Mark Brunell shouldn’t be overlooked in Lions development of a young quarterback

Credit: Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY Sports /

As the Detroit Lions consider when they’ll have a young quarterback in place to develop, Mark Brunell’s role in that process will be critical.

As Dan Campbell assembled a Lions’ coaching staff filled with former NFL players, like he is, he landed on Mark Brunell as quarterbacks coach. Brunell had never coached above the high school level, but he of course spent 18 seasons (1994-2011) in the league as a quarterback.

Last offseason, as a coach might do when he’s pretty fresh in a job, Brunell heaped big praise on his new pupil Jared Goff.

“He has a lot of qualities that I saw in Drew Brees,” Brunell said. “Really, the passion for the game, the work ethic, the leadership. There are some similarities there, which is great to see.”

When asked this past week, via Pride of Detroit, Campbell expressed confidence the Lions have what (or who) they need on staff to develop a young quarterback.

“I’ve got all the faith in the world as far as we got what we need to develop a quarterback,” Campbell said. “That doesn’t concern me one bit.”

Much of how the Lions develop a young quarterback, success or failure, will fall as a reflection on new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. But Brunell’s role will be just as important.

Mark Brunell will have critical role in Lions development of a young quarterback

Brunell became a backup late in his playing career, but for a big chunk of his career he was a starter. Most notably, he made 114 starts for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 1995-2002. So he brings that playing experience to the table. Johnson is a rising star in coaching circles, but he can’t replicate that experience as an NFL starting quarterback.

From 2016-2020, Brunell worked at the NFL Combine as a mentor of sorts to incoming quarterbacks. So he has that unique bit of experience as well, for whatever it’s worth.

The game has obviously changed a lot since Brunell last took an NFL snap. But Campbell noted the bigger picture things he can impress upon a young signal caller.

“I liked the fact that ‘Bru’ played for a couple of years and had to prepare that way,” Campbell said. “So he’s got his own kind of outlook on it. He understands fundamentals, he understands the side of the game to prepare on top of all the other schematic, game plan, all those things.”

Brunell’s coaching future is to be determined, in terms of any advancement beyond being a quarterbacks coach. But his role in the Lions’ work with a young quarterback, whenever one is in place, should not be overlooked.

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