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Steve Sarkisian, Nathaniel Hackett 'In Mix' For Lions Offensive Coordinator Job: Report

Matt Patricia is in charge of the hire.

January 10, 2019 - 3:48 pm
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With head coaching vacancies being filled across the NFL, the clock is starting to tick on the search for assistants. The Lions' pursuit of an offensive coordinator seems to be starting with two names: Steve Sarkisian and Nathaniel Hackett. 

The team parted ways with former OC Jim Bob Cooter when the 2018 season ended. 

Sarkisian spent the last two seasons as offensive coordinator of the Falcons. Atlanta was a top-10 offense in terms of both yards per game and points per game in 2018, but Sarkisian was fired after the Falcons went 7-9 and missed the playoffs. Matt Ryan regressed in his first season under Sarkisian, but rebounded in 2018 as the Falcons' passing attack ranked fourth in the NFL. 

Sarkisian, of course, comes with something of a checkered past. He was fired as head coach at USC in 2015 amid a battle with alcohol abuse for which he wound up in rehab. He returned to coaching in 2016 as an offensive assistant at Alabama. 

Hackett has been mentioned frequently as a potential replacement for Cooter. He was named offensive coordinator of the Jaguars in 2016 and a year later oversaw the No. 6-ranked offense in the NFL, despite working with Blake Bortles at quarterback. Jacksonville led the league in rushing that season. 

But the Jags' offense took a big step back this season, partly due to the lengthy absence of Leonard Fournette, and Hackett was fired midway through the year. 

For the Lions, the appeal of Hackett would appear to be two fold. He tends to run a play action-based offense with an emphasis on the deep ball, one that would suit Matthew Stafford. And he coached at Syracuse from 2010-2012, a connection he shares with Matt Patricia. Remember, Patricia hired Paul Pasqualoni as his defensive coordinator due largely to their time together at Syracuse. 

Lions GM Bob Quinn made it clear last week that Patricia is in charge of naming the team's next OC. 

Asked if Matthew Stafford, whose endorsement of Cooter after last season helped Cooter retain his job, will be involved in the search, Quinn said, "I don’t think so. Matt’s going to hire this guy. Matthew Stafford is very opinionated on a lot of things in terms of players, coaches. Maybe Matt will reach out to him and ask him, ‘Hey, call your friend at this team and ask about him (this guy).’ I’m not sure, we haven’t gone that far yet.”