Jim Caldwell again backs Teryl Austin as potential head coach

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will once again start his cycle to try to become a head coach Tuesday, as he’s reportedly scheduled to interview with the San Diego Chargers and potentially with the Los Angeles Rams.

It’ll be his third time through the cycle after interviewing with multiple teams for vacancies over the past two years. For the most part, Austin wouldn’t talk about it during the season. He’s been through this before, and since the Lions were in the midst of a playoff run, he had other things to focus on.

While Austin came close to getting the Atlanta job in the 2015 offseason, he said he can’t worry about the past.

“There’s nothing I can do about whether I should have been or whether I could have been,” Austin said. “If it ever comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, I know I’ll do a good job wherever I am doing whatever I’m doing.”

Meanwhile, his current boss, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, again threw his public support behind his defensive coordinator. Austin receiving a chance to be a head coach has been one of the few topics Caldwell has been openly opinionated about whenever he’s asked.

On Monday, he once again pushed for Austin to get a job.

“I think obviously he deserves an opportunity,” Caldwell said. “When you look at his work, what he’s been able to do over the years, look at where he’s worked, who he’s worked for. He’s well prepared for the task. He’ll do a tremendous job and I don’t think there’s any question about that.

“I’m certainly hoping that he gets that opportunity.”

One of Austin’s biggest strengths has been being able to get the most out of whatever personnel he has. He often has deployed multiple packages when starters get injured to accentuate the strengths of the guys on his roster. Despite some late-season meltdowns against the run this year, his defenses typically get better as the season goes along.

He also has the personality to be a head coach who can be the face of a franchise. He is engaging with the media, upfront and accountable and can command a press conference well. He has players who believe in him and want to play for him.

He also has the experience of being at multiple stops in college and the NFL to have an idea of how different systems work.

Caldwell went in even more for Austin when he was asked if he plans on making any coaching changes. He said there would be changes on the Lions staff -- obviously -- if Austin were to land a head coaching job before again stumping for the man he’s worked with at multiple stops along the way.

“I think he’s deserving of that,” Caldwell said. “I’m hopeful and I know a lot of people will look at it and say, ‘Hey, well, should he get an opportunity when you look at his team, what they’ve done?’ Just take a look at the records of guys that have gotten head coaching jobs. Do your homework and take a look at the backgrounds and see what they’ve done in comparison to guys that are running teams to date, in terms of his background, what he’s been able to accomplish and things of that nature.

“I think you’ll see that he stacks up comparably to the group.”