With the firing of offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, the Detroit Lions could use help restructuring their offense, and Wes Welker could be of assistance.
Detroit Lions fans got the best news they have heard in a while last week, as the team announced that will not renew offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter’s this season, marking an end to his mediocre era. While Cooter may have been exciting and clever when he first started at the job in 2015, it was clear that it was finally time for a dismissal.
Although Cooter did lose main offensive weapons this season, such as Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr., and Kerryon Johnson, that does not excuse the fact that his once-dynamic offense that helped the Lions to a playoff spot in 2016 got stale real quick.
Cooter had this very annoying tendency in his playcalling where when he started to call a play that was successful, such as underneath routes to Theo Riddick, he would not use that play again until it was much too late in the game.
Even though he always got the endorsement of quarterback Matthew Stafford, Cooter’s offense was so conservative and predictable that defenses could call out what plays the Lions were running before they ran them, simply based on formation or running the same plays into the ground in multiple games.
The best offensive gurus in today’s NFL, such as Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs and Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams, are so successful because they formulate their offense to fit their players. Cooter didn’t seem to do that with Stafford this year, as he called lots of short passes rather than letting Stafford air out the ball like he’s good at.
While there are probably a lot of factors that contribute to Stafford’s regression this season, but Cooter’s inability to take his sports car out of the garage is certainly one of them.
As Cooter looks for another job in the league, head coach Matt Patricia’s first priority early this offseason should be replacing Cooter with offensive experts who can get the most out of his offense and put the player’s strengths around their own scheme.
While it is unlikely that he will be hired as a coordinator, Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn should consider adding former Patriot wide receiver Wes Welker to their offensive coaching staff.
While Welker may currently not have a ton of coaching experience-he has been an offensive assistant with the Houston Texans for two seasons-the former Pro Bowler’s expertise at the slot receiver spot could bring some help to the Detroit Lions receiving core.
Welker spent the majority of his career in New England, playing under a coaching staff that included Patricia. Even though they dealt with opposite sides of the ball, Welker and Patricia already have an established relationship working on a very successful team, with knowledge as to how they can bring that success to the Motor City.
While the Detroit Lions did well on the deep ball with Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay, with the departure of Tate due to a trade, the Lions lost their reliable slot receiver who could make defenders miss in space and give Stafford a short pass safety blanket in the middle of the field.
Due to the departure of Tate and a lack of adequate tight end production in 2018, it’s likely that the Lions will use a mid-round draft pick on Tate’s replacement; a speedy slot guy who’s agility and playmaking ability can complement Jones Jr. and Golladay well on the outside.
No matter who that new slot receiver ends up being in Detroit, having Welker on the coaching staff who won a Super Bowl being productive from the slot position will help the new receiver, or young ones currently on the roster like Andy Jones, T.J. Jones and Brandon Powell, learn how to properly contribute in the middle of the offense.
The bottom line is that the Lions have not seen a lot of success as a franchise, so bringing in a five-time Pro Bowler and a former first-team All-Pro who knows how to succeed could help turn this offense from mediocre to monumental in a matter of months.