The Detroit Lions fans are scratching at the walls of the rubber room constructed around them by former head coach Jim Schwartz, as their anticipation turns to full on obsession. That said, it’s a good thing the Lions are taking their time, and compared to the rest of the NFL, it’s been a very long time. The new head coach in this upcoming season could very well determine whether or not the Lions can get to the Super Bowl during this slowly closing window of time. They’re playing some of the best talent in the league on the offensive side, and lots of talent on the defensive line could be untapped to their full potential with the right coach. There are a few key things the Lions need to get out of their new head coach, whoever it might be.
Everyone talks about the lack of discipline on the Lions, how it’s been an epidemic for years, and how it seemingly grew to its worst level with The Schwartz. It was hard for Lions fans to watch countless penalties, missed tackles, and offensive blunders go seemingly unnoticed and unpunished by Schwartz on the sideline. This is something that needs to change for sure, but discipline goes a lot deeper than the sideline of a game. It needs to start in the offseason training camps, move into preseason, continue into weekly practices, and never waiver throughout the season. By the middle of the season, when a player makes a mistake, the head coach should not have to say anything, but they should and will.
Also, with offensive weapons like the Lions have, there needs to be some creativity involved. The Lions can really amp up their scoring ability if the right mind comes in and utilizes the weapons to their full potential. Not only that, they need to realize the weaknesses in the offense. The Lions need to play within the talent and skillsets of their players. Thankfully, it’s a wide range, but there are plenty of things the Lions should exploit more, and also plenty of things they should stop forcing.
For example, hitting the tight end underneath for three or four yards on first down for some teams is great and has served the Lions well when they had no running game. Now, with varied talent at the tight end position and tons of talent at running back, those four of five yards could turn into 20 yards or touchdowns on short passes or runs. The slant pass was underutilized, the screen pass was underutilized, and play-action draw handoffs were underutilized. The Lions should have every defense tired and confused by the time they reach the red zone. That’s what actual good coaching could bring to the Lions, and that’s why time must be taken to find the right man for the job.