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The Detroit Lions coaching staff

By Imperical Evidence

Most Detroit Lions fans have their favorite player, or players. They know names and numbers on the team. They have aspirations and expectations for players on the roster.

I think to understand the team, the roster cuts as they happen, and the season as a whole, we have to start with the coaching staff. Knowing and understanding the coaches can give us as fans a deeper insight as the season unfolds. I suggest you, as the reader, bookmark this page and check back here every once in a while to get a refresher on your coaching staff. I think the team as a whole will become clearer with this approach.

This is only a suggestion, not the gospel. Every fan has his own way to follow the game.


The Detroit Lions have retained the majority of the coaching staff from last year. Gone is Bob Karmelowicz, Jeff Horton, Stan Kwan, and Malcolm Blacken. The new faces in town are Jeremiah Washburn, Danny Crossman, and Ted Rath.



HEAD COACH: Jim Schwartz


DEFENSE
Defensive Coordinator - Gunther Cunningham
Linebackers - Matt Burke
Defensive Assistant - Don Clemons
Defensive Line - Kris Kocurek
Assistant Secondary - Daron Roberts
Secondary - Tim Walton

OFFENSE
Offensive Coordinator - Scott Linehan
Assistant Quarterbacks - Todd Downing
Running Backs - Sam Gash
Wide Receivers - Shawn Jefferson
Tight Ends - Tim Lappano
Offensive Line - George Yarno
Assistant Offensive Line - Jeremiah Washburn

SPECIAL TEAMS
Special Teams Coordinator - Danny Crossman
Assistant Special Teams - Brad Banta

STRENGTH and CONDITIONING
Coordinator of Physical Development - Jason Arapoff
Strength and Conditioning - Ted Rath



The Full Picture:

Head Coach: Jim Schwartz
Schwartz can no longer bank on his history as the former Titans Defensive Coordinator with the fans. He must mold the Lions in his image, and that image had better be something that works.
Question Marks:
In his second year as Head Coach, with the majority of his coaching staff returning, can Schwartz begin to put his stamp on this team? The game planning must be better, look to week 8 Vs. the Redskins at Ford Field, after a bye week. The loss to the Rams last season still smells.
Game planning is important, but Schwartz also has to show that he can make adjustments during games. The game isn't won before it's played, it's won because of how it's played. If the offense isn't working, change it. Same thing on defense. Schwartz also needs to clean up the sloppy play on both sides of the ball.


Defense
Defensive Coordinator - Gunther Cunningham
A coach with tons of experience, Cunningham now has talent on the defensive line to work with. He likes to blitz, and with the front four the Lions will field the secondary will not be called on this year as much in run support. Coverage will become the primary concern.
Question Marks:
It will be imperative to get the young talent the Lions will be bringing in on the field and productive as soon as possible, and Gunther prefers players with some experience. This will be a big test of his skill as a defensive coordinator.

Linebackers - Matt Burke
Burke was a defensive assistant with the Titans,and spent five years there working with Jim Schwartz. He failed with Ernie Sims last season, this year he must get the most from Levy, Peterson, and Follett.
Question Marks:
Can he get the most out of young linebackers?

Defensive Assistant - Don Clemons
This guy has been in Detroit for 25 years,and has been part of some good defences.
Clemons has coached every position on defense during this time here, and Schwartz has to like the flexibility he brings to the table.
Question Marks:
Just one, can Clemons and Cunningham improve the defense in the second year of the system?


Defensive Line - Kris Kocurek
After one year as the assistant defensive line coach, Kocurek now gets his shot. He brings college experience to this job,most notably at West Texas A&M,where he was the defensive line coach.
Question Marks:
Kocurek has the prize of the draft for the Lions to work with, a boy named Suh. Sammie Hill is going into his second year. Tons of young talent, can Kocurek get the most from them?

Assistant Secondary - Daron Roberts
Roberts worked under Cunningham in Kansas City as defensive quality control assistant. Now going into his second year at this position with the Lions.
Question Marks:
The secondary added Delmas last year, and Spievy this year. Roberts and Walton have to bring them along. Can they?

Secondary - Tim Walton
Walton has a lot of experience at the college level, and has coached many cornerbacks who have went on to the NFL. Now he is in his second year in Detroit, and must show that his ideas can work.
Question Marks:
Can Walton coach NFL cornerbacks, and an NFL scheme in the secondary? Will the pass coverage improve?







OFFENSE
Offensive Coordinator - Scott Linehan
Linehan coached the offense in Minnesota, and is remembered for what he did with Culpepper and Randy Moss. Scott Linehan now needs to put his identity on the Lions offense.
Question Marks:
More firepower this year with Best in the draft, Scheffler, Sims and Burleson in off season moves. The offensive line will be the key to this offense, can Linehan make everything work? Can he bring out the potential of Matthew Stafford?

Assistant Quarterbacks - Todd Downing
Downing was a defensive quality control coach with the Rams in 2008. He goes from Offensive Quality Control to Assistant Quarterbacks coach this season.
Question Marks:
What influence will he have on Matthew Stafford?

Running Backs - Sam Gash
Gash worked with rookie running back Kevin Smith in 2008, and Smith gained almost 1,000 yards. In 2009, Kevin Smith took several steps backwards.
Question Marks:
The Lions have yet to establish a strong running game. The change of pace back is still not in place. Can Gash get it done with new addition Jahvid Best? How will Kevin Smith react to becoming a #2 back?

Wide Receivers - Shawn Jefferson
Jefferson worked with rookie wide receiver Calvin Johnson in 2008, and then again in 2009. Calvin and the other receivers were somewhat of a disappointment last season.
Question Marks:
Can Jefferson get Burleson to perform in this offense? So far the Lions haven't had much luck finding a receiver that can take pressure away from Calvin Johnson. Is it the offense, the receivers, or do we need to look at another wide receivers coach?


Tight Ends - Tim Lappano
Lappano has served as a running backs coach at the NFL level, and an offensive coordinator in college. He has had one season with the Lions at this position, and has the weapons with Pettigrew and scheffler.
Question Marks:
Can he develop a tight end? Pettigrew needs to continue to develop, and the tight ends as a unit need to be more productive.

Offensive Line - George Yarno
An assistant line coach in Tampa Bay, Yarno has had a full season with the Lions as the offensive line coach to install his blocking scheme.
Question Marks:
Yarno has his work cut out for him. The only change on the offensive line will be the starting left guard spot. Last season many thought he could bring Backus back to form. In my opinion, he failed. Are the problems with the offensive line really all at left guard every year? Can Yarno get Cherilus playing consistent, mistake free football? This is an area that needs some talent infusion.

Assistant Offensive Line - Jeremiah Washburn
Jeremiah Washburn joins the Lions coaching staff as the assistant offensive line coach. He has spent the last six seasons working in the Baltimore Ravens player personnel department. For the past four seasons (2005-08), Washburn was the Ravens’ area scout for the Southwest. He covered schools from the Big 12, SEC, WAC and Conference USA, and he assisted in the acquisition of rookie free agents following the draft.
Question Marks:
Can Washburn make the transition from scout to coach? Can he help get the offensive line on the same page?


SPECIAL TEAMS
Special Teams Coordinator - Danny Crossman
Danny Crossman arrives in Detroit after working the past seven seasons (2003-09) with the Carolina Panthers, including the previous five seasons (2005-09) as special teams coordinator.
Question Marks:
The Lions need a spark here, is he it?

Assistant Special Teams - Brad Banta
Banta returns once again.
Question Marks:
Can Banta and Crossman get the special teams on the same page on kick and punt returns, and coverage?



STRENGTH and CONDITIONING
Coordinator of Physical Development - Jason Arapoff
Arapoff returns once again.
Question Marks:
Not many.

Strength and Conditioning - Ted Rath
Ted Rath joins the Lions as their strength and conditioning assistant. He has spent the past two years as the assistant director of strength and conditioning for his alma mater, the University of Toledo.
Question Marks:
Can the Lions as a team put a win or two on the board late in the season?

Overview:
As fans, we have a general idea of what this coaching staff wants to do with the Detroit Lions. With the addition of Suh in the draft and KVB in the off season, and changes with the linebackers, I think the run defense with the front seven is very solid. I also think the emphasis that has been placed on cornerbacks that could provide run support in the past becomes an emphasis on pass coverage in the secondary. I think Gunther will get more pressure with the front four, and Follett is a big improvement over Ernie Sims when it comes to disrupting the backfield.

On offense, once again we will see many 2 tight end sets, with TEs jumping into the full back or half back position before the snap at times. That dosen't mean the offensive line will be better. I think the offense improves, but I also think not many other NFL defenses are afraid of them.

Special teams are a fog to me right now, but I think the kick and punt returns have to be better this season.








3 comments:

  1. Let me know what you think about these coaches. What ones are strong and what ones are on the bubble?
    Will Special Teams improve this year?
    Am I way off base about the offensive line?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think the pressure is really on this staff now to get it done on the field, the talent is beginning to improve and we can't win just 1 or 2 games again. Scott Linehan is in line for the head coaching spot if Schwartz doesn't make it through the year. I think linebackers Matt Burke is a very important man this year in what he can get done with his unit. Nice article, it seems that Schwartz was connected enough that he assembled a solid staff of veteran coaches but I wonder if he didn't do a great job of assembling young talented coaches which I feel is also important.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yarno is certainly under a lot of pressure. He needs to get Gos to perform, and if Gos doesn't perform he has to get Fox developed.

    Crossman also has a lot of pressure on him. He needs to find a return man desperately. There's a lot of potential talent for one, he just needs to groom the talent into actual production.

    ReplyDelete