O'HARA: Stafford will be a part of head coach interview process

Posted Jan 6, 2014

QB Matthew Stafford met with current Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and will speak with other candidates

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has met with one candidate and expects to meet with others in the Lions’ interview process to hire a head coach to replace Jim Schwartz, who was fired last week.

Stafford met with current Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell at the Lions' facility in Allen Park. He will speak with other candidates either in person or by telephone, depending on whether he’s in town.

Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford (Photo: Gavin Smith)

He was asked by Lions management to be part of the interview process, Stafford said Monday in an appearance on the Mitch Albom Show on WJR-AM.

"It’s something, however much they ask me to be a part of it, I’ll be a part of it," Stafford said on the Albom Show. "I’m not knocking on the door. They asked me to sit in on that one, and as more and more interviews happen, whether I’m in town to sit with them and talk or whether we talk on the phone.

"I’m sure I’ll have some involvement in that process."

However, Stafford said he and Caldwell did not specifically discuss his performance or anything involved with the mechanics of playing quarterback.

"’Actually, none of that happened," Stafford said on the Albom Show. "Honestly, it was just he and I sitting down and talking. He told me he watched basically every play of our season. He picked  my brain about our team, and I picked his about his philosophy in coaching and all that kind of stuff."

It is not uncommon for a head-coach candidate to meet with a team’s established quarterback. Marc Trestman met with Jay Cutler when he was interviewed for the Chicago Bears’ vacancy last year.

There has been no indication that Stafford would have any say in who is hired to replace Schwartz. At last week’s press conference, President Tom Lewand and GM Martin Mayhew said that the Ford family will have the final call on who is hired after the full interview process is completed.

According to reports, the Lions have asked permission to interview two current offensive coordinators – Ken Whisenhunt of San Diego and Jay Gruden of Cincinnati. Coincidentally, San Diego defeated Cincinnati in the wild-card playoffs over the weekend.

Whisenhunt spent six seasons as head coach of the Cardinals. Caldwell was head coach of the Colts for three seasons. Both men took a team to the Super  Bowl as head coach and lost.

Stafford said he has never been involved in a coaching change at any level – high school in Dallas, at the University of Georgia, or his first five pro seasons.

Stafford said it has been tough watching playoff games on TV because of the way the Lions’ season ended. They had a 6-3 record and lost six of their last seven games to squander an opportunity to win the NFC and host a playoff game at Ford Field.

The Lions let games slip away by not making plays on both sides of the ball. That’s one reason they wound up with a 7-9 record. In the last six losses, they had the lead in the fourth quarter of every game. That’s an indication that the Lions haven’t found ways to win games.

"I think that’s something we’re looking to find," Stafford said. "Whether it was just one play or so, when you look back there’s a lot of evidence of that. At the same time, it consistently happened. At the end of the day, it’s a players game. We’ve got to make the plays. We didn’t do it.

"Any time you have a chance at any point in the season to get a chance to get into the playoffs, you want to have that opportunity," Stafford said. "We didn’t make enough plays at the end of the season to make it. I still think of that kind of stuff once in a while."

Stafford agrees with the consensus opinion of experts that the Lions have enough talent to win.

"I don’t think there’s a tear-down, build-up project," he said.