Lions president Tom Lewand said on Monday the search has begun for what he thinks is one of the most -- if not the most -- attractive opportunities for a head coach in the NFL.
"I can verify that by the number of calls we have already gotten since the announcement was made,'' Lewand said. "Going through a thorough process is extremely important. That doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a long process.''
San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is also among the potential candidates. Whisenhunt led the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl during a six-year run as their coach, and Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is a former Washington Redskins teammate.
The Lions fired coach Jim Schwartz on Monday, one day after they ended their late-season slide with a loss at Minnesota.
Detroit flopped to 7-9 this year after a 6-3 start put the franchise in a position to win a division title for the first time since 1993.
The Lions also fired offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and receivers coach Tim Lappano. The rest of the assistants, including defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, remain under contract for the time being.
ESPN.com Lions reporter Michael Rothstein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.