Did the Lions make a critical mistake firing Brayden Coombs?

Brayden Coombs, Cincinnati Bengals (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
Brayden Coombs, Cincinnati Bengals (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports) /

Did the Detroit Lions do themselves a disservice firing Brayden Coombs?

Down 32-18 with just over 12 minutes left in their matchup against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, the Detroit Lions found themselves with a critical decision to make on fourth down. The Lions’ special teams coordinator, Brayden Coombs, decided it was time for a fake punt. Unfortunately, he reportedly failed to tell his interim head coach, Darrell Bevell.

The ball was direct snapped to safety C.J. Moore and he was tackled just short of the first-down marker. That led to the Titans getting terrific field position on the Lions’ 34-yard line, on the edge of field-goal range. But Tennessee would actually punch it in for seven points on that drive, extending their lead, 39-18.

Detroit would go on to lose the game in Nashville, 46-25. And on Monday, Coombs would proceed to lose his job.

According to an unnamed source via The Detroit News, Coombs’ fake punt call was allegedly the final straw for Bevell and a leadership group within the organization that included team president and CEO, Ron Wood. And that the team’s first-year special teams coordinator was allegedly let go in part for being overly focused on self-promotion.

While it’s hard to condone his actions, the 34-year old Coombs is considered one of the promising, young coaching talents in the NFL. And in his first season in Detroit post 11 years with the Cincinnati Bengals, he had fielded a solid Lions’ special teams unit and helped to make punter, Jack Fox, a Pro Bowler.

Fox isn’t the only one lamenting the Lions’ decision to part ways with Coombs. There has been an outpouring of love for the former special teams coach by several of his players on social media. And that brings with it a concern that Bevell could be losing some supporters in the locker room with this unpopular decision.

With the recent firings of both head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, there are likely going to be several coaching and roster changes in the days to come. Yet, to fire Coombs with two games left in what is an already lost season not only makes a clear statement by Bevell but would seem to prevent the next regime from possibly retaining a bright, young coaching prospect who earned the respect and admiration of several of the players he coached in Detroit.

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According to the Detroit Free Press, Assistant special teams coach Marquice Williams will take over Brayden Coombs’ former role for the remainder of the season.