Robert Saleh gets second interview with New York Jets; are Detroit Lions out on 49ers DC?

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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Robert Saleh, long considered the fan favorite to be the next Detroit Lions coach, is off to New York on Tuesday for a second interview with the Jets, and chances appear to be fading that he will be take over his hometown team.

Saleh, a Dearborn native, interviewed with the Lions and four other teams last week: The Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Chargers.

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He had a strong enough interview with the Jets that he is now considered one of the front runners for that job, while the Lions have yet to show any inclination they will ask him back for a second interview.

The Lions are expected to interview their sixth and seventh head coaching candidates this week, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and also have privately expressed interest in at least one sitting college head coach.

Interim head coach Darrell Bevell, ex-Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and New Orleans Saints assistant head coach Dan Campbell have officially interviewed for the job.

Bevell is considered a legitimate candidate, and has ties to two potential GM hires, Indianapolis Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds and Minnesota Vikings assistant GM George Paton.

Lewis has told people he had a good interview with the Lions, and a report out of Dallas on Tuesday indicated some in the Lions’ building favor Campbell, a former NFL tight end who played for the Lions and Dallas Cowboys during his career.

Campbell also has direct ties to two GM candidates, Saints assistant GMs Terry Fontenot and Jeff Ireland, though Fontenot is considered a front-runner for the Atlanta Falcons GM job.

The Lions are expected to bring one or two top candidates to Detroit for in-person interviews for both their head coach and GM jobs. Already, they have met in person with Paton, though Paton is reportedly heading to Denver for a second interview with the Broncos on Tuesday.

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The Lions have announced interviews with 11 GM candidates so far, with Dodds expected to become the 12th to meet with the team on Tuesday. Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert.also remains on the Lions’ radar, should he want to leave Pittsburgh.

As for Saleh, he remains in-demand after helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl last season and following that up with a top-seven finish in total, rushing and passing defense despite significant injury woes this year.

ESPN reported that the Philadelphia Eagles, who fired coach Doug Pederson on Monday, requested an interview with Saleh on Tuesday.

On Monday, Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp, president Rod Wood and adviser Chris Spielman held a Zoom call with about 40 alumni to update them on the coach and GM searches. No favorites for either position were named ont he call call, which included pre-moderated questions and lasted about a half hour.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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