The Detroit Lions' Kool-Aid Is Tasting Good Right Now

Chris AugdahlContributor IJanuary 23, 2009

Is it me or is the Detroit Lions Kool-Aid tasting pretty good right now?

Up to this point, I'm impressed with what has transpired in the early stages of the Detroit Lions front office and coaching staff. With the trade of Roy Williams for draft picks, knowing that Roy would leave after the 2008 season. 

To the extensive search and interview process for a new head coach, acquiring probably the top one on the list of coaches available.

So far, the coaches are saying the right things, is that good or bad? I'm very impressed with head coach Jim Schwarz announcing that he will be a "true" head coach in that he will not call plays on the defense, he will leave that up to his defensive coordinator. 

"I'm going to have enough on my plate," Schwartz said. "I think the head coach's role is to manage the game and his role is to set a clear vision of what he wants the gameplan to be. There might be a few situations in the game where you say, as the head coach, 'Get me this right here." Otherwise, Schwartz said he will "defer to the experts.''

One of the toughest jobs of a head coach is handling the strategy in pressure situations, including clock management, timeouts, review challenges, fake kicks, and coin flip strategies. Schwartz has continued to work on his gameday strategies, right up to his final days as a coordinator.

"There are a lot of things you study," he said. "We'd look at the play-by-plays (and ask), 'Where do you take your timeouts?' We've done a lot of study on how do you conserve one or two seconds. Do you take your timeout before the two-minute warning or right after?' "

Another thing I'm impressed with is they have mentioned some of the young players like Ernie Sims and Cliff Avril on defense many times in the past week when talking about their defensive plan and how to go about using these players to their best abilities.

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said when defensive end Cliff Avril came out of Purdue last year, he thought he was "a special athlete" with "the ability to rush the passer."

"He's undersized, but you have to put him in the right position," Cunningham said.

Cunningham said when linebacker Ernie Sims came out of Florida State in 2006, he thought he was "a human dynamo."

"You have to make sure you protect guys like that so they can make plays," Cunningham said.

Asked if the Lions' defensive players were undersized, Cunningham said: "Yeah, when I look at them, there are a lot of guys on the shorter side, and so what you have to do is you have to see what would be the best scheme to put them in and what would be the best opportunity for us to win. ...

"You have to be able to make some guys that may not measure up physically size-wise make plays that other people that may be bigger can't make. You use a guy, an undersized linebacker, as a blitzer. You have to have the ability to cover them long enough for those blitzers to get there.

"So there's a lot of strategies involved and a lot of history of what's good and bad with other teams having gone through the same situation."

These above statements are examples of how the new coaching staff is smart enough to understand the team makeup and build around it.  Not try and stuff a crusty old Tampa two defense or West Coast offense on players that cant handle it.

Keep up the good work Schwarz and crew and Lions Fans fill up your glasses with that Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid its tasting good right now!!