With his coaching staff now in place, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz spoke to beat reporters down at the Senior Bowl for the first time about some of those offseason changes.
The team did a little maneuvering with some existing coaches after the season and also hired former Buffalo Bills assistant Curtis Modkins to coach running backs and also be the run game coordinator, former Jacksonville Jaguars special teams coordinator John Bonamego to be their new special teams coordinator and former Jaguars assistant Bobby Johnson to coach the tight ends.
Schwartz promoted former offensive line assistant Jeremiah Washburn to offensive line coach and moved Tim Lappano from coaching the tight ends to coaching
"Jeremiah was a guy we brought in four years ago to develop as an offensive line coach and he's been ready for a long time," Schwartz said.
"He's got a very good background in scouting and has combined that with coaching and he has the respect of the players. I think that will go seamlessly.
"(Lappano's) whole career he had coached skill guys whether it was quarterbacks, wide receivers or running backs. Got him back into a more traditional role for him."
For the past three seasons, Modkins was the offensive coordinator/running backs coach for the Buffalo Bills.
During his tenure at Buffalo, he developed a dynamic backfield featuring C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. The Bills averaged 4.7 yards per carry over those three seasons, the fourth-best rushing average in the NFL.
In 2012, Modkins' offense ranked fourth in rushing average (5.0) and sixth in rushing yards (2,217).
Prior to joining the Bills, he was running backs coach for the Cardinals (2009) and Chiefs (2008).
"He handles a lot of the offensive coordination (at Buffalo) plus some of the play calling last year," Schwartz said of Modkins. "To get a guy that had some experience as a coordinator, I was comfortable with him coaching a lot of different positions.
"I thought his best role would be running backs and I thought he did a great job with Spiller last year and Fred Jackson and I was really excited for the opportunity to be able to get him on this staff."
Schwartz said Modkins is on track to one day be a head coach in the NFL.
"I've been very impressed with him so far," he said. "He brought that kind of offensive coordinator command to his interview and spoke very knowledgably of wide receivers, running backs and tight ends."
Bonamego takes over a special teams unit that was one of the worst in the league this year and became the first team in NFL history to allow kick- and punt-return touchdowns in back-to-back games.
The Jaguars ranked sixth in the NFL in net punt average (40.8 ypp) under Bonamego in 2012, but finished toward the bottom of the league in both kick- and punt-return average this past season, which is something the Lions struggled with, too.
Bonamego is a Michigan native (Mount Pleasant) who played wide receiver and quarterback at Central Michigan. He replaces Danny Crossman, who took the same job with the Buffalo Bills.
"When I hired Danny a few years ago we talked about a lot of different things and he said the only place (he) would ever want to be able to go is if Doug Marrone ever got a head coaching job," Schwartz said.
"That's about his best friend in life. They are godfathers to each others kids and been in each others weddings, and though Danny was under contract for another year, it was only right to allow that move."
Marrone was named the Bills new head coach after the season.
"We were very fortunate to get a guy as qualified as John," Schwartz said of Bonamego. "He has a lot of experience as well as a lot of experience in the NFC North. (A) very good teacher. Very enthusiastic."
Johnson coached tight ends with the Jaguars last season and was an assistant offensive line coach the previous two seasons with the Bills. He also coached the offensive line at Indiana in 2005-09 where he helped develop NFL linemen Roger Saffold (Rams) and James Brewer (Giants).
"He has an offensive line background," Schwartz said of Johnson. "A little bit different than what Lappano brought to tight ends with more of a skill background. Bobby has been an offensive line coach.
"As he moves forward, particularly coaching
Schwartz said the goal this offseason when it came to his staff was to identify the best coaches available and then try and find the best spots where they would fit among his staff. They didn't target coaches with any particular specialty.
Schwartz said he'd talked to a number different Detroit Lions' players during the process.
"I just thought changes needed to be made," he said. "All those guys that left are very good coaches ... but I just thought we needed a change."