The Detroit Lions have a choice to make at head coach in the coming days after finding their next general manager in Brad Holmes on Thursday. Now, a name Holmes is familiar with could soon come into the picture.
Thus far in the process, the Lions have not interviewed Brandon Staley, defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. Staley has seen some play in other places — including the New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers and Houston Texans — but considering the influence of his former Rams colleague, he could soon potentially join the list of interviewees in Detroit, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
Brandon Staley, who has met w/Jets and Chargers (and possibly Lions to come) would bring a very strong staff of rising coaches, I'm told, including Texans DC Anthony Weaver, Colts DB coach Jonathan Gannon (great work with that secondary) and Bears DL coach Jay Rodgers (former QB)
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 14, 2021
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Detroit’s interview process has been fairly specific in scope early on, and the team has only met with a handful of candidates for its lead coaching role. Next up, the Lions will have a second interview with Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith on Friday, which could indicate he’s a top candidate and a finalist for the job.
While Staley wouldn’t be able to interview again until Los Angeles is eliminated from the postseason, his potential addition to Detroit’s search could be a big shakeup for the coaching carousel if it happens.
The Staley-Detroit connection was also mentioned on Thursday by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, who hinted Staley’s name may have come up during Holmes’ interview on Wednesday. Naturally, it will be worth staying tuned to see how this part of the process plays out.
Staley’s Meteoric Rise to Coaching Stardom
Staley, the 38-year-old architect behind the Rams’ top-ranked defense in 2020, has wasted little time rising up through the coaching world since landing his first graduate assistant gig at Northern Illinois in 2006.
After additional stops at St. Thomas College, Hutchinson Community College, Tennessee, James Madison and John Carroll over the ensuing decade, the Dayton and Mercyhurst University alum made his jump to the NFL in 2017-18 as the Chicago Bears’ outside linebackers coach. Staley then followed Vic Fangio to Denver in 2019 before taking over the Rams defense in 2020.
This season, Los Angeles’ resurgent defense, anchored by All-Pros Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, allowed the fewest total yards (281.9) and points per game (18.5) while holding five opponents to 10 points or fewer.
Robert Saleh Eliminated From Lions’ Coaching Search
Detroit’s search has featured an interesting blend of candidates early on with Smith, Lewis, Campbell, Eric Bieniemy and Robert Saleh. Out of the bunch, Lewis and Campbell are the only two with previous head coaching experience from their stints in Cincinnati and Miami, respectively.
Todd Bowles, who coached the New York Jets from 2015-18, will also reportedly speak to the Lions on Friday and could add some more experience into the mix. Detroit could also be interested in meeting with a big-name college coach such as Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, though that seems like a long-shot at this point in time.
In spite of conflicting reports on how well he interviewed with the team, Saleh has been seen as a potential leader in the clubhouse for the Lions. However, the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator was officially named the next head coach of the Jets, taking him off the list of options in the Motor City.
If the team does add Staley to the mix in the coming days, it will be them doing more diligence on the coaching front.