Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez react to GM Bob Quinn’s news conference and provide takeaways, Jan. 4, 2019.
Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
The Detroit Lions aren’t in any rush to hire a new offensive coordinator, and general manager Bob Quinn said all options remain on the table for replacing Jim Bob Cooter, including staying in-house.
“There’s no timetable,” Quinn said Friday in his annual end-of-season news conference. “We’re just going to get this right. There’s no rush. The way this works in the NFL is you can’t talk to people that are employed by other teams, so there’s a waiting period if teams are still playing. So our candidate pool is pretty wide right now, so we’re going to keep it wide until it narrows down and then we’ll go hire the right guy.”
The Lions fired Cooter on Tuesday after 3 1/2 seasons as offensive coordinator, and have two assistants with previous play-calling experience on their current staff.
Offensive line coach Jeff Davidson was assistant head coach and coordinator with the Cleveland Browns in 2006 and the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator in 2007-10.
Quarterbacks coach George Godsey was the Houston Texans’ offensive coordinator in 2015-16, though he was stripped of his play-calling duties early in the 2016 season.
The Lions should have several other candidates to consider for their coordinator role, including former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis (who worked with Davidson and Lions head coach Matt Patricia with the New England Patriots) and ex-Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase (if he doesn’t get another head-coaching job), and could request permission to speak with other assistants still under contract with NFL teams.
Quinn said the new hire will “primarily” be made by Patricia, though he wouldn’t rule out Patricia seeking input from quarterback Matthew Stafford on candidates.
“I think Matt’s going to hire this guy,” Quinn said of Patricia. “Matthew Stafford is very opinionated on a lot of things in terms of players, coaches, maybe Matt will reach out to him and ask him about, ‘Hey, call your friend at this team and ask about him.’ I’m not sure. We haven’t gone that far yet.”
Stafford was vocal about his desire to retain Cooter as coordinator amid a coaching change last January, and the 10th-year quarterback said last month that he would provide his opinion on that and other moves if he was asked this offseason.
“Obviously, I’ve been with this team for a long time, seen a lot of people come in and out,” Stafford said. “Probably have some unique perspective on some things. But at the same time, those guys’ jobs are solely to do those kind of things and my job is to score touchdowns and get our offense in the end zone so that’s what I’ll focus on.”
The Lions ranked 24th in total offense and 25th in scoring offense this season as they moved toward having a more balanced attack overall.
They ran the ball on 39.6 percent of their offensive plays this season, which was their highest total since Jim Schwartz’s final season as coach and Scott Linehan’s as offensive coordinator in 2013 (40.4 percent).
Quinn said he’ll help Patricia research offensive coordinator candidates, and that the team is looking for someone with an “adaptable” system that can adjust his attack based on the defense the Lions are facing in any given week.
“We’re looking for someone that improves the offense,” Quinn said. “I think we want a balanced attack, like we talked about before. We want to be able to run the ball, we want to be able to use our quarterback because he has a ton of talent. So, we want to be diverse. We’re not going to sit there and be in four wide receivers, shotgun every play and throw it 45 times. That’s not good for anybody. On the other hand, we’re not going to be three tight ends and run the ball 40 times.
“We need to do a better job of going into each week looking at the opponent and say, ‘How are we going to beat this team?’ If they have a great run defense and a poor pass defense, maybe we throw it 45 times and vice versa. So we want someone that thinks that way.”
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