Was Mike Shanahan Ignored by the Detroit Lions?

Keith SheltonAnalyst IJanuary 7, 2010

ASHBURN,VA - JANUARY 06:  Mike Shanahan speaks at a press conference introducing him as the new Executive Vice President and Head Coach of the Washington Redskins to the media on January 6, 2010 at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

What I saw when I rolled out of bed and flipped on SportsCenter: The Washington Redskins introduced their new coach this morning.

My next thought was to go back to bed. Obviously, this day was off to a bad start—and it wasn't even 8am yet.

Shanahan with the Lions is a situation that Lions fans can only dream about, which is what I tried to do upon going back to sleep. No luck.

See what this team does to people? For an entire decade, I have watched bad teams make the necessary moves to better themselves and then fly past the wretched Lions, while the Lions are busy playing in the mud.

That's exactly what happened here.

If Detroit was really serious about winning, about moving past the mantra and monikers and coaches whose names start with the letter M, they would have at the very least gauged Shanahan's interest through a back-channel.

Yes, the Lions have Jim Schwartz and, yes, Schwartz has only had one season and absolutely nothing to work with.

I don't care. That means nothing when a man like Mike Shanahan is on the open market.

If Shanahan expressed any interest in coaching Detroit at all, the obvious move, the only move to make, would be to fire Jim Schwartz immediately and hire Mike Shanahan.

Washington was in a different situation than Detroit. We knew after about week three of the season, that Jim Zorn was out as head coach effective at season's end.

Washington may have been searching for their new coach since around that time.

But did Detroit even ask? Did Detroit even show a hint of interest?

While we're on the subject, how about Charlie Weis? Not as a head coach, but as an offensive coordinator. With New England, Weis was the best in the business. Now he is expected to be named the new OC at Kansas City.

Did Detroit even look into the idea?

A bad team again capitalizes while Detroit twiddles their thumbs.

It goes back to when Martin Mayhew was hired, and owner William Clay Ford didn't even glance at Bill Parcells or Scott Pioli.

Playing in the mud. Detroit loves being the ugly duckling.

There is of course another prime candidate out there, and I'm referring, of course, to Bill Cowher.

Bill Cowher is an outstanding coach. He could also be an outstanding GM.

If Cowher were interested in Detroit, in any capacity, neither Mayhew nor Schwartz's jobs would be worth preserving.

Not if the Detroit Lions were really serious about building a winning model.

Think I'm nuts? Well, look at the 2002-2004 Detroit Red Wings as an example.

They had a coach named Dave Lewis. Lewis was a disciple of Scotty Bowman, the best coach the NHL has ever seen. In fact, Lewis served as an assistant coach to Bowman for nearly a decade. So he was the logical choice to replace the legend. Continuity is always valuable in an organization if the pieces fit.

Lewis was not unsuccessful. His teams had back-to-back 48-win seasons, and they won the division both years seemingly with ease.

However, come playoff time, Lewis's teams were knocked out in the first and second round. 

During the NHL lockout, Mike Babcock of the Anaheim Ducks was inexplicably fired by Ducks GM, Brian Burke. This was the same Mike Babcock whose eighth seeded Ducks upset Dave Lewis's first seeded Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs.

Babcock took that eighth seeded Ducks team to the Stanley Cup finals, where they lost in the seventh game.

The next season, the Ducks missed the playoffs and Babcock was fired.

Detroit had a coach who could win the regular season like nobody's business, and they fired him.

Dave Lewis, a Scotty Bowman assistant and winning head coach, was let go so the Red Wings could hire Mike Babcock.

It turned out to be an outstanding move, and the rest is history.

So now, I ask. Is Jim Schwartz expendable? Is Martin Mayhew expendable?

For Mike Shanahan, yes. For Bill Cowher? Without a shadow of a doubt.

Will Detroit even look into the idea?

Don't hold your breath.


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