By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – The Detroit Lions want Ken Whisenhunt, and although the team reportedly has interviews with several other candidates, Whisenhunt is the easy favorite, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
With the wild card round of the NFL playoffs complete, the Lions could interview Whisenhunt, the offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers, at any time. The Lions could not hire Whisenhunt until after the Chargers are eliminated from the playoffs, but with San Diego set to face future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos this weekend, the announcement of a hire could come sooner rather than later.
Whisenhunt has previous head coaching experience, with six years at the helm of the Arizona Cardinals from 2007 to 2012, and he is renowned for his work for reviving quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Phillip Rivers.
Since Lions passer Matthew Stafford struggled toward the end of the 2013 season, falling below the middle of the pack in terms of passer rating and one of the worst in the NFL as far as throwing interceptions, the hiring of a quarterback-savvy coach (or one who will bring in such a coordinator) has been highly touted as a necessity for Detroit.
Whisenhunt would fit the bill in that regard, and he has a connection to the Lions. Whisenhunt and Lions general manager Martin Mayhew played together for the Washington Redskins in 1989 and 1990.
Detroit fired fifth-year head coach Jim Schwartz the day after the 2013 season concluded. The Lions started the season 6-3 but skidded to a 7-9 finish, losing six of their last seven games. In doing so, Detroit wasted a golden opportunity to win the usually tough NFC North, which this season languished because of injuries that kept Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Chicago quarterback Jay Culter out of many games.