The Lions not landing hometown favorite Robert Saleh is classic Lions

Saleh takes job with Jets

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 11: Jaquiski Tartt #29, K'Waun Williams #24 and Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh of the San Francisco 49ers stand on the sideline during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Levi's Stadium on January 11, 2020 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Vikings 27-10. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) (Michael Zagaris, 2020 Michael Zagaris)

DETROIT – One of the top head coaching prospects in the NFL market this offseason was Robert Saleh, the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers -- and a Dearborn native.

Saleh was the favorite to become the next head coach of the Detroit Lions. All of the stars were aligned for this to happen. The Lions need a head coach. Saleh grew up a Lions fan. Saleh was ready to become a head coach. The Lions interviewed him.

And then he accepted the head coaching job with the New York Jets. Wait, what?

As far as we know, Saleh never received a second interview from the Lions. Or an offer of any kind. But Detroit did hire a general manager on Thursday, Brad Holmes, the former director of college scouting for the LA Rams. Cool.

We don’t know if Saleh didn’t want the Lions job, or if the Lions weren’t interested in Saleh, but either way -- not being able to land Saleh is just classic Lions.

Saleh received plenty of attention as a possible candidate for the Lions’ head coaching job, not only because of his success in San Francisco, but also because was born and raised in Dearborn and attended Fordson High School and Northern Michigan University.

Saleh’s family still lives in Dearborn and the Lions job seemed like a match made in heaven. “He has to get the Detroit job,” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said in December.

Saleh told 97.1 The Ticket last year that he’s still very much attached to his hometown.

“It still means a lot to me,” he said. “Shoot, I brag about the city of Dearborn all the time. Fordson High School, brag about it all the time. People are like, ‘Why are you still attached to your high school?’ Because there’s nothing like it, man. No, I’m still very much attached.”

If Robert Saleh interviewed with the Lions and decided it wasn’t the right situation for him -- then fine. Who could blame him? It’s the Lions after all. Maybe Saleh didn’t want the hometown pressure of turning a historically bad franchise into a winner. But Saleh did take a job with the New York Jets -- not much of an improvement situation wise.

Related: Bipartisan Michigan lawmakers endorse Robert Saleh as next Lions coach

If the Lions passed on Saleh, that’s an entirely different issue. Let’s be clear here -- the Lions have zero track record on making the right hires. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Saleh is off to the Jets and the Lions are losing out on top candidates for head coach. Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith reportedly canceled his second interview with the Lions and is primed to take the Falcons job.

That leaves former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles or Saints assistant Dan Campbell as the favorites for now. Thrilling.

We’ll find out eventually Saleh is a good head coach. It’s just sad we won’t find out here in Detroit. Another Lions disappointment in the books.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter.