The Detroit Lions are a franchise in limbo. They are trying to shrug off the identity of failure for good. The first step is to get the right head coach to right the sinking ship. The Lions are currently looking at a few candidates, but have only interviewed one. They’ve interviewed Jim Caldwell and are looking to interview Ken Whisenhunt as soon as they can. Whisenhunt seems to be the favorite by all accounts. Is he the right guy for the job?
Well he has won a Super Bowl coaching under Coach Bill Cowher. That is something to take into account. His only head coaching tenure was with the Arizona Cardinals. He went 8-8 the first year and then went to the Super Bowl in his second year. They did eventually lose the Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-27. Can we put much merit into him getting the Cardinals to the Super Bowl? First of all going to the Super Bowl doesn’t mean as much as winning it does. Secondly, Whisenhunt had a very talented team led by Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner.
After that Super Bowl loss, the Cardinals accomplished nothing more than mediocrity. The Cardinals went 10-6, 5-11, 8-8 and ended 5-11 in the last year of Whisenhunt’s tenure. Overall as a head coach he went 45-51. That’s not exactly the record that the Lions would like to see in their new head coach. If he were to get the position in Detroit, he would be in a completely different situation, specifically with his quarterback. Unlike with Warner, he would be coaching Matthew Stafford, who is coming off his second straight bad season. He’d be coaching a quarterback with potential, but one who hasn’t shown his talent consistently. Whisenhunt is a great offensive coordinator. He’s doing a great job with Mike McCoy in San Diego. But that doesn’t mean he’s qualified as a head coach. He’s an overrated coaching candidate. He didn’t accomplish much with the Cardinals and would do the same with the Lions.
It would be a risky gamble by the Lions if they hired Whisenhunt. They would be hiring a successful coordinator, but an unsuccessful head coach. Whisenhunt is known as an offensive mastermind. He isn’t known for his head coaching record or for being a disciplinarian, which is what the Lions are looking for. With all that in mind, that’s why this would be a bad hire for the Lions. They have a win now mentality. “I also think we can take into account a coach’s ability to change our culture a little bit,’’ General Manager Martin Mayhew said. “It has to be something bigger than just scheme that somebody’s bringing to our table.” Whisenhunt can’t give them that. His best season as a head coach, like Schwartz, was 10-6. You would be getting the same result, not a vastly better result.
If they do hire him, a lot of it would be based on Mayhew being friends with Whisenhunt. The two played together on the Washington Redskins. So, maybe he’ll play favorites. Maybe he will hire a friend instead of the most qualified candidate. That should be a big concern for Lions fans. If Mayhew and President Tom Lewand truly want to back up their statements with action, they should hire a proven head coach. They should hire a head coach that is a known disciplinarian and has a winning record. Whisenhunt and Caldwell don’t fit that mold and that’s why the Lions should look elsewhere to fill the vacancy.