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All assistant coaches are signed for Lions

Posted by ttwentyman on January 27, 2012 – 4:45 pm

The Lions have confirmed the signing of all of their assistant coaches for the 2012 season.

Defensive backs coach Tim Walton and receivers coach Shawn Jefferson were the last to sign on the dotted line.

Walton interviewed with the Rams for their assistant defensive coordinator position last week, but ultimately decided to rejoin the Lions.

The Lions announced the signing of coordinators Gunther Cunningham (defense), Scott Linehan (offense) and Danny Crossman (special teams) earlier this month.

“I think we have a good group of coaches mixed with experience and younger guys, some former players, some guys that never played, but I like that dynamic and I like the consistency,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said after the season. “We were consistent from a preparation standpoint, from a game plan standpoint, from week-to-week.”

The Lions coaching staff has remained one of the most consistent since Schwartz took over in 2009.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 9 Comments »

Report: Lions defensive backs coach Tim Walton interviews with Rams

Posted by ttwentyman on January 22, 2012 – 7:21 pm

Lions defensive backs coach Tim Walton, whose contract expired after the season, interviewed with the St. Louis Rams on Saturday, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Walton is a candidate to be the Rams’ assistant defensive coordinator for the passing game, according to the report.

Walton has coached the Lions defensive backs the last three seasons. The Lions announced the re-signings of coordinators Gunther Cunningham (defense), Scott Linehan (offense) and Danny Crossman (special teams). They have extended offers to their assistant coaches, too, but have not announced any signings.

The Rams recently hired former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher to be their new head coach. Gregg Williams, who was the Saints’ defensive coordinator this past season, is their new defensive coordinator and Brian Schottenheimer, who was most recently with the Jets, has been hired as their offensive coordinator.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 5 Comments »

Lions re-sign coordinators Cunningham, Linehan and Crossman

Posted by ttwentyman on January 12, 2012 – 1:44 pm

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said today the team has re-signed all three of its coordinators to new contracts.

Gunther Cunningham (defense), Scott Linehan (offense) and Danny Crossman (special teams) will all return to the sideline next season.

The extensions actually occurred months ago during the regular season but were confirmed by Mayhew today.

Mayhew also expects to start working on an extension with head coach Jim Schwartz, who is entering the final year of his deal.

“We plan to start to work on that in the next couple weeks or so,” Mayhew said of the Schwartz deal.

He also said the team is now working on extensions with its assistant coaches.

“We hope to have all those guys back,” he said.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 75 Comments »

Cunningham says Lions owe the city a playoff celebration

Posted by ttwentyman on December 23, 2011 – 12:48 pm

Gunther Cunningham has talked on multiple occasions about his affection for the City of Detroit since becoming the Lions’ defensive coordinator in 2009.

With the Lions on the cusp of possibly clinching a playoff spot for the first time since 1999 with a win against the Chargers Saturday, Cunningham said Thursday that the Lions owe Detroit that opportunity to celebrate.

“I don’t know if I can talk about that because this city has kind of grown under my skin,” he said.

“It is just the greatest thing that could ever happen to this town. I think one of the things that really upsets me is people don’t know what it is all about here. How beautiful it is and the people are so great. They talk about Detroit like it is old New York. It is not right. We want to prove that point. They call us over aggressive and, yeah, we are. We play for a big reason. We play for this city and for the state.

“I look around and people work for a living here. When I drive in about 4 (a.m), it looks like a traffic jam. I finally figure out where they all go; they go to work. For me, personally, this is real big and real important.”


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 10 Comments »

Lewand, Lions comment on sudden death of beat writer Tom Kowalski

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on August 29, 2011 – 1:18 pm

Tom Kowalski, longtime Detroit Lions writer for Booth Newspapers and MLive.com, died this morning, according to his fiancee, Diane Wolan.

“The entire Lions organization, the Ford family, and me, personally, were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tom Kowalski this morning,” said Detroit Lions Team President Tom Lewand. “Tom was a true professional, the consummate beat writer, somebody who brought a lot of tremendous information to our fans — even in times of disagreement; we always had the utmost respect for his professionalism.

“He will be sorely missed and our deepest sympathies go out to Diane and to his entire family. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of them.”

HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ
“I’ll just say this about Tom,” said Head Coach Jim Schwartz. “The one thing he always tried to do was get it right. He knew football and he always wanted to get it right and we had a lot of respect for that.”

Schwartz lets the first question go unanswered in honor of Kowalski

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM
“It was tough hearing the news today about Tom because I felt like I lost a good friend and not just a writer,” said Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham. “When he asked me questions, it was important to him to be right. Obviously, he always did his homework and that’s what I respected most about him. To me, he was an old-school writer. He was honest and fair.

“The way I look at him, he is all Detroit. People in this area that I met, they are all alike and he epitomized that. Our conversations were solid, and there was mutual respect for each other. Beyond football, we would also talk about life.

“I am sad that he is gone. God bless his family and friends.”

CENTER DOMINIC RAIOLA
“On behalf of the team, we consider him part of the family; we saw him every day,” said center Dominic Raiola. “I dealt with Tom every day; I’d see him out here. (It will) take a lot of time to get over this.

“In the end, Tom always had the best interest of everybody in that locker room. He always wanted to know more about why things happened on the field and he always did a good job of that. He was a good person; he was fun to be around. (I) had a lot more personal relationship with him, so that was some tough news to hear.”

KICKER JASON HANSON
“I have too many (memories),” said kicker Jason Hanson. “It is one of those things, just like with everybody, takes you by surprise. It kind of knocks the wind out of you. You don’t know what to say or think yet. It is just amazing. Of all the reporters, I think he was the one that got it right most of the time and really had the insight.

“Beyond that, regardless of any of that, he will be missed by all of us. And everyone in this locker room, their condolences and their prayers and their thoughts go to his family and friends. I am just at a loss of words. I don’t know what to think. We all are like ‘Is it true?’ We are devastated.”

QUARTERBACK MATTHEW STAFFORD
“Tom was a great guy,” said quarterback Matthew Stafford. “He was a big football guy; you could tell he knew football, he loved it. He was always a good guy in our locker room and we were blessed to have him around.

“As coach pointed out on the field, he said ‘You know, he always tried to get it right, which is something you respect from a reporter.’ He will definitely be missed.”

A collection of Tweets honoring Tom


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Strong Linebacker Corps Forcing Tough Decisions

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on October 1, 2009 – 8:37 pm

After a Week 2 shoulder injury to linebacker Ernie Sims, the Detroit Lions started rookie DeAndre Levy Week 3 against the Redskins.

Now, with Sims practicing this week, Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham is facing a good problem to have: four quality linebackers that he would like to use this Sunday at Chicago.

Cunningham: “Ernie practiced well this morning. Yesterday, I was a little bit worried; I saw him do a couple of things that I didn’t like. But this morning he came out better and, as a matter of fact, I yelled at him pretty good on one play and we had a long talk about the play. Then he went back out and stepped up his practice.

“I think when you’re injured it takes about a day to really get back into it. But he did work hard this morning and looked pretty good.”

Last week against Washington, Levy got the start and stepped up to the challenge. He finished second on the team in tackles (3 solo, 3 assists) to veteran linebacker Larry Foote and was in on a number of key plays, including the last three plays of Detroit’s goal-line stand in the first quarter.

Cunningham: “DeAndre’s looked good ever since camp, probably. He had a couple of down weeks as we’ve been going, but he’s really played well and we’re looking forward to having him play this week.”

How is Cunningham going to balance this rotation?

“There’s concern with who we’re going to play where and how many plays they’re going to play – that’s the difficult part,” he said.

As the Lions get closer to this week’s game, Cunningham and the coaching staff will have a tough decision to make, but it is a good problem to have.

Cunningham: “I feel good that we have a pretty good group of linebackers and that doesn’t just mean the three starters and DeAndre. I think Jordon Dizon’s been playing well and (Darnell) Bing stepped up on special teams, which now makes me look at him a little more on defense.”

There are some options considering the versatility of Detroit’s linebacker corps. While Foote is a true middle, there are significant differences between the type of outside linebacker Sims, Levy and Julian Peterson are.

Considering Peterson is a lengthy player who can also act as a down linemen, Cunningham may be able to get all four of them on the field at the same time.

Cunningham: “We can do a few different things; we’ve practiced it at different spots this week. Hopefully all four of them will get a chance to play quite a bit, because we need them – they’re all pretty good players and we can use as many good ones on the field at the same time as we can get.”


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