’m also hearing quarterback Peyton Manning did too.
— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) January 13, 2014
As far as references go you can’t get much better than Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning. But is it enough to land Caldwell what is considered the most attractive job opening in the NFL?
Stay tuned because the Lions will likely make their decision in the next 24 hours.