Detroit Lions head coaching search: Latest news, updates as guys get hired

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Lions landed their general manager Thursday, hiring Brad Holmes from the Los Angeles Rams.

Now, the focus turns to pairing him with the right head coach.

The Lions have not conducted any second interviews with coaching candidates yet. Arthur Smith canceled his scheduled visit Friday, and is on the verge of becoming the next Atlanta Falcons head coach.

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Here is where things stand with the other six candidates the Lions have formally interviewed, and the rest of the job openings across the NFL.

The Lions’ candidates

Darrell Bevell, Lions interim head coach: Bevell said Thursday that he thought his interview with the Lions “went really well,” which corroborates what I was told last week. The Lions went 1-4 during Bevell’s stint as interim coach, but clearly played with a different vibe. He remains a viable candidate for the job.

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Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator: Bieniemy has made the interview rounds again this offseason, meeting with five teams last week, but has not generated much head coaching buzz. He said Thursday ‘it was an honor and a privilege” to talk to the teams he did, but otherwise declined comment on the interview process.

Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator: Bowles is scheduled to interview virtually with the Lions on Friday. He emerged as a candidate late last week, a few days after the Lions had their first interview with Holmes. Whether that is a coincidence or not, time will tell. The Bucs play the New Orleans Saints in a divisional game Sunday, and Bowles cannot meet in person until after they are eliminated from the playoffs.

Dan Campbell, New Orleans Saints assistant head coach: Campbell, a former Lions tight end, is considered one of the favorites for the job. He is considered more of a leader than an offensive or defensive mastermind, and that is one trait the Lions have identified as important in their search. Campbell does not appear to be in the mix for any other jobs, so if the Lions want him, they can wait until the Saints’ season is done.

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Marvin Lewis, Arizona State defensive coordinator: Lewis was the first candidate the Lions interviewed for head coach, and would bring the most experience to the position if the Lions want to offset Holmes’ youth. The 62-year-old former Cincinnati Bengals coach also interviewed with the Houston Texans, but does not appear to be in the mix for that job.

Robert Saleh, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator: Saleh agreed to a deal to become the New York Jets coach late Thursday night.

Arthur Smith, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator: Smith was due for an in-person interview Friday, but that was scuttled after he reportedly agreed to a deal with the Atlanta Falcons, where he is expected to join another one-time Lions target at GM, Terry Fontenot.

The openings

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons appear to have wrapped up their coaching search with Smith.

Houston Texans: Former Lions coach Jim Caldwell is believed to be one of the front runners for the job. If Caldwell is hired, he will become the first full-time Lions coach to get another head coaching job in the Super Bowl era. The Texans have reportedly requested interviews with two potential Lions targets, Bieniemy and L.A. Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, and previously spoke with Lewis.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars successfully lured Urban Meyer out of retirement, and still are looking to pair him with the right GM. Meyer never was considered a realistic candidate in Detroit.

Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers have focused their search on candidates that are mostly off the Lions’ radar, including Brian Daboll, Joe Brady, Jason Garrett and Matt Eberflus. Bieniemy is the only remaining candidate who has interviewed with both the Chargers and Lions (though L.A. did interview Saleh and Smith.)

New York Jets: The Jets filled their vacancy with Saleh.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles got a late start on their search, firing Doug Pederson as head coach more than a week after their season ended. They missed out on Saleh and Smith, met with Brady this week and reportedly will interview Jerod Mayo on Friday. It’s unclear whether Philadelphia will interview Bieniemy and fellow Chiefs assistant Mike Kafka, who cannot meet with teams until after the Chiefs are eliminated from the playoffs.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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