ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- He stood off to the side in the Detroit Lions' indoor practice facility Wednesday afternoon, slipping in late and becoming inconspicuous as his new boss, Matt Patricia, was formally introduced as the team’s new head coach.
Jim Bob Cooter was there, but if you didn’t spot him early, you might not have seen him at all. Cooter’s future with the Lions has been up for question ever since Detroit fired Jim Caldwell on Jan. 1, and on Wednesday, Patricia gave somewhat of a definitive answer.
Cooter isn’t going anywhere.
“Jim Bob is on staff and he’ll be here,” Patricia said. “Obviously he’s done a great job here and what he’s been able to accomplish and both him and [QB Matthew] Stafford and the offense. He’s someone that has worked with a lot of guys I have worked with in the past, someone everyone speaks very highly of and I have a lot of respect for because I’ve been on the other side of the ball going against him.
“Looking forward to working together and continuing that success and building on the things that have been done on that side of the ball.”
Lions general manager Bob Quinn confirmed to ESPN later Wednesday that Cooter is remaining as the team's offensive coordinator.
Lions president Rod Wood said Cooter wasn’t forced on any candidate. He and Quinn did ask candidates what they thought about those coaches on their staff. Quinn said Jan. 1 that the new coach -- now Patricia -- would have autonomy over his staff.
“We went through every interview process, we asked every coach about what kind of staff they would want to build,” Wood said. “In some cases, people had specific names. In other cases, they had ideas of the kind of people they’d want to go after.
“We also asked them about our coaching staff and they had opinions. Matt kind of addressed his research that he had done on our staff. No one forced him to consider anybody but we wanted to hear their views on our coaching staff, hear their views on our players and ultimately he made the decision that he made in terms of the coaching staff that he wanted to build that includes Jim Bob and a few of the other guys on the offensive side.”
That Cooter is sticking around is not surprising. While he interviewed for Detroit's head-coaching job, he didn’t interview anywhere else during this coaching cycle. And Stafford said Jan. 1 he would be pleased if Cooter remained with the Lions.
Cooter did a good job developing the quarterback and the two built a rapport, so continuity could be important. How much that rapport carries over -- and how much Cooter is able to fix the run-game and pass-protection woes his offense had the past two seasons -- will be key to Patricia's success in 2018.