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Lions defensive boss Teryl Austin remains head-coaching candidate

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- For the second straight season, Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is going through the head-coaching interview process.

He once again has been a popular candidate, interviewing for almost all of the jobs he selected. The question is whether he’ll end up landing one. Toward the end of the season, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell believed it was only a matter of time before Austin would land a gig.

“Absolutely. I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Caldwell said last month. “Talented guy, and I think you’ll see there will be a lot of interest in him.”

So far there has been, although he has not landed any of the jobs he has interviewed for.

Austin interviewed for the Miami Dolphins job, but they hired Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase. He interviewed with the Cleveland Browns, but they hired Hue Jackson on Wednesday. He also interviewed with the New York Giants, who appeared to be closing in on a deal with their offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo, on Wednesday night.

Austin was rumored to have interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles. Their job is still open, though it is not clear if that interview actually happened. ESPN Insider Josina Anderson reported Wednesday that Austin is scheduled to interview for the Tennessee Titans job -- currently held by interim coach Mike Mularkey -- on Friday.

He obviously still has his current job as Detroit's defensive coordinator, but Caldwell's future is in question, as new general manager Bob Quinn evaluates whether to keep the head coach.

The 50-year-old Austin became a potential head-coaching candidate during the 2014 season, his first as Detroit’s defensive coordinator. Austin took a middle-of-the-pack unit in 2013 and turned it into a top-five defense in 2014, including the league’s best unit against the rush.

His defensive numbers took a step back this season, in part due to the losses of Ndamukong Suh (free agency), Nick Fairley (free agency) and DeAndre Levy (injury). After the Lions struggled on defense in the first half of the season, Austin improved the defense in the second half by platooning players based on packages to fit their strengths.

Over the second half of the season, when the Lions went 6-2, he had a top-10 defense in rushing yards allowed, passing yards allowed and total yards allowed, showing the ability to self-scout and adjust.