Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hey Matt! Who's the coach?

You know, I didn't want to stare, but I could've sworn that was Mike Tice flipping my eggs this morning. (Or maybe it was another Mike; they're all blurring together for me right now.) Hey, I said over easy, man!

Bad time of year to be a NFL head coach, eh? How many firings are we up to now? Eight? Or is it technically seven as long as Matt Millen doesn't officially axe Dick Jauron? One would think he'd learn how not to leave a coach hanging by now.

And that leads me to the current talk of the town: Who will be the next coach of the Detroit Lions? Oh, that rumor mill is a-churnin' right now! Thankfully, Brian at Beyond Boxscores pulled together the latest rumors for us. Could Jim Haslett be the guy? How about Russ Grimm? (Doesn't he have the perfect surname for a Lions coach?) Mike Singletary, anyone? Al Saunders seems to be the favorite in several circles.

(Photo by Daniel Mears/
The Detroit News)

While loitering shopping at Barnes and Noble over the holiday weekend, I flipped through last week's Sports Illustrated, in which Peter King listed his top coaching candidates:

1. Tim Lewis: Giants defensive coordinator. Only 44 years old, despite his impressive 19-year coaching resume (which includes a 2001 Pittsburgh unit that led the NFL in total defense.)
2. Gregg Williams: Redskins' defensive coordinator. But as of yesterday, officially off the list for this year, thanks to a contract extension.
3. Pat Hill: Fresno State head coach. In case you went "Wha... ?" like me, he has the gold star that comes with being a former Bill Belichick assistant.
4. Russ Grimm: Steelers offensive line coach/assistant head coach. Pittsburgh has that tough defense and running game. Plus, he's macho mustachioed, like Millen.
5. Al Saunders: Chiefs offensive coordinator. Quick, name more than one Chiefs wide receiver. Yet KC had the NFL's top total offense. What could he do with the Lions' roster?
6. Eric Mangini: Patriots defensive coordinator. Again, the Belichick gold star. Only 34 years old. Is he the defensive version of Jon Gruden, who got the Raiders job at 35?
7. Maurice Carthon: Browns offensive coordinator. Had the same job with the Lions in 2002. Does previously working in Detroit make him more or less likely to be interested?
8. Mike Martz: Former Rams head coach. We know he coaches a great offense. Not so good with the defense, though. And it seems like he doesn't quite get that.
9. Dan Reeves: Currently a consultant with the Texans. I have one word for you: Retread. Oh, wait - I have five more: Are you #@$%ing kidding me? But Peter King knows his stuff.
10. Jim Schwartz: Titans defensive coordinator. Great coaching pedigree, working under Belichick, Williams, and Jeff Fisher. And another young buck, at 39 years old.

I know a lot of people, including Out of Bounds' Greg Eno and the eponymous Kevin Antcliff, favor an offensive guru as the next Lions' head coach. And The Sports Inferno's Terry Foster says the Lions' ownership wants offense, too. I can definitely see the appeal. Joey Harrington chucking the ball down the field to Roy Williams, Charles Rogers, and Mike Williams, along with giant holes for Kevin Jones to run through would make Sundays fun again. I've always loved wide-open, offense-oriented football, and have dreamed of seeing that in Detroit.

But is that really how you win in the NFL nowadays? I can feel my opinions making a turn. Like Brian, I'm leaning toward wanting a defensive coach in Detroit, such as Tim Lewis. Teams built around a defense and running game tend to forge a toughness that could give the Lions an identity they've sorely lacked over the last five years. They seem to find their way to winning more quickly. Even the superstar offensive teams, like the Colts, didn't become true Super Bowl contenders until they put a quality defense in place.

Of course, many defensive coaches tend to favor boring, conservative offenses, which would hardly take advantage of the resources currently on Detroit's roster. And that's a big concern. But a good coach looks at his available talent and tailors his schemes and philosophies accordingly. Look at what John Fox does with Steve Smith in Carolina. He knows the Panthers can win games when Smith gets the ball. But he wants to push the other team around, too. And we know Bill Belichick is a defensive coach. But he knew he had an innovative coach in Charlie Weis, and let him run the Patriots' offensive accordingly.

That's the sort of flexibility and creativity Matt Millen needs in his next head coach. Do I have faith he'll do the proper homework and find the right guy? Frankly, no. But what can we do, other than hope the third time's the charm for him?


  • At January 04, 2006 1:23 PM, Anonymous Kevin A. said…

    No to Martz, Haslett, Singletary and Jauron. I think Saunders is the best option for us, which is why we'll never get him. It's possible I have a football-related man crush on him, but why aren't we going after Gary Kubiak???

    Here is one situation I'd be OK with:

    Bring in Parcells (as though he's actually considering coming here), and have him bring Singletary in as his DC and assistant. Singletary learns, and if Bill goes "LB" on us, he can step right in.

  • At January 04, 2006 3:38 PM, Blogger the sports dude said…

    I don't like Singletary, too much of the "rookie like Morningweg" written all over him.

    I don't like Saunders, I am tired off the "offensive guru" bullshit. The other thing I don't like about him is if he is so good why is he not replacing Vermiel? Oh yeah, management and him don't see eye to eye... sounds too familiar to me.

    I don't want anyone from the college ranks either, whether or not they are tied to Belichick. No Hill, no Ferentz, NO NO NO!!

    Mike Martz is too crazy and too burned out if you ask me. Same with Dan Reeves, just give it up already.

    Jim Haslett is 50-50 with me, I think he could use a break more than anything. Good coach that just got screwed by a natural disaster and the NFL this season.

    Tim Lewis is intriguing, as is Russ Grimm, who is probably my #1, I have always loved me some Steelers!

    Oh yeah, and I am still loving them Bill Parcels rumors, wouldn't that be something?

  • At January 04, 2006 7:20 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    Peter King and I like the same guy? Either I am a moron or a potential NFL Insider. Whatever that is.

    I think Kubiak should be tossed into the mix, too, but the rumors are that he's headed for Houston.

  • At January 04, 2006 7:26 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Kevin, we're strong proponents of professing man-crushes here at Sweaty Men Endeavors. Give us a hug.

    Brian, you'd make an excellent NFL insider. But could you, like Peter King, write about NFL coaching candidates while touting the virtues of House or Starbucks' Peppermint Latte, as well?


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