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Detroit Lions news: Team moves to 3rd head coach of 2020 season due to COVID-19

In one of the NFL's most "only-in-2020" developments, this latest Detroit Lions news outlines how shorthanded the coaching staff will be in Week 16.

Dec 22, 2019; Denver, Colorado, USA; Detroit Lions wide receivers coach Robert Prince before the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions are officially on their third head coach of 2020 for Saturday’s Week 16 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as much of the coaching staff is adhering to COVID-19 contact tracing protocols.

Interim coach Darrell Bevell is among many members of the Lions staff who won’t be in action this weekend. Wide receiver coach Robert Prince is slated to take over.

Detroit Lions news: Robert Prince becomes team’s 3rd head coach in 2020

An announcement through the team’s official website confirmed Prince as the man who’ll fill in for Bevell versus Tampa Bay. The news release also featured how the rest of the coaching staff will round out for Week 16, as many of the Lions’ absences are on the defensive side of the ball:

  • Robert Prince: Head coach
  • Quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan: Offensive coordinator
  • Head coach assistant Evan Rothstein: Defensive coordinator
  • Defensive assistant Tony Carter: Defensive backs coach
  • Director of Football Research David Corrao: Linebackers coach
  • William Clay Ford minority coaching assistant Ty Warren: Defensive line coach

Prince doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page, which goes to show how sudden his rise through the ranks really is. That’s not a knock on him at all — it’s just the bizarre reality Detroit is faced with at the moment. When was the last time an NFL head coach didn’t have his own Wikipedia to outline his coaching history?

Thankfully, the Lions’ website has Prince’s resume readily available. Although his career began in 1989 at the college level, Prince has had some fascinating stops along the way. In addition to brief stints with the Falcons, Jaguars and Seahawks, Prince was the wide receivers coach at Boise State before becoming the offensive coordinator for two seasons. Then, he arrived in Detroit to join the Lions, and has served his current position since 2014.

Not for nothing: Boise State has a head coaching vacancy. Just saying.

Back on point about Prince’s current situation, though. Having helped develop the likes of Calvin Johnson, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and others, obviously Prince has had a high degree of success in his particular area of expertise in the Motor City. This sudden chance to be a head coach could well be the opportunity of a lifetime and serve as a springboard to greener pastures in 2021.

Lions news: Team interested in Robert Saleh for head coach in 2021

Detroit Lions news: Coaching staff absences make team bigger underdog vs. Bucs

Detroit Lions news: Robert Prince and staff are huge Week 16 underdogs
Lions wide receivers coach Robert Prince talks with the media during the first day of training camp at the Lions practice facility in Allen Park on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. Credit: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The reality is, the deck is heavily stacked against Prince and his patchwork platoon of coaches.

DraftKings already lists the Lions as a 9.5-point underdog, and it’s rather surprising the point spread isn’t higher. Tampa Bay has lots of momentum after rallying from a 17-point deficit to stun Atlanta in Week 15, improving to 9-5 on the season.

Meanwhile, even a gutsy effort from banged-up quarterback Matthew Stafford couldn’t stop Detroit’s record from falling to 5-9 in a 46-25 loss to the Tennessee Titans this past Sunday.

The Lions’ defense wasn’t good under alleged genius Patricia, and hasn’t improved much since he was let go. Now that the defensive staff is so shorthanded, it’s difficult to envision the Buccaneers — with GOAT field general Tom Brady and a trove of weapons — not lighting up the scoreboard at Ford Field.

It’s a quick turnaround for a coaching staff amid relative chaos. There isn’t much but pride for Detroit to play for at this point. Meanwhile, the Bucs are making their final push for the playoffs, hoping to find consistency that’s eluded them all season on offense, as Brady has adjusted to a new system for the first time in his legendary career.

Related: Detroit Lions rumors: Team preparing to move off Matthew Stafford