COACHES
Kris Kocurek
Defensive Line

Biography

Kris Kocurek enters his eighth season as defensive line coach after joining the Lions as Detroit’s assistant defensive line coach in 2009. He had spent the previous season coaching defensive line at Stephen F. Austin State.

Kris Kocurek enters his eighth season as defensive line coach after joining the Lions as Detroit’s assistant defensive line coach in 2009. He had spent the previous season coaching defensive line at Stephen F. Austin State.

Kocurek further established himself as a molder of young talent along the defensive line as nine different defensive linemen recorded at least 0.5 sacks in 2014 en route to the Lions berth in the NFC Wild Card. As a unit, the defensive line accounted for 34 of the team’s 42 sacks in 2014. That trend continued into 2015, as defensive ends Ezekiel Ansah (14.5) and Devin Taylor (7) combined for 21.5 sacks, the most for Lions teammates since 1999. They became the first pair of Lions teammates to combine for 20+ sacks since DE Robert Porcher (15.0) and DE Tracy Scroggins (8.5) together recorded 23.5 in 1999.

  • Under Kocurek’s tutelage since 2010, the Lions rank in the top two in the NFL in multiple defensive line statistical categories, including sacks (2nd; 199.0), sack yards (1,387.5), tackles for loss (303), quarterback hits (485) and forced fumbles (49).

 

2015: Ansah developed into one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL in 2015 under Kocurek’s guidance, finishing third in the league in sacks with 14.5, trailing only Houston’s J.J. Watt (17.5) and Oakland’s Khalil Mack (15.0). Ansah's +7 sack improvement from 2014 (7.5) is tied with Houston's Whitney Mercilus for the fifth-best sack increase from 2014 to 2015. Taylor’s +6 sack improvement (1.0) tied for 10th-best during that span.

  • Kocurek propelled Ansah to his first-career Pro Bowl nod as well as an Associated Press Second Team All-Pro selection following his career year. Ansah’s 30 sacks in his first three NFL seasons are the most by any Lions player, surpassing DT Ndamukong Suh’s 22.0 from 2010-12.
  • The Lions defense finished in the Top 10 in the NFL in sacks for the second-consecutive year, ranking tied for seventh in 2015 with 43.0. The team's 43.0 sacks in 2015 also tied for fifth all-time in Lions single-season history.
  • In 2015, the Lions defensive line generated 82.0 total tackles for loss or no gain (3rd in NFL), which includes 34.5 sacks (2nd in NFL), 44.0 tackles for loss or no gain against the rush (8th in NFL) and eight forced fumbles (tied for 2nd in NFL).

 

2014: The 2014 Lions defensive line was among the best in the league in forcing opponents into negative plays (sacks and tackles for loss on rushing plays). Detroit ranked fifth in sacks by defensive line (34.0), tied for third in TFL on rushing plays by defensive line (26) and second in total negative plays by defensive line with 60.

  • The 2014 Lions tied an NFL record for the most games (14) holding opponents to less than 100 rushing yards in a season. The 14 games limiting opponents to less than 100 rushing yards is also a franchise record.
  • Under Kocurek’s tutelage, DT Ndamukong Suh, during his five seasons in Detroit (2010-14), set the official team career sacks record (since 1992) for defensive tackles with 36.0, earned four Pro Bowl nods (2011, 2013-15), named AP first-team All Pro twice (2010, 2013) and was the 2010 NFL AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.
  • Kocurek was also instrumental in the development of third-year DE George Johnson in 2014. After joining the team as a free agent following brief stints with Tampa Bay and Minnesota, Johnson finished third on the team in sacks with 6.0 and emerged as a force in the defensive end rotation, particularly in third-down situations.
  • In his first season with the Lions after being drafted fifth overall, Ansah led the team in sacks in 2013 with eight, the second most sacks by a Lions rookie since DT Ndamukong Suh had 10 in 2010. Ansah recorded three multi-sack games, posting two sacks at Washington (9/22), vs. Tampa Bay (11/24) and vs. Green Bay (11/24). His eight sacks also led all NFL rookie players.   
  • The Lions defensive line had their best outing of the 2013 season on Thanksgiving Day (11/28) vs. Green Bay, sacking Packers QB Matt Flynn seven times, forcing a fumble and recording a safety.
  • In 2010, Kocurek’s first season as the Lions’ defensive line coach, Detroit had the most-improved pass rush in the NFL. Even though teams threw the ball nine times less against the Lions in 2010 season than they did in 2009, the Lions picked up 18 more sacks, which accounted for an increase of 3.28 sacks per pass play.

 

In 2009, Kocurek helped rookie DT Sammie Hill, who was drafted out of Stillman College in the fourth round (115th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, emerge as an opening day starter. He finished the season with 26 tackles (14 solo) and two fumble recoveries in 13 games while making the transition from a small college prospect to NFL starter (12 starts).

In 2007, Kocurek served as the assistant head coach and defensive line coach at West Texas A&M where he helped coach the Buffaloes to the 2007 Lone Star Conference title as well as the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs. The Buffaloes became one of the top defensive units in the LSC and led the conference in scoring defense.

Under Kocurek’s guidance, Brandon Swain became one of the top defensive players at the Division II level and was a 2007 First-Team Daktronics, AFCA and AP Little All-American and conference defensive lineman of the year after recording 24.5 tackles for losses and 14 sacks.

Kocurek served as the defensive line coach at Texas A&M-Commerce in 2006 and helped guide the Lions’ top-ranked defensive unit, which finished No. 1 in total and scoring defense.

For two seasons (2004-05) Kocurek served as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M-Kingsville and coached the Javelinas’ defensive line where he was active in the development of Wilbert Martin, who was twice selected as First Team All-LSC and was a free agent signee of the Baltimore Ravens.

Kocurek began his coaching career in 2003 as a student assistant at Texas Tech. While in Lubbock, he assisted with the defensive linemen and helped coach the Red Raiders to a 2003 Houston Bowl win over Navy.

Prior to coaching, Kocurek spent two years in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans (2002) and the Seattle Seahawks (2001) after being selected in the seventh round (237th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft by Seattle.

Kocurek was born November 15, 1978. He played collegiate football at Texas Tech and was a three-time All-Big 12 selection. As a senior, he was selected as team captain and named defensive player of the year.

 

KOCUREK’S COACHING BACKGROUND

Detroit Lions........................................................ 2009-

          Defensive Line.......................................................................... 2010-

          Assistant Defensive Line...................................................... 2009

Stephen F. Austin State.......................................... 2008

          Defensive Line............................................................................ 2008

West Texas A&M................................................... 2007

          Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line............................. 2007

Texas A&M-Commerce........................................... 2006

          Defensive Line............................................................................ 2006

Texas A&M-Kingsville....................................... 2004-05

          Graduate Assistant................................................................. 2004

Texas Tech............................................................ 2003

          Graduate Assistant................................................................. 2003

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