New defensive coordinator, new ideas?
Cory Undlin has worked for and been influenced by a diverse set of coaches in his NFL career. Names like Bill Belichick, Romeo Crennel, Jack Del Rio, and former Lions coach Jim Schwartz in Philadelphia. All of which adds up to one point; for Undlin, unlike Patricia, there are more ways to get the job done on defense than just the ‘Patriot Way’.
Undlin’s background really does associate him with some aggressive defenses like the Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars and most recently the Philadelphia Eagles. If those stops didn’t teach him the importance of pressuring opposing quarterbacks by any means necessary, then he will never learn that lesson.
That aggressiveness is what he needs to bring to the table in Detroit. The understanding that if opposing passers get all day to throw, you lose. The philosophy of attacking enemy offenses, not just trying to bend without breaking.
Now Matt Patricia is still the head coach, and the rumors are that he will, at least for the time being, continue to call the defenses for the Lions. This is where Undlin will either get a chance to succeed or be dragged down to failure without the opportunity to show what he can do.
Last offseason Matt Patricia hired Darrell Bevell as the Lions offensive coordinator and gave him the reigns to the offense. Despite some struggles along the way, it proved to be an outstanding hire and the Lions offense improved greatly.
The questions are; will Undlin have any voice in the Lions defensive philosophy? And will he be given the opportunity do his job or will he just be Matt Patricia’s puppet?
Undlin is known as a teacher and a players coach. This means that whoever is on the defensive side of the ball for Detroit next season will probably play hard for Undlin. Hopefully smart as well. If they do, that’s a pretty good start.
But if his job is to do nothing more than bang his head against the Patricia defensive wall that isn’t working, instead of being allowed to contribute some fresh ideas and changes for the better, then the Lions and Undlin have already failed.
Without ever really finding out what Cory Undlin can do.
The truth is that none of us know whether Undlin is the answer or not. He may have no more success than Paul Pasqualoni did given an opportunity to do his job. But maybe, with the opportunity to implement some of his own ideas, the Lions might just find something positive to help turn this wretched defense around.
Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia are fighting for their jobs this offseason, but if Patricia can’t hire assistants that are capable of doing their jobs, much less letting them do their jobs, then Martha Firestone Ford might as well start the process of searching for her new general manager and head coach now instead of waiting for next seasons disaster to happen.