The dawn of a new era is upon the Detroit Lions, but how much further will the regime change go?
Gone are Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn, the captains of a sinking ship that is Detroit football. After seasons of mediocre-at-best football, the organization is looking to rebuild the franchise and put a true competitor on the field. However, a few more key names remain on the coaching staff.
Darrell Bevell is now the interim head coach for the Lions, a title likely given due to his multiple years as offensive coordinator with the Vikings, Seahawks, and Lions. He has the most experience on the Lions’ coaching staff, but he also leads a lackluster offense. The team showed promise early in 2019, but everything has been downhill ever since. When you include being shutout by a middling Panthers defense, you have to wonder how safe his job is going forward. Is he just a stopgap?
Cory Undlin is in his rookie season as defensive coordinator for Detroit, but the longtime defensive backs coach has not had many positive moments so far in his tenure. Given that Patricia was a defense-orientated coach, it is fair to question how much of the defense’s struggles are due to Patricia or Undlin. Regardless, the secondary, in particular, has been a weakness for the team despite some promising talent in Jeff Okudah, Amani Oruwariye, and Tracy Walker. Given how specific Patricia’s scheme was, the next head coach might want to start anew at defensive coordinator.
Brayden Coombs is younger than five players on the team, but his youth has not been a detriment to his position as special teams coordinator. Although special teams is not a flashy aspect of football, it has been one of the few bright spots for the Lions. Punter Jack Fox is arguably one of the best in the league this year, and the coverage unit as a whole has been solid. Matt Prater has struggled at times, likely contributing to the Lions’ average ranked special teams by DVOA, but you would be hard pressed to blame Coombs for that.
With a new head coach and general manager on the horizon, will any of these three coordinators keep their job in Detroit?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Will the Lions have new coordinators in 2021?
My answer: I think only Coombs will remain in 2021. As you can probably guess from the writeup, I do not support Bevell or Undlin returning.
Bevell’s offense has struggled, with bright moments coming few and far between. The sheer stubbornness from the play calling is stunning; Adrian Peterson being the lead back for nearly half a season is asinine, despite the success of D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson. While star receiver Kenny Golladay has been injured, and the lack of depth is partly to blame on Bob Quinn, an offense with Matthew Stafford at the helm should not be as incompetent as it has been. I have my doubts that the offense will shine with Bevell under the interim head coach label.
Undlin is a tough coordinator to judge because of how horrendous the defense under Patricia has been. Despite the change from Paul Pasqualoni to Undlin, the defense is virtually the same—awful—as previous years, and that likely speaks to Patricia’s role in crafting it. At the same time, Undlin’s presence hasn’t changed anything on the defense, so how much faith do you have in his ability to craft a decent defense? The coming weeks, free from Patricia, will be telling.
Coombs is a near-lock to return in my eyes, but there is still uncertainty. Despite the success from the special teams unit, the new head coach and general manager might opt for some familiarity at the position. Alternatively, another team might give him a coordinator position, although it remains to be seen which side of the ball this would be on—he played wide receiver and defensive back at Miami (Ohio), and was solely an assistant with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Coombs has the most promise of the Lions’ coordinators and deserves the stay. Bevell and Undlin have produced mediocre results, and the new head coach ought to replace them.