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The Detroit Lions reportedly have a “very strong interest” in hiring Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt as the team’s next head coach, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Whisenhunt is currently preparing the San Diego offense for their first round playoff matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals but the Lions may get the opportunity to interview the 51-year-old coach next week even if the Bolts advance.
Whisenhunt helped quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Ryan Mathews turn their careers around this year as the Chargers finished fourth in passing offense and fifth in total offense and are going to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Lions could certainly use that sort of help with Matthew Stafford who threw 11 interceptions in the team’s final six games as they were bounced from playoff contention.
Prior to coming to San Diego, Whisenhunt was the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals where he led the team to the Superbowl in his second season and another playoff bid in his third. The Cards finished .500 or better in four of Whisenhunt’s six seasons with the team but won just five games in two of his final three seasons. Prior to that, he worked as the offensive coordinator for the Steelers, leading that offense to a Superbowl win over the Seahawks in 2005.
Whisenhunt appears to be the front-runner for the Lions job after the Bucs hired Lovie Smith and the Texans hired Bill O’Brien. Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell is on the Lions’ short list and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, and Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell could be options as well. All of these names have also been linked to the Redskins‘ coaching search.
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