Detroit Lions New DL Coach Jim Washburn Could be a Difference Maker

By Chris Katje
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Apart from the exciting free agent player signings, the Detroit Lions will have an amazing addition to their 2013 NFL roster. That addition is Jim Washburn, who will be a defensive coach for the Lions. Washburn brings an extensive amount of experience and a resume that has some of the best defensive players of the last two decades.

Washburn was a defensive coordinator and defensive line coach in college before making the jump to the NFL. From 1999 to 2010, Washburn was the defensive line coach for the Tennessee Titans. The last two seasons, Washburn was the DL coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. After a falling out with the Eagles, that included him being called a “cancer” by other Eagles staff members, Washburn finds himself with a new home for 2013.

During his time at Tennessee, Washburn helped shape the career of Jevon Kearse. The rookie defensive end put up 14.5 sacks during his rookie season and had 11.5 and 10.0 the following two seasons, all with Washburn’s help. Kearse ended his career with 74 sacks in 133 games played. Former Detroit Lion Kyle Vanden Bosch played under Washburn as a Titan. In 2007, Vanden Bosch had 12.0 sacks, ranking 11th in the league.

The familiarity with Washburn could help many get acquainted to his style. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham both worked with Washburn as members of the Titans coaching squad. Lions offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn is the son of the legendary DL coach.

Jason Babin, who played under Washburn at Tennessee and Philadelphia was third in sacks in 2011 (18.0) and sixth in 2010 (12.5). The 2011 Eagles squad led the league in sacks, thanks to Washburn’s coaching and Babin.

It is disappointing that Kyle Vanden Bosch is no longer a member of the Lions. During his time in Tennessee, Vanden Bosch was Washburn’s favorite player. The two had a great chemistry and Vanden Bosch saw his best years under Washburn’s coaching. Former Titans DE Jason Jones will get a chance to reunite with Washburn. Jones was signed as a free agent by the Lions and will be a familiar face for Washburn, who coached him from 2008 to 2011.

With defense being one of the biggest areas of improvement needed for the 2013 season, this was the best possible move to bring in Washburn. The Lions now also have separate coaches that can break the DT and DE groups into drills at practices. Look for the Lions inexperienced defensive line to surprise some people and put up great numbers. Maybe that Ziggy Ansah first round pick wasn’t so bad after all.

Chris Katje is the featured Detroit Lions writer for Rant Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter or Google Plus.

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