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Get to know a Lions coach: Curtis Modkins

A look at new Detroit Lions running backs coach Curtis Modkins.

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions hired Curtis Modkins as their running backs coach and run game coordinator on Monday, filling one of the many vacancies they had on their coaching staff. In order to get to know what kind of coach Modkins is, let's take a look into his past and see what the feeling on him is in Buffalo.


Modkins, 42, has been coaching since the 1990s. His career began at TCU, which is where he played running back in college. At TCU, he worked his way up to a position coach after serving as a graduate assistant, and he later went on to coach at New Mexico and Georgia Tech. In 2008, Modkins made the jump to the NFL by joining the Kansas City Chiefs, and he moved on to the Arizona Cardinals a year later. After one season, he was hired by the Buffalo Bills, and he had been with them up until the Lions hired him on Monday. Here's a full rundown of his coaching experience:

  • TCU: Graduate assistant (1995)
  • TCU: Secondary coach (1996)
  • TCU: Tight ends coach (1997)
  • New Mexico: Cornerbacks coach (1998-2001)
  • Georgia Tech: Defensive backs coach (2002)
  • Georgia Tech: Running backs coach (2003-07)
  • Kansas City Chiefs: Running backs coach (2008)
  • Arizona Cardinals: Running backs coach (2009)
  • Buffalo Bills: Offensive coordinator/running backs coach (2010-12)

The word in Buffalo

I asked Buffalo Rumblings' Brian Galliford for his thoughts on Modkins, and this is what he had to say:

Pay no attention to his offensive coordinator title in Buffalo; it was Chan Gailey's offense, Gailey called the plays, and Modkins was essentially the running backs coach that helped Gailey build game plans.

I, personally, think Modkins did a great job coaching up C.J. Spiller over the last three years. Spiller got by purely on athleticism at Clemson, and as a result he did not transition well at all to the pro game. He didn't develop quite as quickly as anyone would have liked, but Modkins (and Gailey, too) kind of broke down the mental part of the game for Spiller and built him up again from scratch. Spiller is now a very patient, very smart runner -- and as a result, his elite talent and honed instincts were put to excellent use in 2012.

Modkins is a good coach. I'm curious to see how he works on another staff, since he's spent so much time in Gailey's shadow.

This is good to hear, especially the part about Modkins turning Spiller into a patient runner. One area where Mikel Leshoure struggled during his rookie season was with not hitting the proper lanes and perhaps not being patient enough since he wanted to go for contact, so hopefully Modkins is the man to get those vision issues corrected.

(If you're interested in more on Modkins, I suggest checking out these videos from the Bills' official site.)


Out of all the changes made to the offensive coaching staff on Monday, I'm most excited about the Modkins hire. He has a track record of success with Buffalo's running backs, and he seems like a great fit for the Lions considering Leshoure and Joique Bell are both pretty young. Obviously a big part of the Lions' struggles with running the ball last year can be attributed to the offensive line, but there is room for improvement with the running backs as well. I think Modkins can take their game to the next level.

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