When the Minnesota Vikings' Percy Harvin took the opening kickoff of Sunday's game back 105 yards for a touchdown, special teams coordinator Danny Crossman's seat went from pretty warm to quite hot, at least in the eyes of Detroit Lions fans. When the Lions gave up a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown later in the game, Crossman's seat became scalding hot, and it seems most fans are calling for him to be fired.
Following Sunday's game, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was asked about their special teams issues and whether or not a coaching change is something that is even on the table. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it's not. Via the Lions, here is what Schwartz had to say about that idea:
On making a special teams coaching change an option: "No, that's not a consideration. If we were getting out-schemed, if we were making continual mistakes; there are physical plays that we have to make and we're professional athletes. We have to make them."
Certainly the players have to execute better, but let's not pretend this is some rare occurrence. Issues with covering kicks and punts are nothing new for the Lions, which gave up a pair of touchdowns on special teams last week as well. This problem had a lot to do with why the Lions made a change with their special teams coordinator following the 2009 season. They fired Stan Kwan and replaced him with Crossman, who did seem to improve the coverage units in 2010.
Since then, it's been a completely different story. The Lions have consistently struggled to contain kick and punt returners. We can blame the players all we want, but the one constant here is Crossman. He certainly doesn't deserve all the blame, but I have to disagree with Schwartz's assertion that the Lions aren't being out-schemed. A lot of different players have been involved with the special teams units the last couple years, and the Lions' problems go beyond people simply not executing.