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Lions should hire Alan Lowry as new special teams coordinator

Who should the Detroit Lions hire as their new special teams coordinator? It's a no-brainer.

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The Detroit Lions' final coaching vacancy is at special teams coordinator. The Lions went into the offseason expecting this position to remain filled after the decision was made to retain Danny Crossman, but he left on Monday to become the Buffalo Bills' new special teams coordinator. The Lions filled their other vacancies on Monday, but now they have another one to take care of with Crossman leaving.

Lions fans, understandably, were quite happy when they found out that Crossman decided to leave. The Lions' special teams struggled mightily throughout 2012, and early in the season, the coverage units played a big part in two of Detroit's losses.

One of those losses came to the Tennessee Titans, which had two return touchdowns against the Lions. Tennessee's punt return touchdown in that game was essentially the same setup as the "Music City Miracle," and it was executed to perfection. The play was drawn up by special teams coach Alan Lowry, who was actually let go by the Titans last week. The surprising move was met with anger from Titans fans, and the Lions could end up benefiting from it.

As soon as news broke that Crossman was out in Detroit, speculation pointed to the Lions hiring Lowry. Aside from the fact that he was available thanks to the Titans letting him go, Jim Schwartz's connection to Lowry from their time in Tennessee made people figure that the Lions will pursue him. It remains to be seen if the Lions actually are pursuing him, but they should try to hire him if they haven't already. Lowry makes perfect sense for a number of reasons, the most notable being that he has a track record of success in the NFL.

Each year, Football Outsiders puts together special teams ratings based on a number of factors. They have data that goes back to 1991, allowing us to go back to when Lowry took over the Titans' special teams back in 1999. Here are the year-by-year rankings for the Titans' special teams during Lowry's tenure:

2012 - 19th
2011 - 3rd
2010 - 6th
2009 - 24th
2008 - 14th
2007 - 17th
2006 - 10th
2005 - 7th
2004 - 30th
2003 - 18th
2002 - 13th
2001 - 18th
2000 - 4th
1999 - 10th

While there were a couple of down years for the Titans, there were more really great years. Just based on those numbers, it seems like Lowry's special teams had the ability to be elite, and when they weren't, only rarely did they truly flame out like we saw with the Lions in 2012.

Speaking of the Lions, how about a comparison? Below are the Lions' year-by-year rankings for special teams over the same period of time. They are divided up by the three special teams coordinators the Lions had over this time: Crossman from 2010-12, Stan Kwan from 2007-09 and Chuck Priefer from 1999-2006. (Priefer began the job a couple years earlier, but we're starting with 1999 to compare to Lowry.)

2012 - 30th
2011 - 29th
2010 - 11th

2009 - 31st
2008 - 15th
2007 - 23rd

2006 - 7th
2005 - 32nd
2004 - 5th
2003 - 4th
2002 - 2nd
2001 - 9th
2000 - 6th
1999 - 7th

It's really quite amazing just how consistently good the Lions' special teams were under Priefer and just how consistently bad they've been ever since. Kwan did not do a good job, and Crossman was actually a bit worse based strictly on the rankings.

To really put the Lions' struggles into context, consider this: Under Kwan and Crossman, the Lions' special teams were ranked in the 20s or worse four times in six years. In Lowry's 14 years as the Titans' special teams coach, Tennessee was ranked in the 20s or worse only twice. I think that says it all.

If the Lions truly want to make a good hire and take their special teams anywhere near the level we saw under Priefer, they need to hire Lowry.

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