If the reviews from last week's town hall meeting with season-ticket holders are any indication, the Detroit Lions have a pretty fiery new special teams coordinator. Joe Marciano was hired in February, but he only recently got a chance to publicly discuss his plans for the Lions' special teams units. Here's a small sampling of Marciano's comments from the town hall meeting:
Lions ST coach Joe Marciano stole the show tonight. Said he wants to help team "kickoff and kick ass."— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) April 1, 2015
This is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Marciano's comments. He also talked quite a bit about being excited to coach "the who's-nuts guys" on special teams. In other words, he is looking forward to coaching up the players who aren't going to be touching the ball, and he highlighted a former Lions player as an example of what he's looking for on special teams. From the Detroit Free Press:
Marciano, who spent part of last season as the Minnesota Vikings' interim special teams coordinator, relayed a story about when he coached special teams for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two decades ago and one of his players came off the field complaining about Lions fullback Cory Schlesinger.
"I said, 'Good job, bud. Good job,'" Marciano recalled. "He said, 'That No. 30, man, he's head butting me. Can he do that?' That was Cory. But … give me 10 of those guys, and I think you'll see some production. Give me 10 Cory Schlesingers."
10 Cory Schlesingers would certainly be nice, but Marciano will have to make do with the players actually on the Lions' roster. There will be a lot of competition this summer with players looking to make the team, and special teams will play a big role in who ends up sticking around. In that regard, Marciano will be searching for players with Schlesinger-like qualities.
Three spots on special teams that we know are already set are kicker (Matt Prater), punter (Sam Martin) and long snapper (Don Muhlbach). What isn't quite as certain is who will fill the return role. Jeremy Ross is back after having that job the last two seasons, but he struggled quite a bit last year. Marciano recognized that, but he also made it clear that the blocking in front on the returner needs to be better since "guys who can make plays with very limited blocking" are "hard to find." According to MLive, Marciano then joked with Lions president Tom Lewand that drafting a returner would make it much easier to find a special player like he described.
Whether or not that's an actual indication that Marciano wants an upgrade at returner is unclear, but Ross' job on special teams definitely seems in jeopardy with someone new taking over the coordinator role. At the very least, I would expect more of an open competition for the return duties this year, and that could ultimately result in Ross losing his spot on special teams.