What to make of the Detroit Lions’ coaching changes

Posted by ttwentyman on January 14, 2013 – 4:57 pm

The Detroit Lions announced Monday the hiring of two coaches, the movement of two others and the choice to not to retain special teams coordinator Danny Crossman.

The team hired former Bills offensive coordinator/running backs coach Curtis Modkins to serve as the team’s new running backs coach/run game coordinator. I’ve never heard the title of “run game coordinator” before, but if Modkins can bring Lions fans the same results the Bills have seen from their run game over the last three years, it doesn’t matter what title he’s given – he’ll be loved.

Modkins has done a terrific job developing C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson in Buffalo over the last three seasons. The Lions are trying to develop a thunder and lightning combo to their backfield next season and it helps to have someone setting it up who’s be successful orchestrating a two-back system like that.

Johnson is known among NFL circles as an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks. He’ll be tasked with getting more out of tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler. Pettigrew has been a solid tight end over the last four seasons, but Lions fans are still waiting for him to take the next step. Hopefully Johnson can help.

Tim Lappano moves over from the tight ends to coach the receivers. Lappano is a fiery personality on the practice field, and it’ll be interesting to see how he and mild-mannered receivers Calvin Johnson and Ryan Broyles interact. The receivers room has good leadership with Nate Burleson and Calvin Johnson, and Lappano will have to win over a unit that seemed to really like former receivers coach Shawn Jefferson.

The Lions are giving Jeremiah Washburn his first shot to be an NFL position coach by naming him the new offensive line coach. It’s a good move by the Lions to promote a coach from within who has paid his dues for four years. Washburn is smart, but very soft spoken. I can’t actually say that I’ve ever heard him yell in my time covering the Lions.

Washburn might be the most important of all the assistant hires. The Lions could see some major changes along the offensive line next season and it’ll be up to Washburn to help organize those changes and keep the franchise (quarterback Matthew Stafford) safe.

Tough task for a first-time position coach.

It’s unclear if the decision to not retain special teams coordinator Danny Crossman was a mutual decision or a Detroit Lions decision. Either way, that’s the last assistant/coordinator job still open on the staff.

Crossman took a lot of criticism for what happened in Weeks 3 and 4, but it wasn’t all his fault. It was probably time for a change, though.

There are some veteran candidates out there (Alan Lowry) and the Lions need to get more from their return game.

With an offense like theirs, the ability to play with a shorter field – or to flip field position completely – can be a real weapon. It was probably due time for a few fresh perspective on special teams.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 18 Comments »

18 Responses to “What to make of the Detroit Lions’ coaching changes”

  1. By Riley on Jan 14, 2013 | Reply

    Get rid of Schwartz!!!!!! He is the worst coach I’ve ever seen.

  2. By muchacerveza on Jan 14, 2013 | Reply

    Admittedly I don’t know much about the new hires, but I am excited to see a bit more youthful fire on the coaching front to support Schwartz’ style, (not that gash was much older, but the new hires reduce the coaching age by a few years and both seem to be in phases of their career where they have something to prove.) The idea of a running game coordinator is intriguingly fresh, especially considering Modkins’ resume. Very hopeful that this offseason legitimizes Schwartz’ tenure.

  3. By Carol Wadsworth on Jan 14, 2013 | Reply

    well I really hope these new coaches do help, this team need,s something positive in their lives, like discipline and tougher guy,s to do the job.as for anything else , I don’t know what to call the different things the team has to do or what the football lingo is all about, all I know is that I would love to see them start winning. as for protection for QB Stafford who know,s what it will take to make him Better at what he does. he still dances around like Charlie batch did and is afraid of getting tackeld. well this is enough for now. go lions in the Honalulu Blue. DO NOT CHANGE THE UNIFORM COLOR.

  4. By Ben on Jan 14, 2013 | Reply

    Methinks they need new kicker and punter to start with. I like touchbacks.

  5. By LionHeart on Jan 14, 2013 | Reply

    I wish these guys the best of luck. Next year will be very exciting for Lions fans.

  6. By michaelpetrone on Jan 14, 2013 | Reply


  7. By ghost on Jan 14, 2013 | Reply

    I feel like we are rolling the dice.

  8. By rufo on Jan 14, 2013 | Reply

    It’s pointless, until they get rid of Linehan the Lions will continue to struggle on offense when they should be one of the best.

  9. By fuss taylor on Jan 14, 2013 | Reply

    shawn jefferson will be a miss , I don,t know how this franchise can call it
    anything less. The losses he had to deal with were nate{broken leg} titus
    {kicked off of team}broyles{injured for rest of year}and down the list. He made do with nothing but calvin johnson and he was not calling the plays. I don,t know if you guy,s were watching the week by week on this web site but there he was telling us about something else that he taught to our wide recievers . I don,t see mild mannered clark kent standing in the face of your boss like shawn did right or wrong

  10. By Michael on Jan 15, 2013 | Reply

    I agree no matter what you do with the positional coaches it is diminished by not firing Linehan and Cunningham. Linehan can’t seem to make the adjustments he needs to make and our red zone percentage we either settle for a field goal instead of 7..He leacks creativity and runs the same things time after time. The defense can pretty much guess what is coming with linehan and he never changes always the same plays. Cunningham and that god awful wide nine just has to go. Our whole defense is predicated on our defensive line getting to the qb. We only had 34 sacks and experienced quarterbacks threades us like A. Rodgers who would just step up and if there was no one open could just run with it as the middle was wide open. Cunningham might have been sucessful in the 80’s but times have changed and he needs to get with the program and change his schemes or get rid of those rose colored glesses as it seems like they are making him blind to the situations presented by the opponents offense.

  11. By rockbo1955 on Jan 15, 2013 | Reply

    I disagree but if offensive line can not run block its up to offensive line coach to make sure that happens! If you can not block for running our passing it does not matter who offense coach is !

  12. By ghost on Jan 15, 2013 | Reply

    I agree with Michael. Ive an old dope like me was screeming into the TV about changing routes and other plays early in the season. But no, even though the defences had the routes figured out the recievers had to run the same old thing game after game. Consistant problems like the Lions have comes from the top. Sucessess or failure comes from the top.

  13. By Dan Oh on Jan 15, 2013 | Reply

    I have very little hope for this team. They are content fooling fans into spending money on tickets. I foresee more 4-5 win seasons. Very dissapointing. The good news; we can focus on real life.

  14. By ghost on Jan 15, 2013 | Reply

    As Dan Oh says, there is little hope. I see them like the chargers or other teams that may have winning seasons and may reach a playoff game now and them but will be eternally an also ran.

  15. By Dave "Waz" on Jan 15, 2013 | Reply

    I have been saying all season that the upper tier of our coaching staff could use a good house cleaning. Special teams coach, good riddens! The way they played this year, I’m only saddened by the fact he didn’t go to GB, Chicago or MN. As to Schwartz, Linehan and company, get more aggressive or get out!. Did you watch the Denver game? Their head coach used our philosphy and it cost him the game. They chose to run the ball on 3rd down instead of letting Manning throw for a 1st and they punted. You give the opposition 45 seconds or longer, it’s too much time. You’re in trouble. We did that in at least 2 games this year and it cost us. The teams that win get aggressive, get the first down and use up the clock. The Colts did that in a game against Titans the week after we lost one of those games. 3rd and 7 and the Titans used their last TO. The Colts gambled and threw for a first down … game over! We (and Denver) played to not loose the game instead of playing to win it. Those of you who played the game know this concept well. To bad our coaching staff doesn’t get it.
    It’s OK to make mistakes if you learn from them. Let’s call this past season a BIG mistake. If Schwartz and co. learned from it, great! We’ll see the change immediately if we draft smart and get a couple of good Free Agents. If not, it’s going to be difficult to stay a Lion fan. I am cautiously optimistic. Not likin’ what I’ve seen in the past week though???

  16. By Lion Dean on Jan 16, 2013 | Reply

    The big guy Brandon Pettigrew with fluffy hands is a catch dropper! Last chance for Schwartz, Linehan and Cunningham is 2013. Need to win at least 10-6 to be here in 2014. I hope with the changes in coaches and players for the new season we will also see a new playbook for offense and defense, GO LIONS!

  17. By nighttrain1 on Jan 16, 2013 | Reply

    Dave Waz, I agree with you, the Lions as a team is not all that bad, it’s the coaches that play scared. The Lions get a team to 3rd and long, what other team in the entire NFL but the Lions will rush only 4 men and make the rest of the team play prevent defense??
    I can’t remember one game all year that the Lion coaches played to win, they play like they’re trying to outsmart the other team instead of just playing their game.
    I don’t remember the Head coach that said it, but he said, so what, teams may know the plays we like to run but until they stop us, we’re going to run them anyway. The Lion coaches don’t do that, they play scared.

  18. By ghost on Jan 22, 2013 | Reply

    iIt seems like we are hiring from losing teams. But, what choice do we have? Coaches from the Pats, 49ers, Broncos etcs are not going to leave a winning team to come to a cronically bad team unless, — unless we pay them a ton of money.

    How about that Fords? Reach down deep on those pockets.

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