Lions shake up organizational structure, could hire coach before GA

ALLEN PARK – The Detroit Lions let their senior executives choose their own coaches for, well, forever. Matt Millen chose Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci and Rod Marinelli. Martin Mayhew chose Jim Schwartz and Jim Caldwell. Bob Quinn chose to stay with Caldwell rather than fire him, before sacking him and choosing Matt Patricia.

None of this worked. None of that.

And this time around, it looks like they’re changing the formula.

“We don’t wait until a general manager is hired to find the head coach,” team president Rod Wood said Tuesday morning.

With no CEO in place, Wood led the front office’s annual season-end press conference. He’s provided several substantial updates to the club’s search for a new coach and GM, and make no mistake, the Lions could always hire a GM first. But it has more to do with their interviews with CEOs – seven of them are already in the bag – and the fact that they’re ready to hire a coach first is a sign that the organization is restructuring its coaching dynamics. to be able to.

The Lions intend to hire a coach directly and independently of the new GM. They want this coach to be a “partner” with the general manager rather than working for him. There is a precedent for this as well, with the Browns only doing it last year with Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry. The Raiders (with Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock) and the Washington football team (Ron Rivera and TBD) are also taking this route.

The Lions tell GM candidates their favorites for the coach, and vice versa, so any potential hires wouldn’t be caught off guard on a subsequent hire.

“What we’re looking for are people who can work together and be partners, and not necessarily each other,” said Wood. “So that doesn’t require us to hire a general manager beforehand. It can work that way because we’re a little ahead of the GM search, compared to the head coach search. But if we find the perfect head coach and we haven’t found a GM yet, we’re not going to wait for the coach.

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One of the reasons this approach makes sense: competition. Anthony Lynn’s sacking by the Chargers on Monday brought the list of teams seeking a new coach to six, along with the Jaguars, Jets, Falcons and Texans. That’s a lot of teams kicking the tires on a finite number of candidates.

Detroit already interviewed Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, one of this cycle’s most sought-after candidates on Monday night. Bieniemy also interviewed the Falcons on Monday and the New York Jets also requested an interview according to reports.

Another candidate, Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, is expected to speak to the Lions next week. But all of the other teams looking for a head coach also requested the same interview according to multiple reports.

“You know, we’re competing with other teams who are going to meet some of the same people,” said Wood. “I think it’s important to have the right coach, and if that means we have to hire a coach first, that’s what we’ll do.”

Former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis previously interviewed for Detroit last week, while Interim head coach Darrell Bevell will meet with the club today. Detroit has also requested to speak with 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Saints assistant head coach / tight ends coach Dan Campbell.

This is the known list, and from the sounds of it, this is the list, period. Detroit’s next coach is one of those six men.

The same goes for the list of 12 candidates for general management. The Lions have already completed talks with former Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, former Texans general manager Rick Smith, ESPN analyst Louis Riddick and internal candidates Lance Newmark. , Kyle O’Brien and Rob Lohman; they also asked to speak with Saints VP / Assistant GM for Professional Staff Terry Fontenot, Rams College Scouting Director Brad Holmes, Vikings Assistant GM George Paton and Saints Deputy GM Jeff Ireland.

Lions are also interested in attack current Seahawks general manager John Schneider according to the NFL network. Wood declined to say whether this interest was genuine.

“With Bob’s process, we interviewed three people,” said Wood. “We’ve already interviewed seven for the GM, and we’ll add to that list. I also think it’s enough to understand how jobs work and what jobs are, and being a GM isn’t necessarily just picking players and building the roster. There is more to it. So find people who have some of the skills required to be a good manager of people and process, not just pick players.

“Then with the head coach I think leadership and someone who can work with the GM and someone who has had experience as a head coach or you can project that experience as a coordinator to be a head coach and really dive into these types of questions – not that we haven’t done this with looking for Matt (Patricia), but I think trying to do it differently will help us to find the right people.

So what makes a person good for this job? What are they looking for after leaving so many times for so many years, and things are particularly bad with the latest hires?

“We’ve developed very specific criteria for the two positions we’re looking for that are unique – you know, not totally unique, but we think, in some cases, very unique to our situation,” said Wood. “I won’t share them all with you, but I would say they focus on leadership, culture, teamwork, awareness of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. And what we’re really looking for is an open and inclusive culture, where everyone works as a team, and where communication is paramount and where everyone does the right thing for the Detroit Lions.

“The people we are looking for and the people we interview, I think, have those traits. As we go through the interview process, I will find people who we are 100% confident will be the right people for the organization. And like I said, I think in one of the previous calls it’s really different from how we approached the search for Bob and Matt where we were more focused on the candidates just because of their achievements as opposed to criteria that had been established before starting the interviews. I am very comfortable with the process and how it works so far.

Here is the known schedule of interviews, by NFL network:

On Monday: Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy

Today: Saints VP / Deputy General Manager for Professional Staff Terry Fontenot; Interim Lions Head Coach Darrell Bevell

Wednesday: Brad Holmes, director of screening at Rams College; George Paton, Deputy General Manager of the Vikings

Thusday: 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh

Friday: Jeff Ireland, Deputy Director General of the Saints

Next week: Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith; Saints Assistant Head Coach / Tight Ends Coach Dan Campbell


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