I'm sure that most of you have seen at this point some kind of listing on the assistant coaches that the Lions have hired, but who are they? Where are they from? Are they competent, good backgrounds, or were they the guy in charge of laying down tracks for the Lionels?
Never Fear! The intrepid Nubsnobber has some comments, and I did some digging yesterday to find what I could on your "new" Detroit Lions coaches as well.
OFFENSE- Scott Linehan (OC), Todd Downing (Offensive Quality Control) Shawn Jefferson (receivers), Sam Gash (running backs), Jeff Horton (hears a Who) (quarterbacks), Tim Lappano (TE's), George Yarno (O-Line).
DEFENSE- Gunther Cunningham (DC), Don Clemens (assistant DC/quality control), Matt Burke (linebackers), Bob Karmelowicz (D-line), Kris Kocurek (Dline assistant), Tim Walton (Dbacks), Daron Roberts (Dbacks assistant)
SPECIAL TEAMS- Kwan w/ Brad Banta (special teams assistant coach).
WEIGHT ROOM GURUS: Jason Arapoff (coordinator of physical development) and Malcom Blacken (strength and conditioning).
The Lions web site has bios on ALL of the listed coaches.
Don Clemens has been with the Lions for 25 years. I don't like strength coaches (or former ones) who do not look like they have chewed through steel. He looks too happy to be a quality control coach as the Lions had NO quality last year that is worth repeating. He must make good coffee.
Matt Burke (ouch) looks like Schwartz's coffee maker from Tennessee. Comes from the Titans D-staff with little coaching experience; seems more like a film, research, study guy.
Bob Karmelowicz Very good d line coach who is in charge of coaching--D line. After a skip in Houston, he reunites with THE GUN. They coached together in KC from 1997-2000.
Kris Kocurek A young, up and coming coach who has coached at the college level coaching---D linemen. This hire also makes sense even though he doesn't have much pro experience.
Tim Walton is especially impressive for only being 37. He worked with LSU, Miami, and Memphis as a DB coach. Memphis??? What a powerhouse in college football...the Memphis Tigers. But if you look at the turnaround that program has done in one year (all of which was attributed to their pass defense), you can see he's an up-and-comer and has had terrific talent at LSU and Miami. He was at the "U" for three years, and worked with a bunch of pro players.
Daron Roberts is a really weird, Schwartz-like mind bender. Law school grad (Harvard), student body President (Texas), and a want-to-be politician. Spent last two years with Kansas City.
Todd Downing is a closet-Vikqueen fan as he grew up in Minnesota. Followed Linehan over from St. Louis where he was the DEFENSIVE quality control coach. Again, he must really make good coffee and know how to work the opaque projector.
Sam Gash He's back. And Sam will bring good continuity to the young one, Kevin Smith.
Jeff Horton (Sorry, the kids were watching Horton so it fit). He comes over from the Rams as well (past two years), but also taught in college with Wisconsin before that. Maybe a run on Bollinger as a back up???
Shawn Jefferson He's back. Shawn will need to help tutor and mentor someone else for CJ. Glad to see him returning.
Tim Lappano Interesting choice. He has twice worked in the NFL as a backs coach ('Hawks and Niners), but has spent three years in hell with Ty Willingham at Washington. He does have good experience as a coach and is well-rounded. He was the OC when the Oregon State Beavers started claiming big bowl appearances in 2000-2002.
George Yarno was the assistant offensive line coach last year for Tampa. Before that...he coached linemen at various colleges around the country. Yarno looks like a good addition.
Brad Banta former Lions tight end who graduated from USC. He is back this year to hold Stan Kwan's clipboard.
Jason Arapoff very good strength coach, one of the best in the league and a very knowledgeable person.
Malcolm Blacken good to see Malcolm back as well. He and Arapoff have run the Lions strength and conditioning department for 8 years going and do a phenomenal job. [If it ain't broke...]
I think the Lions did a good job hiring a well-rounded staff. There are a few funny, interesting choices but top-to-bottom, this looks like a good staff. Better yet, they appear to communicate well between themselves. We'll see how well they do as the season progresses.
I also found a few tidbits here and there on the Lions' new coaching staff.
Don Banks did a nice overall piece (Lions are at the end) on chances for each new coach this year.
Why is Stan Kwan back? -- Well, other than the reasons I have mentioned before, and essentially without a returner AND a "just get it to the 20" coach -- Check out these links as to why Stan Kwan is still with the team. The Football outsiders had the Lions Special Team ranked #14 and Rick Gosselin had them ranked #19. All things considered, that is a heck of an accomplishment for an 0-16 team, and with the players and limitations he was saddled with. I'm interested to see what he can do when fully backed, and apparently so is Schwartz.
Here is some more information on Tim Walton, who does seem to be bringing a lot to the table, including his Memphis Bio.
Birkett brings up that all of the coaches are bound by some kind of ties -- albeit pretty loosely, especially compared to son-in-law defensive coordinator and his father as a quality coach. Of course, isn't that what you want, at least a little? I mean, coaches don't just magically appear. After I read through this again, it appeared to me that for the most part those ties seem pretty fleeting -- and I'd hazard to say there are a couple hundred coaches active in teh league right now who have closer ties to the coaches than this, and aren't employed by the Lions. Sometimes, when you're looking to prove something, you find ways to prove it. If you're looking to disprove it, you come to that conclusion too...
Finally, here is a great piece from NFL.com highlighting Scott Linehan, the new OC, and why he thinks that the Lions offense will become a perennial force to be reckoned with having Linehan pulling the strings. One important note, and something I've often talked about, is that not every coordinator has what it takes to be a Head Coach. For some, the coordinator is the niche where they not only thrive, but excel beyond others. Linehan has ALWAYS been a great OC wherever he has been -- he just wasn't so great at being a HC. Another example? Marty Mornhinweg -- anyone want to disagree that he calls some great games for the Philly offense? Cunningham, the new DC has typically done well in that role, not so well at HC. There are other examples as well (Mike Nolan; Norv Turner is a much better coordinator, looking over his career, than HC even if he is currently one -- for now.)
I have to agree that top to bottom, the Lions have put together a heck of a staff! Tomorrow, I'll put a lot more details I dug up on Shack Harris, the new personnel guy. Then it is back into FA and the draft.