By Ashley Scoby
With the Lions’ coaching staff shakeup just hours before they hopped on a plane to London Monday, Jim Bob Cooter is the name everyone is talking about. He was bumped up to Detroit’s offensive coordinator in the wake of Joe Lombardi’s firing. The 31-year-old has worked with Peyton Manning in both Indianapolis and Denver, and is now tasked with running a competent offense in Detroit and bringing the best out of Matthew Stafford. Here are a few basic things to know about Cooter, as he’s set to take over the offense this week against the Chiefs:
The Lions see him as more than just an everyday commodity
When the time came for Cooter to interview for jobs in the offseason this year, the Lions blocked teams’ requests, according to NFL Network.
Detroit has allowed other coaches on staff to be interviewed (such as defensive coordinator Teryl Austin), but shut it down for Cooter. They obviously saw something in him that they wanted to stick around.
Manning, who worked with Cooter in Indianapolis and Denver, also has reportedly sung his praises.
In NFL years, Cooter is an infant
Cooter (31) is now the second-youngest offensive coordinator in the NFL (behind Washington’s Sean McVay). He’s the same age as four players on the Lions’ roster (James Ihedigbo, Haloti Ngata, Matt Prater and Darryl Tapp), and he’s actually younger than five players (Rashean Mathis is 35, Lance Moore 32, Dan Muhlbach 34, Dan Orlovsky 32 and Manny Ramirez 32).
Cooter has been in his fair share of trouble
No stranger to the legal system, Cooter has been arrested twice. Once was for driving under the influence, and once was an aggravated burglary charge after he crawled through a window, stripped to his underwear and crawled into a woman’s bed, according to the arrest warrant.
For a league being challenged about its image and its conduct policies, especially in relation to violence against women, the NFL has consistently failed to punish its coaches on the same scale as its players. But Cooter has only shot up the coaching ranks since that 2009 incident, which happened while he was a staff assistant with the Colts. He’s largely considered one of the NFL’s “rising stars” – even with criminal complaints in his history.
How will the offense change under Cooter?
This is what fans want to know the most: Will the offense actually be better with Cooter running the show? Manning swears by the guy, but Manning has also largely been in head coach Jim Caldwell’s corner, and fans are turning on Caldwell this season too. During Monday’s press conference, Caldwell said he didn’t expect the offense to change overnight, but there would be some differences.
“You can’t change an offense in its entirety in two days’ time or a week’s time,” he said. “So it’s going to take some adjustments along the way here.”
If you couldn’t guess by the name, he’s from Tennessee
Cooter is from Fayetteville, Tennessee originally, then spent his college years as a backup quarterback for the University of Tennessee. He got his coaching start in Knoxville, where he was a graduate assistant before catching on with the Colts in 2009.
And for the record – Cooter’s real name is James Robert; he just chooses to go by Jim Bob.