Jim Bob Cooter is trying to figure out how to beat the Green Bay Packers without Ameer Abdullah.
In the meantime, the rest of the Detroit Lions organization is busy working on his presidential campaign.
The concept started earlier this week when wide receiver Golden Tate saw a van with “Jim Bob Cooter for President” painted on the back. Tate said he considered following the driver home to tell him that he supported the idea. Instead, he posted a picture to Instagram, starting the wheels in motion.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin endorsed his colleague on Thursday, finishing his weekly press conference with “Jim Bob Cooter for President.”
Jim Caldwell isn’t sure about his assistant’s positions on global warming or the student-debt explosion, but he does think that his memorable name could help him in the Electoral College.
“I think he’d be a good one,” Caldwell said. “I know he’d get the Southern states, that’s for sure.”
Cooter was baffled by the whole thing, even though he’s got plenty of time to put together a platform. He’s only 32, so he’s not eligible to run against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. His supporters, realizing that, have planned for him to run in 2020. Tate suspects he’ll probably be facing Kanye West.
“I’d like to thank Teryl for that present,” Cooter said as he followed Austin to the podium. “I have enough of my own problems.”
It appeared that Cooter had built an offensive juggernaut when Matthew Stafford outdueled Andrew Luck in Week 1’s 39-35 victory, but Lions fans got a dose of reality seven days later. Facing the lightly regarded Tennessee Titans, Detroit only got the ball into the end zone once and were outscored 13-3 in the second half.
One of the problems was that Abdullah was on the sidelines with a foot injury. He had surgery this week and was placed on injured reserve. If he returns at all this season, it won’t be until late November.
That leaves the running game in the hands of receiving specialist Theo Riddick and rookie Dwayne Washington. Riddick caught 80 passes last season, but only carried the ball 43 times for 133 yards. This season, though, he’s averaging 4.6 yards a carry.
Washington showed his big-play ability with a 28-yard carry against the Titans, but his other five rushes have gone for four yards.
“Ameer’s a really good player, and now guys are going to have to step up,” Cooter said. “They are going to have to step up in the pass game, protections and everything. There are going to be more reps and more carries, and hopefully they do well.”
Working under Caldwell means that Cooter has learned not to give away any information. When asked how Riddick and Washington’s roles will expand, he got quite coy.
“It will adjust depending on the guy,” he said. “Ameer is really good at certain things, and if we ask somebody else to maybe try to do exactly what Ameer does, that’s not going to be real smart of us. A lot of the stuff will look similar going forward, but there will be some things that we do a little differently.”
A year ago, after replacing Joe Lombardi, Cooter got his first win as an offensive coordinator at Lambeau Field. In the process, he helped the Lions win in Wisconsin for the first time in the Favre/Rodgers era.
“It was a big deal,” he said. “It was our first game after the bye week, and he had a chance to get some things in order. We were playing a team that everyone expected to beat us, but we fought them tooth and nail and had a nice drive late to win it.”
“That was a lot of fun to watch. It meant a lot to me and a lot to the offense. That’s what started the ball rolling for our successful second half of the season.”