Should the Lions Hire Scott Linehan as Offensive Coordinator?

Scott RiegerAnalyst IJanuary 20, 2009

Okay, let me start this article off by getting the weird coincidence stuff out of the way.  I was born on Sept. 17, 1981 and my middle name is Thomas.  So, that’s Scott Thomas for those of you keeping track.


The guy I really would like the Lions to look at seriously for Offensive Coordinator is Scott Linehan, middle name Thomas, who was born on Sept. 17, 1963.  Okay, that is a bit creepy but not at all the reason I like him so much.


Let’s start off with the fact that the Lions are in need of an established coordinator that can masterfully handle that side of the ball without too much oversight needed by our first time Head Coach Jim Schwartz. Schwartz will have much more important things to worry about, namely fixing the worst defense in the NFL last season.


So far, they have flirted with Jeremy Bates and Brian Schottenheimer. Both are good candidates, but Bates took a position at USC and Schottenheimer looks to be staying with the Jets under Rex Ryan.


The possible candidates that are left seem to either be guys looking for head coaching jobs like Brian Billick and Jim Fassel or up and comers like Denver Broncos receivers coach Jedd Fisch.  The Lions actually interviewed Fisch for the position on Monday.


Scott Linehan has been mentioned as a candidate with other teams and recently had two interviews with the San Francisco 49ers, where he was offered the job, but declined to accept citing “personal issues” and bad timing.


Linehan was the Offensive Coordinator for the high-flying Minnesota Vikings from 2002-2004, a period in which his offenses ranked second, first and fourth in the NFL.  He moved on to the Dolphins for the 2005 season and that unit finished 14th after finishing 29th the previous year.


He didn’t experience as much success as a Head Coach of the St. Louis Rams from 2006-2008, compiling an 11-25 record and being fired a after a poor start to the 2008 season.  He also famously benched starting Quarterback Marc Bulger in his last game as head coach.


Despite the poor overall record in St. Louis, the offense did finish 6th overall in total offense in his first season and head coach.


The Lions were just plain bad last season and in fact, for the past many years. The last time they tasted some glory was when Barry Sanders was running the ball and Tom Moore, Indianapolis’ Offensive Coordinator, was calling the plays. The time of hiring the Greg Olson’s, Ted Tollner’s, Jim Colletto’s, etc. is over. The Lions need a proven coordinator and play-caller that can come in and utilize the strengths of our offense, which are young stars Kevin Smith and Calvin Johnson.


Calvin Johnson is widely considered the best and most talented young receiver in the NFL and has drawn comparisons to Randy Moss.  Take a guess who Moss’ offensive coordinator was in Minnesota: That’s right, Scott Linehan.


Furthermore, Linehan famously worked with a certain quarterback on our roster who made three Pro Bowls and was a two-time All-Pro selection.  That player is, of course, Daunte Culpepper.


Culpepper made two of his three Pro Bowls while under the instruction of Linehan.  Linehan also has intimated numerous times that Daunte Culpepper is one of the best players he had ever coached.  He also mentioned after Daunte Culpepper had surprisingly announced his retirement before last season (while still a coach of the Rams), that he’d love the opportunity to work with Culpepper again.


Well, the opportunity is there.  All the Lions have to do is answer the bell.


I would feel very comfortable going into next season with Linehan as the OC and Daunte at the QB controls.  Then all we really would need is to get some talented and capable lineman to protect him and our offense could really take off.


Fire away with your thoughts and comments.