Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cunningham as DC

Great comments by all this ifseason! Plenty of great points on free agency, and the additions of the right types of players, etc.

I'm in Lansing - West Side. Maybe next year I'll have to do a "DF79 Afternoon" at Rookies or something so all us Lansing area fans can get together. We'll see.

Well, the Lions have a DC. I haven't had much time to look into his background, but did find some good reads about his personality at Mlive, as well as a great background piece by a Chiefs blogger on Pride of Detroit, and his interview with the Freep here.

My general consensus view is that he likes an attacking pressure D, which is what he ran successfully in his first stint as the KC DC. He was in over his head an a HC, and ended up as LB coach under Schwartz his first 3 years in Tennesee. He hasn't had a lot of success as of late with the KC defense, but he has been running a T2 for them as that is what his boss, Herm Edwards, wanted him to run. Not his cup of tea.

As far as I can tell from the different reports, KC initially said "No" to talking with him, but then changed their minds and told him if we wanted to go, he could. I think they figured even if Herm stayed, a new DC was likely if not this year, next -- and decided to let the Gun, as he is called down there, do what was best for him.

Cunningham and Shcwartz have worked well together before, and with his experience he should be able to help put together the kind of defense that makes use of players, not just scheme, that Schwartz has indicated he wants to run. I disagree that he only did well when he had great players -- KC has drafted as bad as Detroit in the last few years. Couple that with running a defense he didn't believe in and get the picture. Not to mention -- they were running a T2 and they let traded his top DE! Pretty hard to pressure in a T2 in that situation... no matter who you are.

We'll just have to wait and see, but if he and schwartz go with a style of D that is a mix of the late 90's KC Defense, and the 2000's Tennesee D then the Lions will be in great shape!!

As for players, that will all depend on if Mayhew-Lewand keeps up the good work they are doing so far. The Draft and Free Agency will be a big look on how they are doing.

Next up? Another Coordinator who isn't happy with the schemes he was forced to run, or the personnel situation he was dealt, or how the franchise treated him: Brian Schottenheimer.

I've read that he is both irritated that he didn't get the HC spot, but moreso because it was due to his "failures" as OC -- you know, running a more conservative offense for "Mangenius" than he wanted, and not being able to get beyond an elementary offense because he got saddled with Brett "I might retire but I might not" Favre on the downside of his career - and with no knowledge of the playbook, virtually after camp was over. yeah -- that really helped his offense. And they got rid of the QB who knew the offense best - Chad Pennington - to boot! Not sure I'm sold on him, but I think that Schottenheimer or Linehan if he'll come are the top two options right now. We'll have to see what he does...

Glad the "Peppers" piece gave everyone a good laugh -- it was meant as a general piece on building a team and managing an NFL roster; Only the last line was really meant to be about Peppers (other than the "Onion leaving for the Stats" bit.)


JJLions20 said...

As for the DC hiring, I think it's the right move and a good fit. Gunther is an attacking style DC which fit's with Swartz’s philosophy. He brings a lot of NFL experience with him including Head Coaching experience. It's a real good pick. It's never a sexy pick when you chose somebody by the name of Gunther as your coach. But a good pick never the less. I suspect there is a good chance the #1 pick will be a front 7 defensive player.

I'm hoping Swartz finds a young OC that was groomed under Parcell, but one that has a creative mind. One that understands the need to run the ball, but at the same time be creative enough to get the ball to CJ, and always keep the opposing defense guessing. I’d also hope to see Colletto kept as an O-Line coach. He’s not an OC, but he has the line executing the zone blocking well. So just because the guy is not a good coordinator doesn’t make him a good position coach. Just like Gunther was over matched as a Head Coach, but he is a good Defensives Coordinator.

RIP said...

Interesting hire by Schwartz, which I love.
In the Navy, they train the officer leadership so that the Commanding Officer is the good guy, while the second in charge (Executive Officer) is the bad guy. The XO is the one who wields the whip. He who does not want to follow will first go through the XO first, and then the CO.
Cunningham seems to be that whip we need on defense to get things turned around. “What were you doing? That is not where I wanted you to be! Go sit down”.
Can you imagine what Shaun Rogers would say to that? Remember Rod’s first practice when he ran the same play three times because Shaun would not play the whole series?
Rod had a purpose in weeding out the non hustle players.
Now, from I read, we have the starting blocks put in place to move forward on defense as for as the coaching staff goes.

Ty said...

Rookie's is where my FF league has all their auctions, owner's meetings, etc.; that sounds like a great idea. The interview with the Freep is music to my ears; I really think that Schwartz is going to take the leash off of Gunther and there's going to be some dudes flying to the ball. I agree with the Schottenhiemer call; the Jets have done well with a line that's big but isn't talented, and IMO Thomas Jones and Kevin Smith are comparable in size and style. With Andre Davis, Backus moved in to guard, Ed Mulitalo and Gosder Cherilus, that is one big strong mean offensive line. Run Kevin Smith behind that 25 times and you WILL control the clock.

Anonymous said...

I think we are all on the same page with the Lions' changes.

RIP-I think you're right. We didn't have a ton of talent on the roster (and poor coaching, and adjustments), but we have rock pounders who will claw the wall all practice long. At least we have the short cutters all weeded out. If they sprinkle in the right amount of talent-who knows how far off they are.

JJLIONS- A front seven pick may not be far off at all. For the first three rounds. I'll bet the first three rounds yield us (not in this order) MLB, CB, TE, NT, OG.

It depends what they see as needs and how they stack the talent pools/depth of positions in the draft.

Going with the CO-XO theme, could you imagine Gunther and Jon Gruden as assistant coaches. Gruden also knows the playbook, cracks a whip, and can run an offense well. He likes to pound the ball (which seems to fit the ongoing themes of Mayhew and Schwartz). He's been known to be fiery and a work-a-holic, and wouldn't make Schwartz feel like he needs to look over his shoulder (a'la Martz). I would still think Schottenheimer is the lead so far.

RIP said...


I like the Gruden option, for I have a feeling Schottenheimer is a year away from being a head coach.

Isphet said...

I think Gruden would be a good hire, etc. But there's something that's nagging at me.

The Lions seem to be going for coaches that will stick around for at least a few years. No matter how good the D is; Cunningham probably isn't going to get another shot at head coach any time soon because of the KC experience. I get the feeling that the Lions are leaning against hiring a big name like a Gruden or Shannahan, simply because if he has a good year a O coordinator, he would have a good chance of being a head coach again next year.

I don't think the Lions want someone that's looking at the job as a quick stepping stone to another position elsewhere; which is what it would be for Gruden or Shannahan. Just a gut feeling I have about the direction the Lions seem to be going.

Oh, the Lions just signed Bob Slowik, Denver's defensive coordinator in 08 to be the new defensive backs coach. They sure do seem to be stocking up on guys that know their defense; they've got 3 coaches now that were all D coordinators last year. That's a pretty good signing for a DB coach.

RIP said...

Cunningham is already our DC and Assistant Head coach. Would not surprise me if he also added the title of d-line or LB coach.

CHIEFGER139 said...

like this hiring
27 years experience and will attack the qb-sounds good!! plus unlike before we have someone in place to take over if all fails in we need to fire a head coach-like rod needed to be fired last year!! but no one capable of taking over!! he truely has a tough task of taking the worst d-in possiblly nfl history in makin it somewhat reliable-im real curious how we will deal with free agency and the draft-can we now have big guys on d-and have guys good enough to let them rest?? lets hope so-face it even a top 25 defense would be a huge acomplishment!! face it again-the only reason we were 32nd in the league in defense was there were only 32 teams -if there were 40 teams we would of been 40th etc. we are that horrible. after reading isphets long post and research were lucky most teams just took a knee and ran out the clock-if we were a college team and faced a team like florida state who likes to run up the score we would of been really humilated-most teams respected rod and the team and chose to just run out the clock. never seen a team give up so many 100 yard rush games-most teams with decent running backs had 2 100 yard rushers against us-hopefully they get some beef in there now to plug the flood gates!! in a name like gunther i think hes our man!! go lions!! go young so things in the future can be done!!

CHIEFGER139 said...

posred this on m-live
your thoughts agree or disagree-actually i think keeping bobby ross at the expense of letting barry sanders go was by far worst!! not even close but read my blog

thanks a2leo
i hope we get cody he impressed me but will have to wait and see-a mountin of a man that can sack the qb is what we need-sorry to say it but hes a young shaun rogers and rogers is why we went from 7 wins to none-rod and all on here that wabted him gone blew it-yes you blew it big time!! we'd be talkin about what we need to critique this team to be a playoff team at worst and be talkin about what we need to tweek this team to take it from being a playoff team to be a superbowl calibr team at best-now were stuck in this near hopeless condition of anything goes-does who waNTED ROGERS GONE SHAME ON YOU-fetish was right-stupidest move the franshise ever made period!! no dumd decisions again like this please!! hard to do when cj and hanson and harris are the only keepers worth mentioning-trouble is kickers dont win games and one great receiver cant either!! god help us-go swartz and crowd get ur done!!

RIP said...

Bobby Ross wanted a more reliable run game and put the extra practices in to get it done. Barry Sanders stated years before is retirement that he would not put a timeline on how long he was going to play. He stated then that he would probably walk away when he stopped having fun.
Shuan Rogers was a trade that had to be done for the team to play as a unit. If Rod could not motivate him, who is to say that Cunningham and he would work well together?
We know have from the trade a versatile starting corner, and a guy that Jacksonville wanted very bad in Fluellen.
Also the benefit of not having Shaun is we were able to see where our true strengths and weaknesses were in the front seven.

Isphet said...

oops, the Slowik report was just speculation and now it looks like he's not coming to Detroit. My bad.

Anonymous said...

Slowick may not be coming, but this now seems pretty solid as two different sources that are NOT the Rocky Mountain News have reported this:::

A funny slant on how possible divine intervention is now with the Lions. Although the Rams didn't get any "juju" from this relationship.

DetFan1979 said...

Thanks Nubs! I finally am able to get into my own blog! Wanted to post it up this morning, but glad there are multiple sources now.

I'll have to work on remote acess a bit or something. My initial thought is awesome!

He was my favorite option among who they were looking at...of course, this does invalidate the "who for OC" post I wrote put forgot to publish last night (apologizes to readers for pulling a Millen)

I'll be posting a new piece tonight, though it will probably be later on in the evening.

Too bad on Slowik -- I'd have been in favor of that move. Great comments all!!

detroitsims said...

Scott Linehan has been hired as OC! Caught it earlier today on ESPN.. Just thought I would let you all know!

Todd said...

First just wanted to say sorry to Chief and I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Ty, welcome to the blog, I've enjoyed your imput already and glad you have joined us optimistic fans here at detfan. You are also very well written yourself and I have favorited your Lions Winter blog and am a daily reader there now as well.

Its funny how pretty much every year the most exciting and fun time for a Lions fan is the Ifseason not the actual season. This year is no exception and I expect many more exciting days until training camp. I really like the moves so far, Schwartz, Gun, and Linehan are a great combo with 2 ex head coaches under a new head coach as the coordinators. The only person I may have wanted a little bit more for OC was Bates from Denver because he was already running a high-powered offense with the zone scheme we already have in place. Happy to get him at USC though as that is where I am doing my Master's work and unlike the Lions my college team is pretty healthy. On that zone scheme, as other writers have said I hope we keep Colletto to continue to implement that as it really seemed to be working well towards the end of the year. Kevin Smith was having some games even when we were getting beatup on.

Exciting times! Go Lions!

Also detfan or anyone else, does the cards making the superbowl, or winning it have any effect on our draft position or is that already set and they were a better record than the cowboys anyways??

DetFan1979 said...

The draft order is set for all but the 2 SB teams. Sand Diego was the only one who coudl impact draft order, as their record was worse than Dallas' -- however, they didn't make it to the SB so no dice there.

Still, Detroit is sitting pretty with picks.

RIP said...

The only playoff team that had an impact the Dallas pick was the Chargers, and only if they made the Super Bowl. With the Chargers out, we now have the 20th pick in the first round and the 18th pick in the third.
Here is hoping USC and UM meet the the BCS Championship.

Ty said...

Todd--thanks for the kind words, and thanks for reading! I am torn on Coletto, because he was so completely awful as the OC--and yet with so much invested in Cherilus, a possible OT pick at either 1.1 or 1.20, AND the fact that the offensive line has had essentially zero continuity since Lomas Brown and Kevin Glover were let go, I think keeping him might be wise.