It’s one of the craziest bits of trivia in the NFL: Over the past 60 years, no Detroit Lions head coach has ever gotten another NFL head-coaching job after being fired by the Lions.
The Lions have killed plenty of coaching careers, and Jim Bob Cooter is the latest to have to move beyond what happened in Detroit. Cooter, once a hot candidate within NFL circles as Lions offensive coordinator, parted ways with the franchise after a disappointing season and is going to have to work his way back up the ladder. He was hired as the New York Jets running backs coach, a move announced on Friday.
Cooter wouldn’t be the first coordinator to take a step back before moving right back up. His style didn’t seem to mesh with first-year Lions coach Matt Patricia last season. Quarterback Matthew Stafford turned into a game manager with plenty of checkdowns. Injuries and the midseason trade of Golden Tate didn’t help. But now Cooter is in a different role with the Jets.
Jim Bob Cooter was a rising star
There was a time when it seemed like Cooter was a no-doubt head-coaching candidate.
“You knew Jim Bob was going to be great and the sky was the limit for him as a coach,” former Lions offensive coordinator Tom Moore told the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers in 2016. “He’s going to head coach in this league one of these days.”
The headline of that story was: “Lions’ Jim Bob Cooter a star on the rise.” Another story in 2016, by the Detroit Free Press, was titled “Jim Bob Cooter for president? Jim Bob Cooter for president!” due to a Lions fan painting that on his van.
Cooter was a big deal for a little while, and fun to talk about due to his unusual name. But rarely does anything go well for the Lions, who have won one playoff game since 1957.
Cooter will try to work his way back up
Cooter was lauded for his work early on with Stafford, reigning him in a bit from a wild risk-taker to a more efficient quarterback. But his offenses never really broke out and Stafford’s step back in 2018 — not all Cooter’s fault or even Stafford’s — was it for Cooter in Detroit.
Cooter is just 34 years old, has plenty of connections around the NFL and experience as a coordinator. If new Jets coach Adam Gase turns that team around, Cooter can ride that wave right back to an offensive coordinator job, then maybe more. And, based on history, being away from the Lions can’t hurt either.
More Jets news from Yahoo
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Things to know about the new football league
• Super Bowl MVP shaves his beard on ‘Ellen’ for charity
• NBA star’s pizza commercial useless after trade
• Vonn suffers freak injury before training run
– – – – – – –