While special teams isn’t the most important unit on the football field, it can sometimes be the difference between a huge win and a devastating loss. The Detroit Lions struggled at special teams in 2018, enough that it got their special teams coordinator fired midseason.
It’s hard to parse exactly what went wrong last year. The personnel certainly took a couple hits with Detroit moving on from guys like Don Carey, and an early injury to Jamal Agnew set back their return unit. Were the issues really Joe Marciano’s fault? It’s hard to say, but he was ultimately responsible.
Now the Lions have hired John Bonamego, a man who was employed by the team just five years ago. Bonamego comes back to Detroit after a rough stint as Central Michigan’s head coach, but with 16 years of special teams coaching in the NFL, his reputation certainly still holds strong in that area.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Do you approve of the hiring of ST coordinator John Bonamego?
My answer: It’s nice to get a coach with such a storied history in the NFL, and it’s even better when you pull him from other NFC North teams that were reportedly interested in his services.
However, I’m not expecting a complete turnaround now that Bonamego is working with the special teams unit. In his first year in Detroit, Bonamego helped orchestrate a special teams unit that ranked 20th in DVOA. Here’s a look at the most important team rankings:
Kick return average: 11th
Punt return average: 13th
Kick coverage average: 30th
Punt coverage average: 10th
Kick coverage aside, those are pretty good numbers. But in 2014—Bonamego’s second season in Detroit—things got considerably worse. They ranked 31st in DVOA and look at their punt/kickoff rankings.
Kick return average: 10th
Punt return average: 15th
Kick coverage average: 29th
Punt coverage average: 25th
The Lions clearly had some coverage unit issues under Bonamego.
But, overall, it’s hard to tell how much was Bonamego and how much was personnel. Lions general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia seem to stress special teams skills in their players, so there’s a chance Bonamego will have better personnel than he did five years ago, but I still have tempered expectations. Overall, I’m still okay with the hire, though. Reputation is a little easier to track that value on special teams, and it’s clear NFL minds still respect Bonamego.
Do you approve of the Lions hiring of John Bonamego?
This poll is closed