Jim Bob Cooter's Contract Not Renewed by Lions, Won't Return as OC

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2019

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02: Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter of the Detroit Lions watches his team against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half at Ford Field on December 2, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions "elected to not renew" the contract of offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, the team announced Tuesday.

According to the MMQB's Albert Breer and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Cooter and the Lions mutually agreed to go in different directions, and he's already receiving interest from other NFL teams.

Tuesday's announcement isn't unexpected. The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett speculated on Dec. 5 the odds of Cooter returning for 2019 were very low. He also described Cooter as "the natural fall guy" as the Lions were on their way to a 6-10 season.

Lions Wire's Jeff Risdon thought Cooter's departure was more than justified: 

Cooter was Detroit's offensive coordinator for four seasons. During that time, the Lions never finished higher than 13th in total yards or seventh in total points, according to Pro Football Reference. They also ranked 13th, 15th, 12th and 23rd in offensive efficiency during Cooter's tenure.

Jennifer Hammond of Fox 2 Detroit reported Lions quarterbacks coach George Godsey could be a candidate to replace Cooter. Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith argued that would be a lateral move:

Hiring the right assistant could be pivotal for Matt Patricia's long-term future in Detroit. While Patricia's job isn't in jeopardy after one year as the head coach, The Athletic's Chris Burke posited Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn might only have two more seasons to make some progress before the hammer could come down.

The Lions are unlikely to contend for an NFC North title unless Matthew Stafford improves. He finished 2018 with 3,777 yards—his fewest over a full season—21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. If Cooter's successor is unable to get Stafford back to a level where he's a potential Pro Bowler, then it will have a domino effect on the rest of the offense.

Cooter was a holdover from the Jim Caldwell era, so Patricia can reasonably claim things will be better once he gets an offensive coordinator who shares his approach. But he won't have anybody else to blame if his hand-picked choice doesn't deliver results.

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