Looking a the Coaches: D-Line

So, it now appears that I need a new modem. I'm currently using the test modem for the place I live...which they are going to take back tomorrow. So, instead of posting about my joy that the lockout is over, I'm going to post the last one of these I'm going to do. Today we're going to look at the D-Line coach Kris Kocurek

Lions Bio: 


Kris Kocurek was promoted to defensive line coach just before the 2010 offseason. He came to Detroit as the Lions’ assistant defensive line coach in 2009 after spending the previous season coaching defensive line at Stephen F. Austin State.

LIONS COACHING HIGHLIGHTS: In Kocurek’s first season as the Lions’ defensive line coach, Detroit had the most-improved pass rush in the NFL. Even though teams threw the ball nine times less against the Lions in 2010 season than they did in 2009, the Lions picked up 18 more sacks, which accounted for an increase of 3.28 sacks per pass play.

  • Of the Lions’ 44 sacks, 39 (second most in the NFL) were attributed to the defensive line, 23.5 more than the Lions defensive line accounted for in 2009.
  • The Detroit defensive line, featuring three new starters in DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, DT Corey Williams and rookie standout DT Ndamukong Suh, was also the most-improved unit in the League in regards to sack yardage with 179 more sack yards lost than the previous season.
  • Kocurek was also instrumental in the development of Suh who led all NFL defensive tackles with 10.0 sacks and had 66 tackles (49 solo). Suh was voted as a starter for the NFC Pro Bowl squad and was named to the AP All-Pro team. He was also the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. During his rookie season, he set a new team record for sacks by a rookie since the stat became official in 1982.
  • DE Cliff Avril (8.5), DE Lawrence Jackson (6.0), DE Turk McBride (5.0) and DT Sammie Hill (2.5) all garnered career highs in 2010.

In 2009, Kocurek helped rookie DT Sammie Hill, who was drafted out of Stillman College in the fourth round (115th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, emerge as an opening day starter. He finished the season with 26 tackles (14 solo) and two fumble recoveries in 13 games while making the transition from a small college prospect to NFL starter (12 starts).

In 2007, Kocurek served as the assistant head coach and defensive line coach at West Texas A&M where he helped coach the Buffaloes to the 2007 Lone Star Conference title as well as the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs. The Buffaloes became one of the top defensive units in the LSC and led the conference in scoring defense. 
Under Kocurek’s guidance, Brandon Swain became one of the top defensive players at the Division II level and was a 2007 First-Team Daktronics, AFCA and AP Little All-American and conference defensive lineman of the year after recording 24.5 tackles for losses and 14 sacks.

Kocurek served as the defensive line coach at Texas A&M-Commerce in 2006 and helped guide the Lions’ top-ranked defensive unit which finished with No. 1 in total and scoring defense.

For two seasons (2004-05) Kocurek served as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M-Kingsville and coached the Havelina’s defensive line where he was active in the development of Wilbert Martin, who was twice selected as first team All-LSC and was a free agent signee of the Baltimore Ravens.

Kocurek began his coaching career in 2003 as a student assistant at Texas Tech. While in Lubbock, he assisted with the defensive linemen and helped coach the Red Raiders to a 2003 Houston Bowl win over Navy.

Prior to coaching, Kocurek spent two years in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans (2002) and the Seattle Seahawks (2001) after being selected in the seventh round (237th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft by Seattle.

Kocurek played collegiate football at Texas Tech and was a three-time All-Big 12 selection. As a senior, he was selected as team captain and named defensive player of the year.


The Lions defensive line took a huge step forward in 2010. It doesn't hurt that they drafted Ndamukong Suh and signing Kyle Vanden Bosch. The Lions did show something last year that I don't think I've seen from them in a long time. They were able to get pressure on the QB with just their defensive line. That's a big deal because it means you don't have to have LB's and DB's worrying about blitzing so they can worry about their normal assignments. 

We've all heard "a good defensive line can make an average DB into a good one." The Lions played well with a patch work secondary because of a solid DLine rotation. It was a combination of talent, player leadership, and coaching.  

I don't know if it was Gunther or Kocurek that came up with the idea to use that bizarre 3-1-3 formation with KVB or Suh hovering around between the Dline and the LB's, but it was awesome. I loved the fact that it wasn't over used. It reminds me of a few years ago when the Dolphins started randomly throwing in the Wildcat. It wasn't something seen very often so teams had a little trouble defending it. Now, every team in the NFL runs wildcat in practice because it became really popular. I hope that doesn't happen with the 3-1-3 formation. 

Kocurek took over for Bob Karmelowicz who passed away before the start of the 2010 season. Karmelowicz was a really good coach, he's the reason Warren Sapp was a DT (he was a tight end before meeting Karmelowicz). While I think the Lions DLine could have been dangerous under Karmelowicz, I think they are a force to be reckoned with under Kocurek. 

Is there a weak link on the DLine? I don't think so. I'm excited to see what Nick Fairley will look like in this system. I think with the combination of KVB and Coach Kocurek, any motivation/character concerns that people had about Fairley will be a thing of the past. 

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

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