Lions May Look At Other Options

With Pittsburgh's win over Indianapolis, the Detroit Lions were again delayed an opportunity to openly pursue Steelers' OL coach Russ Grimm. According to Lions' insider Mike Fowler, other coaching candidates have stepped to the forefront, including former Saints' coach Jim Haslett (above).

ALLEN PARK - Matt Millen might have been as disappointed as Tony Dungy when kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed wide right in the waning seconds of the AFC Playoff game on Sunday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers upset of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday delayed what now appears to be the inevitable announcement of Russ Grimm as the next head coach of the Detroit Lions.

Grimm, the assistant head coach/offensive line coach of the Steelers has clearly emerged as the number one candidate for the job and while the Lions are pleased with the success of Grimm's team, including the offensive line unit that he coaches, it's preventing them from contacting him and offering him the job. NFL rules prevent any further contact until Grimm's team is out of the playoffs or wins the Super Bowl.

In the interim, Detroit is continuing the process, conducting a second interview today with Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. Marinelli's contract with the Bucs expires at the end of this month, and since he is being interviewed for a head coaching job, Tampa cannot rightfully keep him from contacting Detroit.

It is a foregone conclusion in Tampa that Marinelli will not be returning. Tampa did not allow him to interview for the coordinator position with other teams previously, including with the Chicago Bears, who eventually hired Ron Rivera instead.

It is unknown if Marinelli would accept a coordinator position if Grimm does get the head coaching position. Detroit also has to be prepared for the possibility that Grimm might not accept the position or if the two sides couldn't come to an agreement on terms. If that's the case, they need to be prepared with an alternative. That could be Marinelli or former Saints head coach Jim Haslett.

Detroit is expected to interview Haslett a second time this week, perhaps as soon as Wednesday.

Haslett has become a leading candidate for the vacant Buffalo Bills job while Marinelli has been interviewed for the open Oakland Raiders head coaching job.

Another factor is while the Lions wait, top candidates for coordinator positions are being contacted by teams who already have filled head coaching positions. One leading candidate was recently fired Oakland Raiders head coach Norv Turner, who will become the San Francisco 49ers' offensive coordinator. Turner has a relationship with Millen, but due to geographic proximity, the 49ers' offer was too good to refuse.

If Marinelli isn't offered the head coaching job, he still might be open to taking a defensive coordinator position with Detroit with an assistant head coach title attached.

If not, former Packers defensive coordinator Jim Bates might be a top candidate. Bates wisely extracated himself from the messy situation in Green Bay where Mike McCarthy, offensive coordinator of the 32nd ranked offense in San Francisco, was named head coach of the Packers.


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