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Lions’ coordinator: We play violent defense, but can’t have injuries

Gunther Cunningham AP

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham sat his players down recently and delivered a message: Violence is allowed. Injuries are not.

“We’ve really explained the facts of life to them,” Cunningham said, via DetroitLions.com. “I told them about a philosophy that we play violent defense, aggressive, between-the-lines, honest, fair and we’re going to cover. But the most important thing is that we’re available and accountable through the season. We can’t have injuries.”

Of course, injuries are a fact of life for every NFL team, and the more violently you play the game, the more likely you are to get injured. And given the NFL’s increasing emphasis on player safety, there are surely some in the league office and some within the players’ union who won’t appreciate the idea that a coach is suggesting that a player needs to suck it up and keep going if he’s hurt.

Cunningham’s larger point, however, is that the Lions’ defense played well last year when healthy, and that when injuries started to affect them late in the year, that’s when opposing quarterbacks started to carve up the Lions’ secondary.

“They have the skills to [cover] but what they need to do is stay on the field,” Cunningham said. “We made a big push for that.”

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22 Responses to “Lions’ coordinator: We play violent defense, but can’t have injuries”
  1. aintthenazz says: Jun 10, 2012 9:12 AM

    Very obvious when the Lions were forced to play wide receivers at defensive back the last 2 games. But hey, Matt Flynn’s not complaining.

  2. joetoronto says: Jun 10, 2012 9:24 AM

    “Play violent but can’t have injuries”

    If it were possible, wouldn’t it be great?

    This is so Gunther Cunningham.

  3. noeffinway says: Jun 10, 2012 9:29 AM

    I have read the entire Gunther quotes that you are referencing here and not at anytime do I believe that he is saying that anyone needs to play through a serious injury. But yeah, you can spin it however you want.

  4. philwauke says: Jun 10, 2012 9:34 AM

    Jinx!

  5. bucks12965 says: Jun 10, 2012 9:35 AM

    But…doesn’t their defense pretty much suck?

  6. EJ says: Jun 10, 2012 9:36 AM

    Injuries took out most of the non-playoff teams and a couple of the playoff teams. Some of the teams survived pretty intact, but i believe the IR list was at an all time high last year.

  7. pizzabeerandfootball says: Jun 10, 2012 10:12 AM

    This quote was irresponsibly and perhaps maliciously taken out of context. He was referring to Aaron Berry tacking on muscle this offseason, and the fact that when you maximize the fitness and mass of your frame you are going to endure fewer injuries. He never once implied that anyone should play through injury. Have a little integrity.

  8. arlingtonsynn says: Jun 10, 2012 10:16 AM

    How about instead of worrying about your defense racking up injuries… they focus on NOT racking up suspensions.

  9. rmc1995 says: Jun 10, 2012 10:24 AM

    Gunther isn’t asking anyone to play through injury. There seems to be some reading comprehension problems with the writer here or he’s intentionally misrepresenting the article knowing most won’t click on to read it. Gunther wants his guys to be physically fit to play violently without getting hurt. Gunther’s uses Berry as his example when he says that Berry came to the Lions at 115 and is now at 190. Obviously guys were getting hurt and not playing games and missing practice. This doesn’t appear to be a guy who askes players to play hurt, but rather a coach reminding his players to be physically able to prevent injury.

  10. bigwalt2990 says: Jun 10, 2012 10:27 AM

    Gotta love that picture of Gun……bold prediction…the Lions will have a top 10 pass D, again.

  11. bigwalt2990 says: Jun 10, 2012 10:28 AM

    Berry wasn’t really 115 lbs lol…Cunningham was exaggerating for a laugh. (he weighed 176 out of college)

  12. jomochiefsfan84 says: Jun 10, 2012 10:47 AM

    Gunther Cunningham is a crappy DC he didn’t do anything for the chiefs defense while he was there & he hasn’t done anything for Detroit & their defense was not good last year I had them on my fantasy team & was lucky to score 3 pts from them. Lions offense will be firepower but they still have a mediocre defense.

  13. pftcensorssuck says: Jun 10, 2012 11:29 AM

    Not once did he mention the word “dirty” …… the players must have picked that one up on their own.

  14. ahs2 says: Jun 10, 2012 11:35 AM

    Play through injuries?!…huh?! Total reach there, writer. Clearly, the message is to play violently but do so with some discretion in order to minimize the chance of injuring yourself. Having WRs playing CB against the last two games of the year is a prime example, not worth the big hit. Be less obvious, writer; you guys are big time now.

  15. detroitrollin22 says: Jun 10, 2012 11:52 AM

    MDS bashing the Lions once again.

  16. freemanmvp says: Jun 10, 2012 12:01 PM

    That’s one of the stupiest things ive heard a coach tell a player.

  17. hatesycophants says: Jun 10, 2012 1:39 PM

    Some fantasy douche ragging on Gunther Cunningham is hilarious.

    Go Lions! Go Badgers!

  18. hedleykow says: Jun 10, 2012 1:39 PM

    Gunther was just saying they need to play smart, like making sure not to turn an ankle when stomping on an opponent’s head. Common sense stuff.

  19. jaderbear76 says: Jun 10, 2012 1:59 PM

    Better hope the d line steps up because the secondary IS Gona get torched again this year!

  20. jimmylions says: Jun 10, 2012 3:51 PM

    Here’s the actual quote – draw your own conclusions about whether this article accurately portrays what Cunningham said:

    “Berry looks like he weighs about 190 and he came in here about 115, I think, a couple years ago,” Cunningham said. “The first meeting I had, I explained to him we play violent defense, aggressive between the lines, honest, fair, all those things, and we’re going cover, but the most important thing is that we’re available and accountable throughout the season. We can’t have injuries.”

    Note that Cunningham says these comments were made during his first meeting with Berry. The writer of this article stating that Cunningham “sat his players down” does not appear to factually correct.

    Likewise, it would be best to dismiss any conclusion the writer makes based on what appears to be a woefully inaccurate misquote.

  21. rexryanschoolofpodiatry says: Jun 10, 2012 4:31 PM

    jomochiefsfan84 says: Jun 10, 2012 10:47 AM

    Gunther Cunningham is a crappy DC he didn’t do anything for the chiefs defense while he was there & he hasn’t done anything for Detroit & their defense was not good last year I had them on my fantasy team & was lucky to score 3 pts from them. Lions offense will be firepower but they still have a mediocre defense.

    ——————————-
    The Lions had the 8th best defense in fantasy football last year….that means there were only 7 defenses better than them…so you are just being a toolbox….maybe Gunther didn’t do anything with the Chiefs D because they were AWFUL (talent wise) when he was there. A coach can only do so much….the players play the game….

  22. backindasaddle says: Jun 11, 2012 1:41 AM

    Watch out there now Gunther! Remember this is now the “Kinder & Gentler” NFL. “Violence” is a bad bad word now. The Commissioner and all those lawyers that are ultimately going to destroy our game are not going like you using that bad bad V word. Watch what you say Gunther or you could find yourself taking a vacation with Gregg Williams.

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