The Lions added yet another great Coordinator/not-so-great-ex-HC to their staff when they confirmed today that, surprisingly, Scott Linehan had agreed to be the OC for the Detroit Lions!
(the article I linked to is on the detroitlions.com site, and is the best one I saw with some great qutoes from Schwartz on philosphies and Linehans background, and reasons for taking the Detroit job -- It is a must read!! On a related note, every time Shcwartz opens his mouth, you just can't help but get more optimistic about this team. He isn't feeding lines of bull, or cliches -- he is just dosing it out straight up. Love it!)
This makes two coordinators cut from the same background -- great success in the past as a coordinator, made the jump to HC and it went okay but not great, and now are back at the coordinator position where they excel. Let's hope they do so with Detroit!
Most Lions fans (at least those who actually follow our division rivals as well) should be very familiar with Linehan. he was the one designing and calling the playings back when Minnesota had Randy Moss and Culpepper in MVP form racking up the points. If you took the current Minnesota Defense, and that offense -- put them together and you'd have...well...umm...the New England Patriots, I guess.
He knows how to utilize a large one-of-a-kind WR (Moss-CJ) while utilizing a strong running game to make defenses pay for taking away the long ball. I really like this fit, and think his style of balanced but potent offense pairs perfectly with Cunningham's preferred pressure D. In other words, while both are somewhat high-risk at times, they can also bail each other out.
I must admit that thus far, I am blown away by the quality and harmony in the moves and hiring by the new Lions front office -- from the coaching search, their low-key search for a personnel man, and their in-season trades and moves player wise.
Schwartz, and even Mayhew/Lewand, must have some kind of respect around the league for the Lions to not only have a real shot at, but to be signing the coaches they are signing. These are not guys that had no other options. KC wanted Cunningham to stay, but he basically badgered them into letting him leave(which they did, especially after it became apparent that Pioli was going to be firing Herm Edwards shortly.) More than one team not only wanted Linehan -- but either implicitly or explicitly offered him the job of OC!
He turned down the 49ers. They are in a rebuilding phase, and have been for a few years now although they are stuck in the same kind of Neutral Detroit has been for the past few decades. However, he also is reputed to have turned down an open invitation to be the OC for the Tampa Bay Buccaners. They also have an up-and-coming young coach, but are at a spot much further along in development than the rock-bottom Lions. Perennial challengers to enter the playoffs, most would consider that the best spot of the three to go, given the choice.
I even saw a headline that said "Linehan turns down 49ers and Bucs to coach...Detroit?!"
ROFL at that one -- such is the respect Detroit gets; and deservedly so after 0-16. However, what did they expect Mayhew to do? Run out and try to be worse than Millen? (which would involve going 0-16 twice, really, is the only way I could see that perceptually)
No, the Lions -- thus far -- have been doing everything right this Ifseason from the moment Lewand and Mayhew were named to their posts. They knew who and what they wanted to go after, and how -- and have been executing.
Will their run continue? Will they nail the draft and additional coaches as well as they have so far? Will they excel in FA moves? Those questions, of course, are at this time unanswered and unanswerable -- that why I call this the If-season.
If they do....or If they don't....
So far it looks good, but so did the Lions in the first half of 2007. There is a lot of Ifseason left.
Just a funny thought on the nepotism front -- look at who Josh McDaniels, the former-NE-OC-Turned Broncos coach hired...
Not a good omen for Denver, IMO. Not at all...