Austin will be the fourth candidate to interview, following Broncos OC Adam Gase, Seahawks DC Dan Quinn and Cardinals DC Todd Bowles. With Denver's loss to the Colts in yesterday's AFC Divisional playoffs, Gase is now free to conduct further interviews. It's being reported the Jets and Falcons plan on bringing Bowles back for second interviews.
Austin's first gig in the NFL came in 2003 as defensive backs coach for the Seahawks. He held the same position for the Cardinals from 2007-2009 before he was hired as defensive coordinator for the University of Florida. From 2011-2013 he was the secondary coach for the Ravens and took over as Detroit's defensive coordinator last year.
In his only year as a DC, Austin's defense finished 2nd overall (300.9 yards per game), 1st against the run (69.3), 3rd in points allowed (17.6) and 13th against the pass (231.6). The Lions finished 8th best in sacks (42) and takeaways (27), and had the 3rd most interceptions (20). Detroit also allowed the fewest yards per carry (3.2) in the NFL.
Austin will be new general manager Ryan Pace's second interview, after Bowles last week, just hours after he accepted the GM position. Pace said he'll consult with team president Ted Phillips, chairman George McCaskey and team consultant Ernie Accorsi but, ultimately, it will be his decision.
"It is a group effort and I’m going to lean heavily on George and Ted and Ernie Accorsi, who I admire tremendously," Pace said. "But yes, I do have final say."
Pace emphasized his desire to find the best man for the job regardless of experience, which fits the profile of Austin, a coach who has spent just one season as an NFL coordinator.
"For me, it’s not, is he college? Is he offense? Is he defense? It’s the best man for the job," said Pace. "That’s the process we’re going through right now. Thorough interviews on these candidates is critical. And there’s urgency. No question there’s urgency. But the most important thing is that we get this right."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.