Could The Lions Lose Austin And Cooter After This Season?
Head coaches can serve a multitude of different roles. Some, like Mike Zimmer and Rex Ryan, are brought in to create havoc-inducing defenses. Others, like Adam Gase or Sean Peyton are expected to build high-flying offenses that light up the scoreboard on Sundays. Then you have the John Harbaugh and Jim Caldwell types, who largely act as team CEOs making sure everything is running smoothly and is expected to make big in-game decisions.
Yes, Caldwell is offensively minded. He was with Peyton Manning in Indy, and an offensive coordinator at Baltimore where his performance gave him the Lions head job. Yet in Detroit, Caldwell has taken a more administrative role, letting his coaches make the game plan while he manages the entire operation. With a system like this, the on-field performance of a team sits on the offensive and defensive coordinator’s shoulders. When one side of the football plays well above a league average rate, then you have found yourself a possible head-coaching candidate.
Teryl Austin has been interviewing for jobs since his 2014 defense was ranked in the top 3 of the NFL. There have been whispers that Austin is a ‘Rooney Rule’ coach, a candidate specifically interviewed to fulfill the requirement of interviewing one minority coach. This year it seems different, as many NFL insiders such as Chris Mortensen of ESPN have said that Austin continues to have his name at the top of head coaching candidates lists. The Lions’ defense hasn’t allowed over 20 points in the last seven games, and have been producing turnovers at optimal times. Austin has also done a lot with a little, getting the most out of below-average NFL starters at multiple spots on the defense.
The other coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter, has been lauded by the media and in many NFL circles for the work he’s done with quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford is having his best season in the NFL without the help of Calvin Johnson or a running game. Where he was once considered a talented, yet reckless frat-boy gunslinger, Stafford is now in the middle of the MVP conversation as a respected leader who no longer makes back-breaking mistakes. Even though he lacks experience, JBC will be a hot candidate to be a head coach, especially for the now vacant spot in LA where a rookie QB awaits the Cooter’s tutelage.
The Rams job is already open, and there could be openings in Buffalo, Chicago, Jacksonville, San Diego, New York (Jets), and Indianapolis. It’s likely that at least one of either Austin or Cooter is gone, but both would be a crushing blow to the organization. Lions fans need to start preparing for the doomsday scenario that could be this coming January.