The Detroit Lions will not look to re-sign offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.
The Detroit Lions did not fire their offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Cooter’s contract ended, and according to Albert Breer, the team will not be signing him to a new one. The life of a football coach is one of always looking for the next gig. Cooter will likely not have too long to look for another opportunity in the league.
Cooter took over the Lions offseason midway through the 2015 season. In the second half of the year, he breathed life into a disheartened and ineffective group. Matthew Stafford, in particular, thrived under the tweaks Cooter made to the offense. At the end of the year, new GM Quinn decided to keep the coaching staff on, and Head coach Jim Caldwell decided to give Cooter the full-time offensive coordinator role. When Current head coach Matt Patricia was hired two years later, he decided to keep Cooter on staff as well. This is a well-regarded coach in league circles, if not the Lions fanbase.
The Detroit Lions Offense under Cooter
In Cooter’s three seasons as the Lions OC, there have been positives and negatives. Matthew Stafford played some of the best football of his career under Cooter, but only in the last two minutes of a half. Cooter’s philosophy of taking what the defense allows rather than cracking the defense open was eventually solved by opponents. They began to allow easy but safe completions on underneath routes and bubble screens, baiting the Lions into a dink an dunk offense that simply could not move the ball effectively against any respectable defense.
In the run game, Cooter showed a lack of ability to put players in the position to do what they do well. Outside runs and draws to bigger backs, and power runs up the middle with smaller backs were the staple of the Lions running attack under Cooter. Inexplicably resting the hot hand for quarters or halves at a time was another staple of the Jim Bob Cooter era.
Cooter was not given much of an opportunity to be successful in 2018. Quinn traded Golden Tate before the deadline. Tate was the team’s leader in reception in each of Cooter’s seasons as OC. The player that made the dink and dunk offense work when it did was gone. Tate led the league in YAC over his time with the Lions. Shortly thereafter Marvin Jones and Kerryon Johnson, the team’s active leaders in receiving and rushing yards respectively at the time, went on IR.
Matthew Stafford also began to sustain injuries in week one, and they just kept coming all season. Late in the year, there was serious talk of the Lions quarterback sitting out games. His play was ineffective, but the team had no other option. At that point, the Lions were completely incapable of moving the ball.
Jim Bob Cooter will resurface in the league. He will probably have a job in a few weeks. Eight new head coaches (so far) will be looking to put their staffs together. The Lions have added a ninth team to the list of those seeking a qualified candidate for the position.