The 2009 Detroit Lions have gone through a complete overall from the 0-16 team of last season. The most important changes were to the coaching staff. Three guys have been given the keys to a team that is long, long overdue for a change in record,
It is in no way an easy task to turn around 0-16. For anyone to take on such a responsibility, they may need a head check.
However with a draft that has brought the likes of Matthew Stafford, Brian Pettigrew and Louis Delmas along with the aqusistions of veterans Larry Foote, Julian Peterson and Grady Jackson - the Lions are going in the right direction to winning back to the Motor City.
Jim Schwartz - Head Coach
The Schwartz as he is affectionately called now in Detroit has already endeared himself to the fans. His appearance on a local hard rock station's morning show (101.1 WRIF) proved he wants to fit in with a fan base tired of the Marinelli cliches.
The former defensive coordinator of the Titans has earned his shot to turn around one of the NFL's worst cellar dwellers.
The former linebacker for the Georgetown Hoyas has risen up the ranks of positions in football.
Once he joined the Titans in 1999, he continued his defensive assistant role initially. However he soon took over the linebackers and oversaw the 3rd down defense.
In 2001, he took over the Titan defense and has made stars out of the likes of Jevon Kearse, Keith Bullock, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Albert Haynesworth. Having such a list of players succed makes him the ideal guy to turn around the entire Lions.
Scott Linehan - Offensive Coordinator
His claim to fame was the offensive coordinator of the Vikings (2002-2004) while Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss were both there. His play-calling made this tandem one of the best in football.
Now in the same role with the Lions, he has Culpepper/Stafford at QB and playing the Moss role—Calvin Johnnson. Such an opportunity to make a new tandem dominate the NFL will make up for his forgettable tenure as head coach of the Rams (2006-2008).
His start in football was as a quarterback at Idaho (1984-1986) during Dennis Ericcson's first head coaching tenure there. He lasted one season as a QB with the Dallas Cowboys before starting his coaching career.
He tried first with coaching the receivers at Idaho. However coaching quarterbacks was his calling as he served the quarterback coach role then for UNLV, back at Idaho, Washington ( receivers too) and then at Louisville prior to joining the Vikings.
Gunter Cunningham - Defensive Coordinator
The elder statesman of the new look Lions coaching staff, Cunningham has been everywhere and anywhere. His coaching career began in 1969 as the defensive line coach with the Oregon Ducks.
He would also serve as the defensive line coach with Arkansas, Stanford, California, CFL-Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Colts, Chargers and Raiders. With Cal, Tiger-Cats, Colts, as well as the Cheifs, he would serve as coach of the linebackers.
His tenure with the Chiefs was done twice (1995-2000) and (2004-2008). In 1999, he would head coach the Chiefs until his departure in 2000, to which he would join the Titans while Schwartz was there.
Upon his return to the Chiefs, he would serve as defensive coordinator. True the Chiefs have not done the greatest in his time there.
However having someone of his experience allows Schwartz enough leeway to focus more on the head coaching role with the Lions as opposed to constant eavesdropping on a rookie. Cunningham will establish his voice to all on defense that 0-16 will be forgotten.
That distinctive voice has inspired Scott "The Gator" Anderson to come up with a quality imitation for 97.1 The Ticket's Karsch and Anderson early afternoon call-in show. The Ticket is the flagship station for the Lions.
The fact that Linehan and Cunningham have already been coaches will aid Schwartz in his first try as head coach. They will work with him to not just getting him used to being in charge but also in dealing with the lifestyle a head coach must get used to in order to succeed in the NFL.
These three coaches will make the decisions for the team in not just play-calling but also in how the team is presented. Gone will be the Marinelli cliched press conferences and questions of nepotism between head coach and coordinator.
Arrived is a new attitude that has created such an interest in the team that they are getting front page coverage while the Red Wings have returned to the Stanley Cup Finals and the auto industry is in a nosedive.
The Lions are in the process of holding practices now and the city of Detroit and their fans actually care again about what the Honolulu Blue are doing in Allen Park. The roar may not be in full volume yet, but the purr is being heard.