The Detroit Lions have officially hit the reset button, announcing on Saturday that the organization has fired head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn. While the seismic shift that the organization is about to go through is poised to be foundation-shaking, the news that Patricia and Quinn have been let go isn't totally surprising. The duo was on thin ice heading into the 2020 season and after a 4-7 record that most recently featured a 41-25 loss at the hands of the Texans on Thanksgiving, ownership was left with no other choice other than to cut bait.
So, now what? Well, the Lions will reportedly hand the keys to the organization over to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who'll serve as the interim head coach the rest of the season. Of course, if Bevell leads some miraculous turnaround for Detroit, he'll naturally get a closer look from ownership as the long-term option. In the event that they look outside of the organization this offseason, however, here are some of the notable names that the Lions should have on their wish list.
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs OC
You've likely heard it before, but it's worth repeating: Eric Bieniemy should already be a head coach somewhere in the NFL. Kansas City's offensive coordinator has Patrick Mahomes and company looking like they are playing Madden at times and the franchise looks poised to seriously defend their Super Bowl LIV title they won a year ago. Allowing Bieniemy to work with offensive talent like Matthew Stafford, running back D'Andre Swift and others would be fascinating. He's likely going to be a number of teams' top option so Detroit will need to make a compelling pitch to sell Bieniemy on helping the Lions turn things around.
For more on the Lions' firing of Matt Patricia, check out the reaction episode of the Pick Six Podcast with Will Brinson below.
Brian Daboll, Bills OC
You know how Josh Allen has flipped a switch this season? Well, you can partially thank Brian Daboll for that. The Bills boast one of the better coaching staffs in the entire NFL under Sean McDermott and Daboll is arguably the best of the bunch. He was named the OC in Buffalo back in 2018 and has turned this unit into a group that is currently in first place in the AFC East and is scoring 27.2 points per game. He also has a history of scheming up some tremendous plays.
Daboll also has a strong pedigree, winning five Super Bowls as a member of the New England Patriots organization and a national championship as the OC at Alabama under Nick Saban. While Detroit may not want to pick another head coach off of the Bill Belichick tree, Daboll would be a strong hire.
Joe Brady, Panthers OC
This would be a meteoric rise for Joe Brady if he were hired as a head coach after one year as the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, but we are in the age of young head coaches so I guess it's possible. Brady lit college football on fire as the passing coordinator and receivers coach at LSU with Joe Burow as his QB and has been flashing his potential as a head coach with the Panthers. While he may be a bit too green, Brady will absolutely be mentioned for a number of vacancies as they unfold over the years. It's just a matter of time before some team scoops him up to lead their club. For the Lions, maybe they'd want to be too early on a coaching prospect like the 31-year old Brady rather than too late.
Arthur Smith, Titans OC
Arthur Smith's work with Ryan Tannehill, developing the Titans quarterback into one of the better signal-callers in the NFL is what is going to get him a lot of looks as a possible head coach somewhere. Since being named the starter in Week 7 of last season, Tannehill has completed over 67% of his passes in the regular season, is averaging nearly 250 yards passing per game, has 44 touchdowns to just nine interceptions, and has a passer rating of 112.7. Tannehill has also added 288 yards and five touchdowns on the ground over that stretch. Whether or not Matthew Stafford is going to stick around for the rebuild or the Lions decide to bring in another young quarterback to really begin a new era, Smith has shown he can mold a QB and bring him along in the NFL.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan HC
Feels like this is too obvious, right? Harbaugh's time in Michigan appears to be on its last leg, which could open the door for a potential return to the NFL where he has a 49-22-1 regular-season record as a head coach and a 5-3 postseason record. Harbaugh also has a history of turning a team around on his résumé too, which could be attractive to Lions ownership. Prior to landing in San Francisco in 2011, the 49ers were a .500 or below squad for eight years. Upon arrival, Harbaugh immediately had them at 13-3 and in the NFC Championship. The following year they were in the Super Bowl. His links to the state are obvious and he could make a compelling pitch that he could turn things around quickly in Detroit.