Sources: Lions eye Ken Whisenhunt

Updated: January 6, 2014, 10:02 AM ET
By Adam Schefter | ESPN

The Detroit Lions' head coaching job is Ken Whisenhunt's to lose, sources close to the situation told ESPN.

Whisenhunt, the San Diego Chargers' offensive coordinator, and Lions general manager Martin Mayhew spent two seasons as teammates with the Washington Redskins in 1989 and 1990.

Those who worked with Whisenhunt in Arizona are convinced that the former Cardinals head coach is going to impress Lions ownership with his presentation.

Detroit already knows what Whisenhunt did to revive the careers of quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Philip Rivers.

The Lions would want Whisenhunt to have equally successful results with Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, who threw 11 interceptions over his last six games this season.

Detroit's coaching wish list also includes Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, sources told ESPN. The Chargers posted a 27-10 victory over the Bengals in the AFC wild-card round Sunday in Cincinnati.

The Lions cannot hire Whisenhunt until after the Chargers' season is over. San Diego will play the Denver Broncos next weekend in the divisional round.

[+] EnlargeSan Diego's Ken Whisenhunt
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesChargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is a top candidate for the Lions' head coaching vacancy.

Whisenhunt, 51, went 45-51 in six seasons with Arizona, coaching the Cardinals to the only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history following the 2008 season.

After being fired by the Cardinals after last season, Whisenhunt spent this season with the Chargers, who reached the playoffs thanks largely to Rivers' comeback season.

The 32-year-old Rivers struggled over the last two years but was outstanding this season, finishing among the top five in the NFL in passing yards, touchdowns and quarterback rating.

The Lions are seeking a replacement for Jim Schwartz, who was fired Monday following a late-season collapse during which Detroit lost six of its last seven games.

Schwartz went 7-9 this season and 29-51 overall in five years with the Lions.

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