It appears the Rams and Chargers listened.
Per Ian Rapoport, both teams are prepared to interview Austin in their respective searches for a new head coach. The interviews will likely take place on Sunday or Monday after the Lions playoff game in Seattle on Saturday.
None of this is new for Austin. He has interviewed for eight head coaching jobs in the past two years, very nearly landing the gig with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.
“He should get one, he should have had one last year or the year before,” Caldwell said last month. “I believe in that.”
More than Caldwell’s endorsement, of course, it’s Austin’s work as a defensive coordinator that has thrust his hat into the head-coaching ring.
In 2014, he presided over a Lions’ defense that allowed the second fewest yards and third fewest points in the league. That unit slipped in 2015, hampered by the loss of Ndamukong Suh (free agency) and DeAndre Levy (injury), but rallied toward the end of the season – a strong reflection of Austin’s leadership.
The Lions improved on defense this year, finishing 13th overall in points against and overcoming injuries to Levy, Ziggy Ansah and Darius Slay.
“I think that every year he’s done a tremendous job. He did before he came here,” Caldwell said. “He’s been an outstanding coach from years back when I first took him with me to Wake Forest in 1993. We were together at Penn State (from 1991 to 1992) and years before that you could see all the trademarks of a guy who’s going to be really exceptional at what he does.
“And I think he’s doing the same thing today. He makes adjustments. He’s got the spirit and fire to move a group and he’s very knowledgeable.”
Austin declined on Wednesday to answer questions about his upcoming interviews.
“Not thinking about them. We’ve got Seattle Saturday,” he said. “I’m not going to talk about that, doesn’t make any sense.”
“If something happens beyond that, then we’ll talk after that,” added.
When Caldwell was asked if Austin is indeed scheduled to meet with the Chargers and the Rams, he replied, “Cannot confirm, but I certainly hope so.”