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Teams can’t put in their requests to interview Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt until next week, and several plan to do so, Detroit among them, according to league sources. The Lions have already done abundant background work on Whisenhunt, and he is viewed as a very strong candidate within the organization. The Lions are prizing previous head coaching experience in this search, and Whisenhunt went to the Super Bowl in Arizona. Detroit interviewed former Colts coach Jim Caldwell last week, who also went to a Super Bowl.
All things being equal, the Lions are interested in offensive-minded coaches, with getting quarterback Matt Stafford sorted out a primary concern there, and, according to sources close to Whisenhunt, he views the Lions opening as being the best opportunity available and a place where a new coach could win immediately. Whisenhunt is polished in terms of interviewing and, barring the process moving smoothly next week, it may not take very long for this to become a match. Detroit has other candidates on its list, but some believe Whisenhunt is best positioned for this job.
Whisenhunt thinks highly of several defensive coaches around the league who would be possibilities to join him as defensive coordinator, sources said, including Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin, Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler (the defensive coordinator in waiting in Pittsburgh) and former USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, who worked with him in Arizona. Whisenhunt’s former offensive line coach, Hall of Fame guard Russ Grimm, is available having not coached this season, and putting together an experienced staff does not appear to be a problem.
If Whisenhunt departs, as expected, the Chargers are very high on quarterbacks coach Frank Reich, who played a big role in their offense and the resurgence of quarterback Philip Rivers, and he is viewed as the replacement for Whisenhunt next season if need be on Mike McCoy’s staff, sources said.