What’s going on everyone?! I have a TL;DR if you deem the article too long, but the information that makes it different than most others is contained in the longer version. Enjoy the article, comment with some feedback or questions guys!
Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was once seen as the future of the organization.
After a winless 2008 season for Detroit, the only team to do so in the history of the National Football League, Schwartz was brought in to coach up the team new General Manager Martin Mayhew assembled.
The start of Schwartz’s tenure was a little slow; the Lions went 8-24 in Schwartz’s first two seasons.
After years of awful play, and a previous season that saw the team lose narrowly in each of its 10 losses, hope finally emerged for Detroit fans as the Lions went 10-6, earning a wildcard round playoff berth.
The Lions lost that game to the New Orleans Saints 45-28, but optimism maintained for Lions fans everywhere; Detroit was finally fielding a winning football team.
As the 2012 season opened, progressed and finished, Lions fans saw happiness become depression, excitement become anger and merrily drinking become binge drinking to forget the offensive display of play, both defensively and offensively, that season as Detroit finished 4-12, despite Calvin “Megatron” Johnson breaking the single-season receiving yard record, falling just short of his 2,000 yard goal.
Schwartz entered last off-season on the hot seat after losing control of his talent (seven arrests in the off-season/pre-season, in-season stompings and penalty problems) although it seemed unlikely he’d be fired if the team performed well in 2013.
The Lions, with a golden opportunity in 2013 to redeem themselves, fumbled their way out of the NFC North despite the starting quarterbacks for the Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers) and the Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler) suffering significant injuries that saw each miss 4+ games. The Lions faltered down the stretch of 2013, losing six of their final eight games after starting 5-3.
Schwartz was fired on the Monday following the end of the season, also known as Black Monday, putting the Lions into a search for their newly-vacant head coaching position. This is what brought YOU, the reader, to this story and I shall make you wait no more.
Ken Whisenhunt has been pumped up by the media as the perfect candidate to take over for Schwartz in Detroit. Offense, Kurt Warner, blah blah. Why is it actually imperative that the Detroit Lions bring in Ken Whisenhunt to take over for their vacant head coaching position?
In three seasons as the Pittsburgh Steelers OC, Whisenhunt helped coach the team to yardage and points scored rankings of 16th and 11th (’04), 15th and 9th (’05), and 7th and 12th (’06). Despite working with a then-rookie/2nd/3rd year player in Ben Roethlisberger (of whom was originally thought to be raw and unfit to play before injuries to Charlie Batch and Tommy Maddox), Whisenhunt led the Steelers offense to a solid season, ranking in the top-half of both major offensive statistics recognized by the NFL.
In 2007, Whisenhunt received a promotion in the form of a head coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals. He immediately helped the team produce, leading Arizona to an 8-8 record with thought-to-be washed up quarterback Kurt Warner. The offense ranked 7th in points scored and 12th in OYPG (offensive yards per game).
The following season was Whisenhunt’s mastermind season; it was the season he coached his team to the Superbowl against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The offense ranked 3rd and 4th in points scored and OYPG, although Whisenhunt’s team ultimately faltered in the big game versus Pittsburgh. Whisenhunt had one last season left with his star QB before Warner ultimately retired, leading the offense to a lesser (while still respectable) offense ranked 11th in points scored and 14th in OYPG. After Warner’s retirement, GM Rod Graves failed to acquire a legitimate QB for Whisenhunt, leading to an ultimate downfall and losing record of 5-11.
Whisenhunt then led another seemingly washed up quarterback in Phillip Rivers into a career year that saw him complete over 69% of his passes for over 4,400 yards, 35 TDs and the second-highest passer rating of his career. Whisenhunt was seen as the overseer of this revival for Rivers.
Now…imagine Whisenhunt working with a QB that’s thrown for over 100 TDs and over 17,000 yards in 61 games (just under four full seasons) as a starting NFL quarterback and a wide receiver that broke the single season receiving yardage record originally set by Jerry Rice.
Add in a dynamic backfield consisting of someone with something to prove to the whole league after going undrafted (Joique Bell) and the ex-Heisman trophy award winner that had everything taken from him after being told he wasn’t good enough to start in the NFL.
Mayhew has found plenty of talent in the NFL draft to load up his defensive front and with an offensive minded HC like Whisenhunt at the helm, the Lions could finally find their starting wideout opposite Megatron.
Whisenhunt is an amazing offensive coach that could get the best out of recently underachieving and seemingly regressing Matthew Stafford. He made Philip Rivers and Kurt Warner look like top-5 QBs, think of what he can do with a guy like Matthew Stafford. Oh, he also helped the Steelers win the Superbowl in ’05 with a second-year Ben Roethlisberger.
Yeah. That sounds awesome to me, too. If GM Martin Mayhew can pull in Whisenhunt to coach one of the most potent offenses in the NFL, the Lions could finally find their way to the promise land, sooner rather than later.