Lions sign all three coordinators to contract extensions


The Detroit Lions have some stability on their coaching staff.

Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew confirmed today that the team signed all three of its coordinators to new contracts. Those signings took place during the regular season but were not previously disclosed.

The re-signing of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is good news for Detroit, where one of the best offensive attacks in the league is coming into place. Linehan was hired in 2009, a couple months before the Lions selected Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick in the NFL draft, and Stafford has steadily grown in Linehan’s offense. It makes sense to keep the offense going in the same direction.

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham seemed to have his unit going in the right direction early in the season, but as the year wore on the Lions’ defense began to struggle, and in Week 17 of the regular season against the Packers and their loss to the Saints in the playoffs, the Lions’ defense simply couldn’t get off the field. The decision to re-sign Cunningham doesn’t look as great now as it did at the time it was made.

And special teams coordinator Danny Crossman’s units also struggled, giving up a lot more big plays on punts and kickoffs than they made in the return game. But Crossman has been given a new contract, too.

The bottom line is that this is the first coaching staff since 1999 to lead the Lions to the playoffs, and the Lions want to keep that staff in place. Mayhew said the team is working on new deals for head coach Jim Schwartz and all the other assistants as well, and Detroit would like to have the same coaching staff in 2012 that it had in 2011.

22 responses to “Lions sign all three coordinators to contract extensions

  1. Wouldn’t call the cunningham signing bad at this point. The defensive line is really the only complete unit. The team still has personnel issues on D and that was well known coming in. Its just that the focus was all on the D line, which of course is quite good.

  2. As a Lions fan I am excited about Linehan, pay him whatever it takes to keep him, no matter what. Don’t solely look at Stafford’s season, also look at last year and the job he did with Shaun Hill AND Drew Stanton, our 2nd and 3rd string QBs respectfully.

    Gunther, eh. I hope his defensive scheme is due mostly yo the talent on the roster and not because he wants it regardless. The wide 9 does NOT work, it puts too much responsibility on the LBs while creativity is simply does NOT exist. The DL lines up and comes at the same people the same way time and time again.

    The biggest thing this off season is Cliff Avril, Stephen Tulloch and Calvin Johnson. Megatron is under contract through this coming season, but their is an emphasis on locking him up long term prior to that ensuring Calvin NEVER sees the light of free agency. That WILL happen, Avril and Tulloch however create a scenario where 1 will most likely be gone. IF we have to choose I pick Avril, Avril has earned his right to stay on this team and earned a good contract. I like Tulloch and hopefully he will sign a contract with a bigger back end otherwise I could see franchising him [which would surely upset him I’m sure given everything] or letting him walk. We have a lot of contracts that have expired now and we have money freed up, time to see what Mayhew can do with cap casualties staring him in the face…In Mayhew I Trust

  3. Unlike what is occurring in other organizations at this time of year, the Lions’ front offense is sending a message of consistency and stability to the current players and prospective free agents.

    Also, Gun has earned the right to turn this around. If he doesn’t, new contract or no, I’m sure this will be his last year in Detroit.

    Overall, projects well for Lions’ fans.

  4. They are all deserving of new contracts, but, then again, they never succeeded as head coaches (Linehan and Cunningham).

  5. This is just “Dirty”!!! How could they do this!! They are just a dirty team… Sorry, I have just read this statement so many times on here all season I’m turning into one of you sheeple LMAO

  6. Cunningham should not have been extended. With arguably the most talented D-line in football, the unit failed to make a significant impact this season while the team was carried by the offense most of the season. It’s hard to imagine there isn’t a better option available that would squeeze more production out of those guys. Cunningham is too predictable with his “wide 9” scheme and game plan which teams had no problem solving this year. He failed to adjust and seemingly made no effort to while quarterbacks continued to rack up the yards and points against them. Hopefully Schwartz will get more involved in the defense next season.

  7. It wasn’t the defensive scheme that failed, it was a lack of depth in the secondary that failed. Once that is taken care of everything else will fall into place.

  8. THE GREAT DETROIT LIONS is on the road to the Super Bowl keep the coaches and build the D one game do not make a season.

    The team didn’t look very good in the playoff learn and move on their is always next year.

    Nothing short of THE SUPER BOWL will be accept next year.

    Next year 12 – 4.

  9. 40zntallcanz says:
    Jan 12, 2012 1:24 PM
    now they should focus on teaching that defense how to tackle.

    And teaching the DB’s how to catch!

  10. I keep waiting for Cunningham to spontaneously combust on the sideline during a game. He always looks very upset.

  11. I’m all in favor of all of the extensions -and I’m surprised about the attack on Gunther Cunningham from MDS.

    When you factor in what was being said about the Lions defense at this time last year … the defense has come a long way. We have some big needs in the secondary and at linebacker, but overall they wildly exceeded expectations.

    Stability in the coaching staff is excellent news for Detroit – it should help attrack top tier talent too.

  12. The lack of depth on the secondary wouldn’t have been so glaring if the “dominant” d-line could mount anything resembling a pass rush. The secondary looked great way back when they were forcing quarterbacks to get rid of the ball in a hurry. No pass rush = no opportunities for a punt return

  13. I don’t think Gunther earned a new contract.

    Everyone’s talking about the awful secondary play in the last two games, but the Lions got gashed in the running game repeatedly.

    All of the comebacks they had were a result of the falling far behind because of the defense not being able to stop anybody.

    When they were getting blown out they would go to man coverage and blitz more. I feel like if they played that way from the start against the Saints they could have won, it couldn’t have been any worse right?

  14. The only thing that will improve Coach Gunther’s D, aside from a stud Free Agent DB signing, is maturity. When every call goes against you and certain teams don’t get one freaking holding call all game, it wears on a young player’s mind. Detroit’s collapses on D invariably came in the second half of games. The most obvious example is the playoff in NO.

    I have every confidence in Cunningham. Coach Stoneface makes me want to hit someone and at 43 that’s ill-advised.

    Go Lions! Go Badgers!

  15. Gunther Cunningham should be required by law to give half his earnings to the family of Derrick Thomas. He earned his reputation as a defensive guru by being lucky enough to oversee a defense Thomas played on and has accomplished absolutely nothing ever since.

    It’s like Mike Shanahan and Elway.

  16. olikneves says:
    It wasn’t the defensive scheme that failed, it was a lack of depth in the secondary that failed.

    Ya got that right. The secondary blows. Get that fixed and the running game healthy and and the sky’s the limit.

  17. Why is everyone piling on Gunther?

    A coach can only put his guys in position to succeed. Gunther wasn’t the one out there dropping interceptions like they were live firecrackers.

    His calls gave the team opportunities. They didn’t capitalize – that’s not on him.

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