The Detroit Lions made some quiet news on the coaching front Monday, finally replacing a trio of fired assistant coaches with a few new faces, one of which might help craft meaningful change on the offensive side of the ball.
Jeremiah Washburn, who has been on Detroit's staff since 2009, takes over as offensive line coach, replacing George Yarno. Washburn has already been assisting the Lions' offensive line staff, so he'll be familiar with the personnel and schemes, perhaps making the transition a bit more seamless.
Bobby Johnson takes the reigns from Tim Lappano to become the new tight ends coach. Lappano will stay on staff as receivers coach, replacing Shawn Jefferson. Johnson comes from Jacksonville where he coached Marcedes Lewis. Previously, he had NFL experience working as an offensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills. Less ceremoniously, embattled special teams coach Danny Crossman exited for Buffalo, where he'll join his friend Doug Marrone in the same capacity.
Finally, in perhaps the most intriguing and important move of the bunch, Curtis Modkins, who recently lost his job when Chan Gailey was relieved of his duties in Buffalo, replaces Sam Gash as running backs coach. In Buffalo, Modkins coached one of the league's more powerful rushing attacks since 2010, as C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson combined to form a powerful and dangerous tandem. In his career, Modkins has also tutored other young runners like Jamaal Charles, Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower. Seeing this should give Lions' fans some reasons for cautious optimism and perhaps even excitement.
Hopefully, Modkins' addition signals that the Lions are serious about becoming a similar team on the ground. Mikel Leshoure can already be seen as one half of Detroit's equation for a "smash and dash" attack. Perhaps, with Modkins in the fold, the Lions can now focus on finding a tough running burner, the other element needed to improve their rushing. Modkins will also be referred to as the running game coordinator, giving him additional occupational influence and control. Perhaps this will lend to a significant change in scheme and teaching ideals, which is something the Lions have needed for years.
While some critics will argue these January moves don't mean that much, Modkins' arrival will certainly be the key one to watch from today. If he can infuse some new ideas into Detroit's backfield and coach up the Lions' young runners, the offense could take some meaningful leaps forward.
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