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TWENTYMAN: A look at the candidates the Lions have interviewed to date

Posted Jan 12, 2014

The Lions have brought in four former head candidates with a mind for offense in the search for their next head coach

The Detroit Lions hosted Jim Caldwell, Mike Munchak and Gary Kubiak in Allen Park over the last week and traveled to San Diego to interview Ken Whisenhunt for their open head coaching position.

Ken Whisenhunt

Age: 51

Ken WhisenhuntAP Images

Coaching history: Vanderbilt (special teams/tight ends) 1995-96; Baltimore Ravens (tight ends) 1997-98; Cleveland Browns (tight ends) 1999; New York Jets (special teams) 2000; Pittsburgh Steelers (Tight ends/offensive coordinator) 2001-06; Arizona Cardinals (head coach) 2007-12; San Diego Chargers (offensive coordinator) 2013-present.

Playing career: Played tight end at Georgia Tech (1980–84) and finished first team all-ACC during his final two college seasons. He was a 12th-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 1985. Also played for Washington (1989-90) and the New York Jets (1991-92).

UPDATE: The Tennessee Titans announced Monday evening that they have hired Whisenhunt to fill their coaching vacancy.

Jim Caldwell

Age: 58

Jim CaldwellAP Images

Coaching history: Southern Illinois (wide receivers) 1978-80; Northwestern (assistant - offense) 1981; Colorado (wide receivers) 1982-84; Louisville (wide receivers) 1985; Penn State (quarterbacks) 1986-92; Wake Forest (head coach) 1993-2000; Tampa Bay Bucs (quarterbacks) 2001; Indianapolis Colts (quarterbacks) 2002-08; Indianapolis Colts (head coach) 2009-11; Baltimore Ravens (offensive coordinator) 2012-present.

Playing career: Four-year starter at defensive back for Iowa in the 70s.

Why he might fit: Caldwell's coaching philosophy is based on fundamentals and discipline, something the Lions could certainly use more of.

He also knows how to coach the quarterback position. Peyton Manning credits Caldwell for taking his game to another level when he was his quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis.

Caldwell helped the Ravens to a Super Bowl title last year as their play caller and also took Indianapolis to a Super Bowl (losing to New Orleans) while he was the head coach.

Why he might not fit: In Caldwell's last season in Indianapolis, the team went 2-14 when Manning missed the entire year because of a neck injury. He couldn't find a way to win without Manning at quarterback.

He's also had a couple questionable clock management moments, one in particular against the New York Jets in a playoff loss in 2011, when he called a timeout that gave the Jets an opportunity to run an extra play and kick a shorter field goal to win the game.

Mike Munchak

Age: 53

Mike MunchakAP Images

Coaching history: Houston Oilers (offensive assistant/quality control) 1994-96; Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans (offensive line) 1997-2010; Tennessee Titans (head coach) 2011-13.

Playing career: All-American offensive lineman at Penn State before being drafted by the Oilers in the first round (No. 8) of the 1982 NFL Draft. Munchak was a 10 time All Pro and elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

Why he might fit: Munchak is an old-school kind of coach who preaches discipline, professionalism and doing things the right way. He's a former player who believes in accountability and self-discipline. There were times under the Lions' old regime where players weren't always held accountable for their actions. There was also a double standard at times for some players, which wouldn't be the case under Munchak.

Why he might not fit: Munchak was fired following a 7-9 season this year when he refused to make changes on his coaching staff. Some have lauded that as admirable, but it can also be a red flag. Sometimes hard coaching decisions need to be made for the betterment of the team. Would Munchak be able to make those tough decisions?

Gary Kubiak

Age: 52

Gary KubiakAP Images

Coaching history: Texas A&M (running backs) 1992-93; San Francisco 49ers (quarterbacks) 1994; Denver Broncos (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks) 1995-2005; Houston Texans (head coach) 2006-2013.

Playing career: Played quarterback at Texas A&M, where he set the Southwest Conference records in 1982 with 1,948 passing yards and 19 touchdowns. Kubiak was drafted by Denver in the 8th round of 1983 draft, the same year John Elway came to the Broncos. Kubiak spent his entire nine-year career backing up Elway.

Why he might fit: He has the most NFL head coaching experience among all the candidates and has built his resume with successful offense. He led an organization that had never been in the postseason to playoff wins in both 2011 and 2012.

He also had success as both Steve Young and John Elway's quarterback coach early in his coaching career.

Why he might not fit: Kubiak was fired as Houston's head coach with three games left this season after the team completely gave up on the season and lost 11 straight. A losing skid at the end of the season cost Jim Schwartz his job also.

There's also the concern about his health. Kubiak missed a game this year after suffering a "mini stroke" walking off the field at halftime of a loss to Indianapolis Nov. 3.

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