Detroit Lions are hoping coaching changes add new perspective to team challenges

Posted Feb 13, 2013

The Detroit Lions have enjoyed coaching continuity the past four years, but bringing in fresh perspectives can also have its benefits

Jim WashburnThe Detroit Lions have valued continuity within their coaching staff with little change since 2009. That kind of continuity has its benefits, but there is also something to be said for having new ideas, fresh voices and different coaching styles infuse some energy into both a staff and a meeting room.

There has already been significant movement within head coach Jim Schwartz’s coaching staff this offseason with the exit of running backs coach Sam Gash, receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, offensive line coach George Yarno, special teams coordinator Danny Crossman and most recently Tim Walton, who leaves his post as the Lions' secondary/third down package coach to take the defensive coordinator job with the St. Louis Rams.

The team has moved around some existing pieces to fill the holes and hired new assistants Curtis Modkins (running backs), Jim Washburn (defensive assistant), Bobby Johnson (tight ends) and John Bonamego (special teams).

"There are times where adding a different perspective, changing a perspective, bringing a little different skill set, changing up the mix of voices whether that’s in a meeting room in the game-plan preparation or on the field itself, can make a positive difference,” Lions president Tom Lewand told of the recent coaching changes.

“No different than adding another voice in the personnel-evaluation process. Sometimes just a different perspective, a different way of looking at things.

"And I think those opportunities – both on the coaching side and the personnel side – presented themselves and I applaud both Martin (Mayhew) and Jim (Schwartz) for embracing those opportunities to bring a little different perspective to the challenges that we face.”

Those challenges are significant following a disappointing season that will see 23 players become unrestricted free agents next month.

Mayhew immediately went to work to improve the personnel department with the hire of former Denver Broncos general manager Brian Xanders, who joins the front office as a senior personnel executive to assist with talent evaluation and set up an in-house scouting system.

Schwartz added Modkins, who has a very good resume when it comes to the success his offenses have had running the football. That, as most know, has been an issue for the Lions going on a decade now.

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

"Jim's always thinking about ways to get better and I think that the opportunity that he saw there – the (coaches) that left us are good coaches and I have a lot of respect for those guys – sometimes it's just the right fit at the right time,” Lewand said. “Clearly Jim is focused on getting maximum effort out of our entire roster – all three phases of the game.”