Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Good Coach Will Come

I'm taking a day off my bright spots on the team article. First, there was more trouble finding them than I thought. Secondly, ended up not having as much time to watch the tape. Thirdly, my pick was a little blunt, and my shovel needed polishing. Finally, I keep getting tired of seeing this comment:

Lions won't get a good coach because they will have NO say in personnel, and no self respecting coach will work for Mayhew.

There are so many things wrong with this statement, I'm not sure where to start.

1. Lewand will handle cap, and Ford Field, operations, that sort of thing. The business side. Bean-counter doing bean-counter things.

2. Mayhew is head of "football operations" which is everything from the weight rooms, ifseason programs, the Allen Park facility staffing, coaches, and the player and personnel departments.

3. They fired the head of the personnel department and are actively looking for someone who will be able to come in and handle the bulk of the organizing and details of the personnel work, with Mayhew as the guiding force. They don't just want scouts who report to Millen -- they want someone to be VP of Player Personnel and handle that part of the football operations. Then Mayhew will be in charge of that person and the new HC - including evaluating performance and most importantly making the final call when they disagree.

4. The above structure is more and more being adopted by a majority of teams around the league. Why? Because in today's NFL there are too many responsibilities for just one man to do all of those jobs AND be a real HC. So this is the norm, not the exception.

5. The coach they hire or look for will be someone whose philosophy fits with the type of team they want to build. Who says the coaches and the GM have to be on different wavelengths if they are not one and the same? They didn't say the coach will have NO say in personnel matters -- just that they are looking for someone to be a coach, and someone to be VP of Personnel. 2 people. 2 jobs. Not one person doing both.

6. Doing great as a coach and poorly as a GM is what got Mike Shannahan fired. There are plenty of great coaches who prefer working with a personnel focused guy. The personnel guy knows what the coach needs (communication) the coach knows what type of team he is building, which fits the view of the big picture painted and maintained by the GM (communication) and what building blocks he needs. The Personnel guy tries to fill those holes, without putting the team as a whole in jeopardy.

7. Don't think there will be the same problems with rookies not being given a real shot with playing time to develop. All the coaches on their interview lists are creative architects and playcallers with an overall philosophy that they adapt to the players they have. Especially Schwartz of the Titans and Spagnuolo of the Giants. It is a MUST in the age of the cap and free agency. You can't build a solid talent-overload team like the dynasties pre-cap era. Even the modern day "dynasty" of NE is built on a base of above average players, with a few great pieces in important positions all working together, and used to the best of their ability by the coaches.

8. I know there is more - patience in ownership, the facilities, and the chance to really be the hero and show how good you really are, and 5 picks in the first 82 to get restocked with young talent, and the solid small core of players in place that can be built upon the direction you choose. This last is most important. The Lions' offensive talent is mostly vanilla enough with good enough toppings that you can take it in quite a few very positive directions with only a few tweaks. The defense is even more malleable. The core players you would keep could fit a 4-3, 3-4 and any number of hybrid defenses. It is how you fill the gaping holes that will dictate what you can do with it.

What all of the above tells me is that the Lions are looking for a coach who is imaginative in his playcalling and schemes, who wants to coach and leave the nitty-gritty of personnel up to others, who is looking for a challenge, who will be respected by the players, who will be hungry for his chance and make the most of it, and who above all has not just the will, but the way, to win.

Can Lewand and Mayhew find it as they fly across these great United States interviewing coaches? I'm hoping so. As a Lions fan, IF they hire the right guy...


Isphet said...

Good stuff, Detfan. The Lions have a LOT of flexibility this ifseason with the makeup of their roster; I actually think they are quietly going about things the right way as of right now.

Some startling cap-saving numbers for cutting these guys:

Bodden: 9.76 million
Culpepper: 5 million
Raiola: 4 million
Dwight Smith: 3 million
Kitna: 2.5 million
Mulitalo: 2.5 million
Dan Campbell: 1.735 million

They won't all get let go of course, but I would guess half to 3/4ths of these guys get the boot this offseason. Netrat guessed that the lions have around 10 mil or so innatural cap space, couple this with pink slips from this list and beyond and the Lions are easily looking at 30 million in cap space this offseason.

The Lions will almost certainly turn over at least 20 roster spots this ifseason between not re-signing free agents and cutting guys. again, netrat has a pretty well thought-out list that is a good rough projection of how the roster is going to shake out.

I'd love to see a roster full of draft picks and free agents that are just off their first contracts in the league that didn't quite pan out the way they were expected to with their first teams following the draft. Call them "second chance guys." If you're going to struggle (and we know the Lions will next year) you might as well be young and give guys a chance to develop.

So the Lions job isn't all that scary from a roster point of view. The biggest, most important aspect by far is getting someone that can actually evaluate some talent and draft well and get lucky with a free-agent or two.

Isphet said...

Oh, and I'm predicting now that the Lions' new head coach will be Todd Bowles of Miami.

CHIEFGER139 said...

wait an see
whoever it is i will support him. he will have a very difficult task and even a optimist like me cant see us making much of a splash in 2009. Hopefully its someone who works well with young players and when there done stripping our team down to the bare bones, we have a much younger, much hungrier team to build upon.

millersco said...

Great analysis detfan. You should share with Killer and Drew Sharpe, might help them. Nice to have some thought and facts behind opinions. Too often the prevailing wind blows without any basis. At least its interesting for fans to discuss and see who the new HC selection will be. My bet is on Frazier.

jreffy said...

Allright, so every Lions fan's favorite time of year is now upon us!

If I'm a new coach coming into Detroit, I would keep most of the offense intact. Yes, with DanO at QB. He's serviceable, still young, but the guy knows to throw the ball at Calvin, and he doesn't turn the ball over. The only change/addition to the offense I would make is drafting one of those OTs with the #1 pick. At least, that's the only talent out there I think is worthy of #1, unless there's a Defensive guy out there the Lions really like.

I want to see a new OT brought in, and see if Backus can play Guard. Unlike most people, I think Raiola is fine at Center, and will improve if he gets a little more help on the line. It's hard for a Center to make a difference on his own.

The rest of the Draft needs to be defense, defense, and defense. Everything needs to be overhauled (except maybe the D-line, but it does need imrovement). We need maybe a DT and a DE, a couple LBs, and an entire Secondary.

Either way, I want to see a defensive coach come to Detroit. I like Spagnulo or whatever his name is from New York, but I probably wouldn't mind Frazier either.

Anyway, we got a long way to go, but I'm looking forward to all the Lions talk coming after the Super Bowl in regards to the Draft.

Anonymous said...

Check your e-mail.....you know who I am

RIP said...

I looked at Net rat's wish scenario. He would like to receive draft picks in the 3rd, 5th, and
7th round for Backus and Riola. Then uses half the picks on offense.
Also noticed in Scout that with the Lion's first three picks, we could get very good linemen. That is a LT, OG, and C. Too bad that we need to use 3, if not 4, of our first 5 picks on defense.
It also doesn't look too good this year for DEs and MLBs in this years draft. Would it be best to go with free agents this year for DE, DT, and MLB? There is Peppers, Haynesworth and Spikes available.

Isphet said...

i personally would love to see the lions get a big hefty nose tackle in the draft; then move to a 3-4 defense. that would fix a lot of the Lions' defensive issues.

-Redding-Nose Tackle- Fluellen for the front 3, then move Avril back as a blitzing LB, have him play with Sims, draft a LB that can play somewhere early on, and hope Dizon pans out for the 4th LB or something.

The Lions can go a long way towards fixing their D that way with one lineman, one LB and one corner drafted in their first 5 picks.

Somewhere in there draft an offensive lineman, and use the 5th pick on whatever; hell even a QB, and I think the Lions will have addressed a majority of their needs this offseason.

RIP said...

It does seem like the our d-lineman may fit better in a 3-4, although I personnelly prefer the 4-3. That being said, they should play whatever defense that fits thier personnel.

Kennaaye said...

I am not high on Frazier,Minny is great on the D front thanks to the Williams Wall and Jared Allen..any one here could coach them and be #1 in rush defense.

Minny was last,yes worse than Detroit in pass defense.

Frazier is a "Tampa 2" guy...sorry but I want nothing to do with that defense just as much as I want nothing to do with the WCO.

My hope is that they get Shwartz or Spagnuolo or Ryan,if they are gonna get a D coordinator a a head coach.

We scored enough points in alot of games to win,but when you give up 38 points(rough estimation...sure seemed like it) a game you will go 0-16!

Our new MM was a defensive guy,like Millen,let us all hope he GM's like one.

Ty said...

Excellent breakdown, Detfan. I completely agree with your comments on the separation of powers--the trend in the NFL is NOT to combine the jobs of head coach and GM; there's just too much work for one man, and the odds are very low that a Bill Cowher could both outcoach a Mike McCarthy AND outdraft a Ted Thompson consistently.