- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Detroit Lions have requested permission to talk with San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
Whisenhunt has long thought to be one of the favorites -- if not the favorite -- for the head coaching position vacated when Detroit fired Jim Schwartz last Monday. ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the Lions job is Whisenhunt’s to lose.
Time will tell how much Whisenhunt is interested in the job. Still coaching with the Chargers, it would be highly unlikely he would be able to go on four interviews while prepping for Denver in the divisional round Sunday.
But as long as Whisenhunt agrees to interview with Detroit -- and there is little reason to think he won’t -- he’ll be in good position with the Lions. He has a long relationship with general manager Martin Mayhew dating back to playing together for two seasons with the Washington Redskins.
He also fits everything the Lions are looking for in a head coach, from prior head coaching experience to his ability to refine quarterbacks with some experience, as he has done in Arizona with Kurt Warner and San Diego with Philip Rivers. He also worked with Ben Roethlisberger when he was a younger quarterback, helping to develop him.
The only question about Whisenhunt is how he does with non-elite quarterbacks. With guys ranging from Derek Anderson to Kevin Kolb to John Skelton, Whisenhunt went 18-30 over his final three seasons in Arizona, eventually being fired after the 2012 season.
Then he landed in San Diego with Rivers and has helped the Chargers to the divisional round of the playoffs, the same reason why the Lions can interview, but not hire, the man believed to be their top choice.
Whisenhunt is the third coach to have his name surface in the Lions' search, joining Baltimore offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. Caldwell interviewed with the team Friday and the Lions requested permission to talk with Gruden on Monday, but it is not known whether or not he will definitely interview.