There are many challenges facing Lions players as they navigate a virtual offseason training program, one of which is trying to get to know new coaches in a virtual setting.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia added a number of new coaches to his staff this offseason, including two new coordinators in defensive coordinator Cory Undlin and special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs.
Those two are expected to have a major impact on the defense and special teams, respectively, and players and coaches are doing the best they can to learn each other from a distance.
"He's a fiery guy," veteran defensive end Trey Flowers said of Undlin. "He works well with Matt Patricia and I can tell he's about the same principles. He's about winning. He's about getting the job done. He's about players going out there and making plays."
Patricia and Undlin got their start in the NFL as young assistant coaches with New England in 2004.
Patricia stayed in New England and eventually worked his way up the Patriots coaching ladder before coming to Detroit to be the head coach in 2018.
After that 2004 season, Undlin went on to coach in Cleveland, Jacksonville, Denver, and most recently Philadelphia as their defensive backs coach, before reuniting with Patricia this offseason. Undlin's coached under a lot of different head coaches and in a number of different schemes, and that's one thing Patricia really liked about Undlin when deciding to hire him.
"I think he's a guy if you talk to enough people in the league and get to know him a bit there's a lot of respect for what he's been able to do," Patricia said of Undlin. "He does have much different experience than I do from a defensive (perspective), which is going to help everybody and give us different ideas, different opinions, different philosophies, different techniques. Things that will help us."
Flowers said it's already been made clear by Undlin that he has high expectations for turning around a defense that ranked toward the bottom of the league last year in every major statistical category.
"I'm very excited and looking forward to it," Flowers said of working with Undlin. "I know he's got a high expectation and set a high standard and anytime you have a coach like that that gets the most out of guys and demand highly of guys, it's always good to work with."
Flowers said Undlin and the players are still kind of going through the basics of the scheme, but he's excited to get into some of the new nuances Undlin will bring to the table, and can't wait to see how the identity of this revamped defense starts to take shape in the coming months.