One of the most interesting mysteries surrounding the Detroit Lions’ front office power structure is the vague responsibilities of former Lions legendary linebacker Chris Spielman. His official title is Special Assistant to President/CEO and Chairperson, which means he reports directly to Sheila Ford Hamp (hold your boos) and Rod Wood.
But out at Allen Park, he’s not hiding in forbidden hallways of the team facility. You can’t miss him during a Lions practice, as he’s often working directly with the players, specifically with his former position group, the linebackers.
And while you may think that could feel a bit intrusive to the actual coaches on the field, inside linebackers coach Mark DeLeone isn’t concerned about that.
“I don’t feel that way,” DeLeone told the media on Wednesday. “We do a lot of things together. We talk a lot about it together. I think from an on-the-field standpoint he’s there as a sounding board. I can’t see everything, but he helps me cover the whole field.”
And, to DeLeone, Spielman is a special resource to him. Having a former four-time Pro Bowler at his disposal gives him not only a pair of eyes, but a football mind that has gone through it before.
“He understands the linebacker position,” DeLeone said. “I think there’s a lot of things that I’m really good at, one of them was not playing football. So, for me, it’s great when I think I have a great idea, somebody I can bounce the idea off of and talk to.”
As far as being on the same page, DeLeone expressed no concerns about mixed messages to the players. There’s enough communication between the two sides that everyone sees eye-to-eye.
“He’s an unbelievable person, and I think what Chris has done a great job of is listening to me coach, and if he does make a coaching point to a player, he knows it’s the same thing I’ve already said,” DeLeone said. “I think we’re very aligned and very on the same page in that regard.”
With Detroit’s extremely young linebacker room—especially in the aftermath of Jamie Collins’ release earlier this week—that coaching dynamic could be drastically important to the defense’s future. But what impresses DeLeone the most is Spielman’s devotion to the organization.
“I think he’s outstanding with our players, but more than anything, he loves this team so much.”
- Shout out to ESPN insider Field Yates, who knows the dedication—and the struggle—of Lions fans:
Lions fans have been through the ringer but are one of the best fanbases in sports. https://t.co/QKjPl9XTzE— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 29, 2021
- Dave Birkett took a closer look at some of the pivotal plays at the end of the Ravens game in this week’s film breakdown (subscribers only).
- Happy birthday to the newly-ringed Calvin Johnson:
Birthday boy getting it done.@CalvinJohnsonJr pic.twitter.com/ZncXDKjQR6— Detroit Lions (@Lions) September 29, 2021
- On Wednesday, Dan Campbell talked a little about Jon Dykema, the team’s director of football compliance, who also provides data to Campbell on his in-game coaching decisions, like fourth-down conversion probabilities and timeout usage. Justin Rogers of the Detroit News has more here.
- D’Andre Swift has been one of the NFL’s most consistent weapons, going back to last season:
The only @NFL players with 70+ scrimmage yards in each of their last 6 games:— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) September 29, 2021
- @Lions RB @DAndreSwift
- Dalvin Cook
- Derrick Henry
Swift also leads all #NFL RBs in receiving yards (166) & averages 5.6 yards/touch, tied for the lead among all RBs with 50+ touches.#OnePride pic.twitter.com/WrGoBmmuDa
- Your weekly Matthew Stafford update. He won NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time as a Los Angeles Ram, already surpassing the one weekly award he got as a Lion. He’s also second in MVP odds. Kyle Meinke of MLive has more.