Detroit Lions announce coaching staff changes

Posted Jan 14, 2013

The Detroit Lions have hired Curtis Modkins as running backs coach/run game coordinator and Bobby Johnson as tight ends coach. Also, Tim Lappano will serve as wide receivers coach, Jeremiah Washburn will serve as offensive line coach and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman will not return

Allen Park, Mich. - The Detroit Lions announced today that they have hired Curtis Modkins as running backs coach/run game coordinator and Bobby Johnson as tight ends coach. Tim Lappano will serve as the team's wide receivers coach and Jeremiah Washburn will serve as offensive line coach.

The team also announced that Danny Crossman, who served as special teams coordinator, will not return.

Curtis Modkins enters his sixth year in the NFL and first with the Detroit Lions. For the past three seasons, Modkins was the offensive coordinator/running backs coach for the Buffalo Bills.

During his tenure at Buffalo, Modkins developed the Bills' dynamic backfield featuring Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. The Bills averaged 4.7 yards per attempt over those three seasons, the fourth best rushing average in the NFL. Spiller registered a 5.4 yards per carry average from 2010-12, second-best in the NFL, and Jackson's 4.5 average over the last three years is 14th best.

In 2012, Modkins coordinated the Bills offense that ranked fourth in rushing average (5.0) and sixth in rushing yards (2,217).

Two years ago (2011), Buffalo was fourth in the NFL (led AFC) with a 4.9-yard average, also fourth-best in Bills history and highest since 1975. Jackson (5.5 avg., 1st in AFC) and Spiller (5.2 avg., 5th in AFC) both finished the year with an average of 5.0-plus yards

In 2010, Buffalo was one of five AFC teams with a 3,000-yard passer and two players with 1,000 scrimmage yards (WR Stevie Johnson and Jackson).

Prior to joining the Bills, Modkins was the running backs coach for the Arizona Cardinals in 2009, and he entered the NFL as the running backs coach for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008.

From 2002-07, he worked at Georgia Tech, first as the school's defensive backs coach in 2002 and then as running backs coach from 2003-07. Modkins enjoyed a successful four-year tenure at New Mexico from 1998-2001 as the cornerbacks coach. He started his coaching career at his alma mater, Texas Christian University, where he served as a graduate assistant in 1995, secondary coach in 1996 and was tight ends coach in 1997.

Modkins was a three-time intern through the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship program. He worked with the following teams: Philadelphia Eagles (Head Coach Ray Rhodes) in 1997, Dallas Cowboys (Head Coach Chan Gailey) in 1999 and Pittsburgh Steelers (Head Coach Bill Cowher) in 2005.

Modkins was a three-year starter for TCU and a led the Horned Frogs in rushing from 1990-92. He finished his career third on the school's all-time rushing list with 2,763 yards and was twice named second team all-Southwest Conference. He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 1993 and earned his M.L.A. degree in 1997.

Bobby Johnson enters his fourth NFL season and first with the Lions after spending last year as the Jacksonville Jaguars tight ends coach. He was the assistant offensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills during his first two seasons (2010-11) in the NFL.

Overall, Johnson has 18 years of coaching experience including 15 on the collegiate level.

From 2005-09, Johnson was the offensive line coach at Indiana University where he developed two current NFL linemen in Rodger Saffold (St. Louis Rams 2010 2nd round selection) and James Brewer (New York Giants 2011 4th round selection).

Prior to his stint at Indiana, Johnson was an assistant coach at Miami (Ohio), his alma mater, from 1999-2004 including his final season as offensive line coach. He served as tight ends coach from 1999-2003. During his five-year tenure, the Red Hawks were 36-5 when outrushing the opponent.

At Miami, Johnson worked with eventual NFL draft picks Jacob Bell (Tennessee Titans 2004 5th round selection) and Alex Sulfsted (Kansas City Chiefs, 2001 6th round selection) along with free-agent signees Matt Brandt (Detroit Lions, 2004) and Ben Herrell (Carolina Panthers, 2004).

Johnson spent four years at the University of Akron, two as a graduate assistant (1995-96) and two as the Zips' defensive line coach (1997-98).

Johnson played offensive tackle at Miami (Ohio) and graduated with a degree in health appraisal and sport organization. During his playing career, Johnson was a three-year starter on the offensive line from 1992-94. A native of Akron, he was a standout lineman at Akron Hoban High School where he also lettered in track and field.

Tim Lappano has served as the Lions tight ends coach for the past four seasons and will coach the team's wide receivers in 2013. Before coming to Detroit, Lappano served four seasons (2005-08) as the offensive coordinator at the University of Washington. He is entering his 31st season as a coach and his eighth in the NFL.

Under Lappano, TE Brandon Pettigrew has been one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL since 2009. In back-to-back seasons, he broke and then re-set the team's single-season records for tight ends in both receptions (71 in 2010 and 83 in 2011) and receiving yards (722 in 2010 and 777 in 2011). He is the first tight end in Lions history to record 70 receptions in two different seasons and the first tight end with 80 catches.

In 2011, Pettigrew (5) combined with TE Tony Scheffler's career-high 6 touchdown receptions to become the second pair of Lions tight ends in team history to each register 5 touchdown catches each in a season (Hall of Fame TE Charlie Sanders and TE David Hill each recorded 5 touchdown receptions in 1975).

In 2009, Pettigrew led all rookie tight ends in receptions (30) and yards (346) despite being forced out of the lineup after 11 games with a season-ending knee injury.

Read more on Tim Lappano

Jeremiah Washburn enters his fifth season with the Detroit Lions and first as the team's offensive line coach. For the past four seasons (2009-12), Washburn was the Lions' assistant offensive line coach.

Over the past three seasons (since 2010), Washburn helped the offensive line unit as it registered the fourth lowest sacks per pass play percentage (4.3) in the League. In 2012, the Lions ranked fourth among NFL teams in sacks per pass play (3.8), allowing 29 sacks as the team set an NFL record with 740 attempts.

Read more on Jeremiah Washburn