Bush and Burleson weigh in on Lions’ coaching search
Ken Whisenhunt, believed to be the frontrunner for the Detroit Lions’ coaching job, spent at least the first part of Monday in San Diego, finishing up his work for the season as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator.
Chargers coach Mike McCoy confirmed during a news conference that Whisenhunt flew back with the team following Sunday’s playoff loss at Denver and was conducting the familiar season-ending "exit interviews" with players Monday morning.
"Says a lot about him," McCoy told reporters.
Much was made about Whisenhunt interviewing last week with the Lions (Thursday), Tennessee Titans (Friday) and Cleveland Browns (Saturday) before Sunday’s game.
"He prepared like he did in any other game," McCoy said. "I owe him a lot. We’ll see what happens.
"I don’t want to lose him," McCoy added, "but I understand the profession."
The Detroit News reported that the Lions were planning to send a private jet to San Diego to pick up Whisenhunt and bring him to Detroit for another interview to take place Tuesday.
Whisenhunt has been widely speculated as the Lions’ top candidate, but there also have been reports that the Titans could factor heavily into his decision.
Once he finishes up his business with the Chargers, Whisenhunt will decide his next move, if he hasn’t already.
It still appears that’s probably going to be the Lions, who are looking to replace Jim Schwartz after firing him two weeks ago.
While he could interview last week, it wasn’t until after the Chargers got eliminated that Whisenhunt officially became available for hire, per NFL rules.
Whisenhunt, 52, took the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl in his second season as coach but then got fired four years later.
Two Lions players recently appeared on national television shows to discuss the coaching search and what the team needs right now.
Running back Reggie Bush discussed the issue on FOX’s pre-game show over the weekend.
"I think the next coach needs to improve the culture of our team," Bush said. "Our level of expectation needs to improve and our preparation can improve as well."
Asked what happened in the second half of the season when the Lions collapsed after a 6-3 start to finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs, Bush said, "I begin with myself. I had too many fumbles (five).
"We had too many turnovers, constantly putting our defense in a bad position. You can’t win like that."
Receiver Nate Burleson, meanwhile, was a guest on the NFL Network and outlined some key points that he thinks are needed in the new coach.
"Someone with some experience, some wisdom," Burleson said. "Someone that can demand respect."
Burleson said he didn’t head-coaching experience was necessarily required to do that, "but just that you have years, that you have a clear understanding about the game of football."
Burleson pointed to some of the Lions’ top players such as receiver Calvin Johnson, quarterback Matthew Stafford, Bush and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
"These guys are elite in their talent level but they still want to learn," Burleson said. "They still have that yearning for it (to be coached at a high level)."
Besides Whisenhunt, the Lions have also interviewed Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak and former Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak.