Ties that bind
I point this out not to pick on the Lions it's the way things are done in the NFL and, for that matter the world; you hire people you know and trust, either directly or through others you know and trust but because it's hypocritical now for the same people who banged on Rod Marinelli for hiring ex-Tampa Bay assistants to praise Jim Schwartz for putting together the staff that he did: Every non-holdover assistant on the Lions' new staff has deep-rooted ties to Schwartz, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan or defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham.
Linehan spent the last three years as head coach in St. Louis, where new quarterbacks coach Jeff Horton served as his offensive assistant. Offensive quality-control assistant Todd Downing also worked with Linehan the last three seasons at a variety of positions, and tight-ends coach Tim Lappano coached at Idaho when Linehan was a player there two decades ago.
Cunningham comes from Kansas City. So does assistant secondary coach and Harvard Law grad Daron Roberts. Defensive-line coach Bob Karmelowitz spent the last three years in Houston, but he was in in Kansas City for nine previous seasons, including six during Cunningham's tenure as defensive coordinator and head coach.
Assistant defensive-line coach Kris Kocurek didn't coach in K.C., but he played briefly as a defensive tackle for the Titans in 2001, when Schwartz was defensive coordinator and Cunningham assistant head coach. Linebackers coach Matt Burke spent five seasons with the Titans, the last three as a defensive quality-control assistant working alongside Schwartz.
Offensive-line coach George Yarno and secondary coach Tim Walton have less direct ties to Schwartz and his coordinators, but both worked under former Michigan State coach Nick Saban at LSU. Linehan spent one year with Saban in Miami, and Schwartz and Saban worked together for two years with the Cleveland Browns.
I think Schwartz did well in assembling the staff that he did. Cunningham is aggressive and a proven motivator. Linehan is a bright offensive mind with new perspective from his failed stint as a head coach. Their assistants should be in lockstep with what they're teaching and that's a must as the Lions rebuild. But, as Marinelli and plenty of others can attest, that doesn't guarantee success in the NFL.
Labels: Bob Karmelowitz, Daron Roberts, George Yarno, Gunther Cunningham, Jeff Horton, Jim Schwartz, Kris Kocurek, Matt Burke, Nick Saban, Rod Marinelli, Scott Linehan, Tim Lappano, Tim Walton, Todd Downing