Rivera a candidate
Add Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera to the list of candidates the Lions want to speak with about their head-coaching vacancy.
The Lions asked permission to speak with Rivera last week, but Rivera has decided to forgo all interviews until the Chargers' season is over. San Diego plays Pittsburgh in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs Sunday.
The Chargers released a statement Monday saying Rivera has declined overtures from several NFL teams and is not interested in talking until after the season. Assistants on playoff teams who won last week are eligible to be interviewed in their home city this week.
My sole focus and concentration right now is helping the Chargers win a championship. Nothing else matters, Rivera said in the statement. I don't want to let anything distract from our objective.
Rivera's reluctance to interview may stem from the heat he took during his dalliance with nine head-coaching jobs over two years when he was defensive coordinator with the Bears. After his contract expired following Chicago's Super Bowl XLI loss to Indianapolis, Rivera joined the Chargers as linebackers coach.
He was promoted to defensive coordinator when Ted Cottrell was fired midway through this season, and successfully scaled back a defense missing its best player, outside linebacker Shawne Merriman. The Chargers closed the year with a four-game winning streak and beat the Broncos in the regular-season finale to win the AFC West title.
From the Lions' standpoint, Rivera is attractive for both his success and his bloodlines. He won a Super Bowl as a player with the Bears and has worked in a variety of defenses, from Cottrell's 3-4, to Lovie Smith's Tampa 2, to Jim Johnson's blitz-heavy scheme in Philadelphia.
Also Tuesday, the Lions set a Friday meeting to interview Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.