Thursday January 1st, 2015

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell believes that defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is "deserving" of a head coach job due to his work transforming and improving the Lions' defense over the last season, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

Austin, 49, has only worked as a NFL coordinator for one year, but in his season with the Lions the team leads the NFL in rush defense, is second in points allowed (17.6 per game), and second in yards allowed (300.9 per game).

Detroit's playoff berth this season is the team's first since 2011 and only the second playoff appearance for the Lions in the last 15 years.

"For all of us, for him, I think and his family, I think he's deserving of it, and I think he's going to get one," Caldwell said. "I think if, once they get an opportunity to see him and listen to him and watch what he's been able to do, I think it'll happen for him and I think it'll be absolutely outstanding."

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Prior to joining the Lions, Austin coached in Super Bowls as a defensive backs coach with the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens, with whom he won a championship. He also worked as defensive coordinator for Urban Meyer at Florida for one year.

Caldwell and his staff are preparing for the team's Jan. 4 Wild Card playoff game in Dallas against the Cowboys, but Caldwell has said that he has been prepping his assistant for the interview process and the duties of the position.

The San Francisco 49ers, who let Jim Harbaugh leave for Michigan, and the Atlanta Falcons, who fired Mike Smith, have requested permission to speak with Austin.

Four more head coaching jobs are available, but under current rules Austin cannot interview until next week.

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Caldwell's enthusiasm for his assistant's future is tempered by Caldwell's own experiences with the NFL's hiring process, however.

"I hope he does (get a job)," Caldwell said. "I mean, I don't know (if he will). I interviewed about six or seven times before I actually got one, so I don't know. I'm not sure, but he's deserving of it."

Detroit (11-5) plays Dallas (12-4) at 4:40 pm EST on Jan. 4. The winner advances to face the Seahawks on Jan. 10.

- Christopher Woody


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