With frustration mounting and no answers for the Detroit Lions rushing offense, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the coaching, not the players.
It’s pretty early to start talking coaching changes, but these sort of things happen. In what was essentially the middle of the 2015 season, the Detroit Lions made Jim Bob Cooter the offensive coordinator.
Adding someone aboard during the season is out of the question, but planning ahead is never a bad idea. Moral of the story, J.B.C. isn’t the guy to get this rushing offense going.
Cooter is a quarterback guru, but what a quarterback really needs is a stable/functioning run game. It doesn’t need to be top-shelf, but better than 28th in rushing yards and 30th per game.
The Lions have an already proven QB guru in head coach Jim Caldwell. It isn’t uncommon to see head coaches handle play-calling duties but that’s no easy task and it’s a sign of some serious struggles. Caldwell has never been known for how well his teams run the ball.
Detroit isn’t doing terrible overall in scoring and points per game, ranking fourth and fifth respectively. So who do the Lions bring in to fix their rushing woes? Look no further than Butch Jones.
The ex-Tennessee Volunteers head coach was fired on November 12th after going 0-6 in Southeastern Conference (SEC) play and 4-6 overall. From 2013-2017, he went 34-27.
Previous to coaching in Knoxville, Jones was the head coach for the Cincinnati Bearcats (10-12) and the Central Michigan Chippewas (07-09) and had much success. Both teams under his leadership won two conference titles. All of his teams have been successful running the ball, as most of his positional coaching experience has been with the running backs.
What makes even more sense for Jones to come to the Lions is not just his local ties to CMU. The recently fired coach is a Ferris State Bulldog and is from Saugatuck, Michigan. This makes for a pretty good reunion.
Detroit could still keep Cooter and Jones could replace current running backs coach David Walker, but I believe Butch is better suited and more than capable and deserving of being an offensive coordinator. Al Golden, a former head coach of the Temple Owls (06-10) and the Miami Hurricanes (11-15) became the Lions tight end coach in 2016. Ruling out Jones to go from college head coach to professional running backs coach would be unfair.
Would changing who’s blocking and who’s running the ball make an impact of changing the offense? Obviously there is room for improvement. Where the Lions are hurting more than having the right players is having the right coaching.
Being open to all possibilities to improve the ground and pound attack is something the Lions need to do. Jones could be a major piece in helping Detroit do that and make the offense championship caliber.