5 Prospects That Could Replace Matt Patricia As the Lions’ Head Coach

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Detroit, MI — December 1, 2020

After the Detroit Lions 41-25 defeat at the hands of the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving day, Owner Sheila Ford Hamp had seen enough, and on Saturday she dismissed Matt Patricia as the team’s head coach. Patricia’s inability to bring the defensive magic he wove for the New England Patriots as defensive coordinator under Bill Belichick to the Motor City also cost general manager Bob Quinn his job.

Don’t blame Patricia for everything, remember it was Quinn who thought it was a great idea to fire coach Jim Caldwell after he posted a 36-20 record and two playoff appearances in four years. Caldwell’s winning percentage of .563 was the highest of any Lions’ coach who was with the team for more than 1 season since Buddy Parker. Buddy who? Yes, Buddy Parker, his last year with the Lions was 1956, 64 years ago. Parker was 47-23-2 in five seasons. Patricia’s record, 13-28-1 in two and a half seasons.

New Coach, New Hope

Hope springs eternal, even for a Lions’ fan. Who might Hamp turn to and trust with the reins of coaching control to lead her franchise? Let’s look at 5 favorites who could have a shot at turning the downtrodden club around and take them to the Super Bowl.

San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh

Robert Saleh, Photo Credit: Jeff Chiu / AP

Saleh seems to be the current favorite. After all, defensive wins championships and Saleh has the credits to back up his candidacy. Last year the 49ers made it to the Super Bowl and lost to Kansas City. Their record in 2019 was 13-3. However, it is the only winning record for San Francisco in the four years Saleh has been the defensive coordinator and they are 5-6 currently in 2020.

Saleh began his coaching career at Michigan State in 2002 as a defensive assistant, leaving after the 2003 season. He was born in Dearborn, MI, and attended Northern Michigan University, so he has some local roots.

K.C. Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy

Eric Bieniemy, Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports

If offense is your thing, Eric Bieiemy is the current king. A 13-year assistant in the NFL, 10 as a running backs coach, and the last three as offensive coordinator for the Chiefs. He currently directs the high-flying Kansas City offense with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback.

Bieniemy attended the University of Colorado where he played running back and became the school’s all-time rushing leader with 3,940 yards. He also holds the school record for all-purpose yards with 4,351 and the most touchdowns scored with 42.

His 9-year professional career featured stints with Chargers, Bengals, and Eagles. A solid resume in both the college and professional ranks, but never a head coach. Is it time?

Carolina Panthers Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady

Joe Brady, Photo Credit: David T. Foster III / The Charlotte Observer

If young enthusiasm appeals to your desired qualities in a head coach, Joe Brady might be your guy. Just 31 years old and fresh off a National Championship with LSU in 2019 as their passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach, Brady joined the Panthers as their Offensive Coordinator. The highlight of his resume is two years as an offensive assistant for the New Orleans Saints working with Sean Payton and Drew Brees. Brady might be the biggest gamble in the bunch, can the Lions afford to roll the dice?

Iowa State’s Matt Campbell

Matt Campbell, Photo Credit: Reese Strickland / USA Today Sports

If success in the college ranks is an indicator of coaching talent, look no further than Matt Campbell the head coach at Iowa State. After building Toledo into a consistent MAC contender with a 35-15 record in just over four years, Campbell proved he could turn a program around. The Rockets had three 9-win seasons during his tenure at the school.

After Toledo, Campbell took over at Iowa State where he led the school out from under the shadow of their state rival from the Big Ten, the Iowa Hawkeyes. With three bowl appearances in 5 years, his name appears on the top of the wish list for several teams. Do the Lions dare to take on a head coach with no professional experience?

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh, Photo Credit: Tony Ding / AP Photo

With his time at Michigan rumored to be coming to an end, a return to the NFL might be just what Jim Harbaugh needs to re-establish his stellar coaching credentials. Remember Harbaugh took over a struggling San Francisco franchise that had not made the playoffs in 8-years prior to his arrival. He led them to the post-season in his first three years with the team and posted a 44-19 record with the club before leaving the professional ranks to return to his alma mater.

Despite being under fire for the Wolverines’ performance in big games against Ohio State and Michigan State, Harbaugh has a 49-22 record playing in one of the premier conferences in the country. He has led Michigan to five consecutive bowl games, a streak that will likely end in 2020.

Could the jeers turn to cheers by moving 45 miles down I-94? Will Sheila Ford Hamp have the guts to make that call? Stay tuned, the fun is just beginning.