the fellowship is complete

>> 2.12.2009

Killer of has the info on the Lions' complete coaching staff.

I think Steve Mariucci mentioned that between head coaches, coordinators, and assistants, the Lions hired and fired nearly eighty coaches from the time Millen took over until now.  I haven't done the research to be absolutely sure this is true, but I believe that every player that's been here more than two years since Millen took over has had to deal with a different position coach, coordinator, head coach, or all three.  That's really depressing--and it's no wonder that players like Roy, Kevin Jones, and Shaun Rogers learned to tune out the coaches!  The players with big salaries figured out that they'll be there a lot longer than anyone telling them what to do . . . so why do it?

As Schwartz made each of his coordinator hires, I said to myself (and to you all): this guy might not be the 'hot' hire, but he's had plenty of success as a coordinator, he's been a head coach, he believes in Schwartz and Schwartz's vision, and he's more than qualified to be a coordinator again.  It made me expect to see that level of expertise, that extensive resume, that level of "This is a wise and rock-solid hire" reaction to each position coach.  Like the QB, RB, WR, TE, and OL coaches all should each have had been an NFL coordinator, or college HC.  Well, with this crew, it ain't the case.

Looking over the offensive staff, it has Linehan's Pac-10/WAC/Mountain West fingerprints all over it.  The QB coach will be Jeff Horton, who was a 'special assistant' to Linehan in St. Louis, and the head coach at Nevada and UNLV before that.  The OL coach--a position we were all looking at hard for some improvement--will be George Yarno.  He's coached offensive lines in college for 17 years, including stints at Arizona State, LSU, and Washington State (all hotbeds of Gillman/Martz/Erickson coaching tree talent).  His one year of NFL experience?  Last year, as an assistant OL coach in . . .

. . . wait for it . . .

Tampa Bay.  Not exactly the bulletproof, unassailable, gosh-this-guy-will-spin-this-straw-into-gold hire we were hoping for there.

However, it's worth noting that not every position coach isn't meant to be a coordinator, just like every coordinator is not cut out to be a head coach.  The position coach is actually the main interface between the player and the coaching staff--that's the guy with the player in the classroom, in film sessions, in position drills.  On a day-to-day basis, the position coach is doing the teaching and coaching and guiding and player development, while the coordinators are working on the scheming, gameplanning, and execution.  As the Grandmaster himself said, as a head coach, you aren't coaching the players--you're coaching the coaches.  Therefore, for a position coach, having encyclopedic X-and-Os knowledge is nice, but not a requirement--and as we saw with Martz and Stanton, having a guy who thinks he's a bigger deal than he is might not be in the best interests of the player.  What's most important in a position coach is his ability to work with players, and his ability to work with the coordinator and head coach.

I look to this line from Jim Colletto's farewell interview:

"I had a talk with Jim and he said he wanted someone who was going to be here (for more than one year)," Colletto said today. Colletto, who has one year left on his deal, planned to retire following the 2009 season.

This speaks volumes about the staff the Grandmaster is trying to put together.  He himself hired a strong right hand in Guntherball, and a strong left hand in Linehan.  Then, he allowed them to pick position coaches and assistants that would make THEM comfortable and let THEM perform at their best, rather than a bunch of recently-fired coordinators who will want to help stir the soup.  You know what they say about too many chefs in the kitchen . . .

But above all, it looks like Schwartz wants to build a staff that will stay together.  Linehan said it in his introductory presser: he's sick of moving.  He wants to settle down.  He turned down offers from franchises in better on-field positions, to work with a man whose vision he believed in and who he could be happy working for.  Gunther is at a point in his career where he'd like to cement his legacy as a DC under a man who he deeply respects.  None of these position coaches are "hot names" who are going to be moving on as quickly as they arrived, changing nothing while they're here (Scott Loeffler, I'm looking at you).  It's hard to get excited about most of these hires--but with luck, they'll prove to be a group that can provide the professionalism and continuity this franchise has desperately lacked for so long.


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