Can Detroit Lions new defensive coordinator spell Super Bowl bid?

Cory Undlin, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Cory Undlin, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions have hired a new defensive coordinator with a Super Bowl resume, but can he bring this team to the promised land?

If you haven’t heard the name Cory Undlin before today and you’re a Detroit Lions fan, you’re going to need to get used to it. Undlin has been hired as the new defensive coordinator in the Motor City. And he’s got a big resume that comes with him.

Undlin has multiple Super Bowl appearances, most recently with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 as the defensive backs coach. In the same coaching role with the Denver Broncos in 2013, he once again made it to the big game. And who could write about this Lions team without making the connection to the New England Patriots? That’s right, Undlin was a defensive coaching assistant with the Patriots in their 2004 Super Bowl season.

That’s a lot of Super Bowls! Unfortunately, he’s joining a team that has only one playoff win in 50-plus years and hasn’t sniffed the Super Bowl since it became a thing in 1967. He’s also facing an uphill climb with this Lions squad. While it might have felt like this team was getting things together in the first few games in 2019, they stumbled and fell a long way down.

The NFC North is also stout with two playoff teams – the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers – standing in their way of a playoff birth, let alone a division title. There’s uncertainty with a few key players, notably defensive tackle Damon Harrison and cornerback Darius Slay.

Both players asked for new contracts last offseason. Now, it sounds like Harrison might retire. If that happens, the team needs another run-stuffer up the middle. If Slay doesn’t get an extension this summer, he could hold out. That would immediately make cornerback a major need. The Lions could surely address cornerback this offseason to protect themselves from Slay’s possible departure.

Either way, Undlin has his work cut out for him in Detroit. We all know Super Bowl experience doesn’t automatically mean you’ll make it back to the big game anytime soon. Even if the coaches or players come over from the Patriots dynasty.

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So, can Undlin bring the Detroit Lions to the Super Bowl? In 2020, it would be nothing short of a miracle. With fans calling for the firing of general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia, it doesn’t feel like Undlin will get a chance in 2021 if the team doesn’t make vast improvements or make the playoffs in 2020. Here’s hoping for a miracle.