After four seasons as the defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin interviewed with Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn for the head coaching opening. The team announced the interview on Tuesday. Jim Caldwell was fired on Monday.
It wasn’t the first head coaching interview in the past few years for Austin — he’s been a popular candidate across the league.
Austin, 52, was asked last week about his potential interviews for head coaching spots and if the performance this season hurt his chances.
“I don’t worry about that because I can’t control that. All I control is how, you know, do we win games? Do we give ourselves a chance to win games? Do we give ourselves a chance to get into the playoffs? And obviously we didn’t do that. And that’s really all I can control and that’s all I worry about,’’ Austin said.
He said he approaches head coaching interviews the same way.
“What I’ve done in the past is, when it came up, I just crammed and studied for it like a test. You know how that is in college, sometimes you do good, sometimes you don’t do so well,’’ Austin said.
Tuesday’s interview with Quinn should have been easy since Austin knows the team well.
Austin first came to Detroit when Caldwell was hired in January 2014.
He had his best year of leading the defense that year. The Lions’ defense was ranked second in the NFL, allowing just 300.9 yards per game. The Lions finished 11-5, all was good until they lost in the playoffs.
His strength is bending the defense to fit the talent available.
Austin and his staff have excelled at developing young talent like Darius Slay, Quandre Diggs, Anthony Zettel, Kerry Hyder, Jarrad Davis and others. Put Ziggy Ansah on that list too. The defensive end has just one year experience when Austin took over the defense.
In 2015 and 2016, the defense was ranked 15th based on yards allowed per game. The defense took a big step forward in 2017, finishing in sixth place for yards allowed (355.8 per game).
In Austin’s tenure, the secondary has evolved into the strength of the defense. Slay has improved each year, finishing with eight interceptions this season. Glover Quin should be going to the Pro Bowl with Slay for another excellent season.
In the past three years, the defensive line has not recovered from the loss of Ndamukong Suh who went to Miami after the 2014 season. Haloti Ngata was a good signing but his health has been an issue. He only played five games in 2017.
Injuries have decimated the defensive line which Austin would never use as an excuse. Still there just hasn’t been enough depth. Is that Austin’s fault?
Prior to his arrival in Detroit, Austin was the defensive backs coach with the Seahawks (2003-2006) and the Arizona Cardinals (2007-2009). He was defensive coordinator at Florida in 2010, then went to the Ravens (2011-2013) as secondary coach winning his first Super Bowl championship.
Austin worked with Caldwell when he was a graduate assistant at Penn State (1991-1992) and then moved with Caldwell to Wake Forest (1993-95) where Austin was the defensive backs coach. He was also a defensive assistant at Syracuse (1996-98) and Michigan (1999-2002).
He was a three-year starter at the University of Pittsburgh and spent one year in the CFL in Montreal.
Quinn has been around for the past two seasons. He knows Austin fairly well. Gut feeling says Quinn would not interview Austin unless he was a serious candidate.
Other interviews are expected this week.
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel will interview with Lions on Wednesday, according to MMQB’s Albert Breer.
Also Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will be interviewed on Thursday in Minnesota, per multiple reports.
The Lions are expected to interview Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia this week while New England has a bye.
The Lions will announce names of the candidates following each interview.