TWENTYMAN: Should the Lions interview a defensive-minded coach for their head coaching vacancy?

Posted Jan 10, 2014

The Lions have formally interviewed four candidates ... all of them are offensive-minded coaches

The Detroit Lions have formally interviewed Ken Whisenhunt, Jim Caldwell, Mike Munchak and Gary Kubiak for their head coaching vacancy.

There are a couple similarities between those candidates that stand out right away. One, they all have previous head coaching experience. Two, they are all offensive minded.

General manager Martin Mayhew said in the press conference announcing the firing of Jim Schwartz -- a former defensive coordinator -- on Dec. 30 that the organization had a profile and a list of traits they wanted in their next coach.

"Obviously, experience as a head coach is important," he said. "It doesn't matter what side of the ball it is. I also think we can to take into account a coach's ability to change our culture a little bit. It has to be something bigger than just scheme that somebody's bringing to our table."

There are a couple candidates with an expertise for defense on the market; guys like Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, but neither has been linked to the Lions.

Zimmer is reportedly "a favorite" to land in Minnesota.

It's become clear the Lions are looking for someone who can take their offense to another level and get the most out of quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Quite frankly, that has to be the approach if you consider how many resources the Lions have placed on that side of the football.

The two highest paid players on the team – Stafford and All Pro receiver Calvin Johnson – account for nearly $200 million in yet-to-be paid salary.

The No. 1 free agent acquisition last offseason was running back Reggie Bush, who the team committed $16 million to over four years.

An outside receiver to help take some of the pressure off Johnson is likely to be high on the Lions' wish list this offseason, either via the draft or free agency.

Considering all of that, it's no surprise the Lions are looking for new leadership on that side of the football and would rather it stretch all the way to the top of the coaching chain.

The Lions are only going to go as far as Stafford can take them. The team's struggles down the stretch this season coincided with Stafford's decrease in production.

The Lions are looking for someone who can help guide him back to his 2011 level of play (5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns) and change the culture ... especially the culture on offense.

The right offensive coordinator could potentially do that, but when the head coach has a mind for offense and takes the reins, the culture can't help but change.