ALLEN PARK - With all the i's dotted and t's crossed, the Detroit Lions will finish up the initial interview process this weekend and then bring in finalists for a second interview.
The finalists are likely to include former Saints head coach Jim Haslett and Steelers assistant head coach Russ Grimm. It is not inconceivable that either Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon and Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders could be selected as possible finalists, but it has become more and more clearer that the job is Grimm's to lose.
ESPN.com's Michael Smith reported that Grimm will be offered the job in his second interview when Pittsburgh is officially elimated from the playoffs or wins the Super Bowl. Whether or not Smith has inside sources, the report makes sense.
Grimm is well respected around the league as a no-nonsense taske master who will demand nothing short of professionalism and attention to detail. Several Pittsburgh Steelers players have spoken glowingly of Grimm and despite reports to the contrary, knowledgEable observers do not believe Grimm would be out of place as a head coach.
Sources say that Grimm will move quickly to hire former Raiders head coach Norv Turner to be his offensive coordinator. Turner has been very successful in stints in Miami, Washington and Dallas as an offensive coordinator and has a few Super Bowl rings during his tenure on Jimmy Johnson's staff.
Speculation also is that Rod Marinelli, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line coach (whose contract expires at the end of the month) will be named defensive coordinator. Marinelli has been denied opportunities by the Buccaneers to interview for coordinator jobs in the past and did not sign contract extension offers. He is said to want out of Tampa Bay to get an opportunity at a head coaching job like many of his peers, but his path to a coordinator's position is blocked by Monte Kiffin.
If the sources are correct, it would give Grimm - a first time head coach - a rock-solid, reliable staff that has proven it can get results. In addition, Grimm, a former All Pro offensive lineman and a member of the 2006 NFL Hall of Fame class is regarded as an excellent tactician in the trenches. He would likely be able to quickly size up the potential of Detroit offensive front and make the necessary changes to build a solid unit.
If Grimm somehow bombs in the interview process, former Saints' head coach Jim Haslett could get another look and San Francisco 49ers assistant Mike Singletary reportedly had the best interview of the bunch, but at this point, Grimm appears to be head and shoulders above the pack.
San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy and New England Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini are among the most surprising of candidates to emerge as head coaches.
McCarthy's 49ers offense was among the worst in the NFL but he reportedly has been offered the head coaching job in Green Bay. Mangini, just 35 years old and with only one season as a defensive coordinator under his belt is said to be the lead candidate in the white hot glare of the New York Jets.