On Tuesday, the Senior Bowl announced that the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets will coach the two teams later this month. The Senior Bowl hosts some of the best players from college football for a week of practices and an all-star game of sorts.
By being able to coach one of the teams, the Lions now have a distinct advantage of getting to know some of these players on a very personal level. They will be able to gather information that can’t be deduced from short interviews or even on-site visits during the offseason. They can also see how players react to their style of coaching throughout the week of practices in Mobile, Alabama.
“We are excited to begin our 2022 offseason by coaching the Senior Bowl and getting a first-hand look at some of the top collegiate players as they prepare for the next level,” head coach Dan Campbell said in an official statement. “My staff and I welcome this unique opportunity. I know (Senior Bowl executive director) Jim Nagy and his staff will put on a first-class event and we look forward to a fun week in Mobile.”
This year, the coaching format will be a little different than in years past, with a focus on developing each team’s assistants.
“For the first time in the game’s rich history, head coaches will serve in more an advisory capacity while promoting select assistants into leadership roles on the staff (e.g. running backs coach to head coach, secondary coach to defensive coordinator, etc.). This new change will offer position coaches and coordinators developmental opportunities in a setting that showcases their skills in front of peers from all 32 clubs.”
Earlier this season, Campbell talked about the pros and cons of coaching the event.
“Both (general manager) Brad (Holmes) and I feel this way—yes, there is an advantage, but, you also have got to be careful that you don’t get swayed by that either,” Campbell said. “Like, sometimes—it’s no different than going, ‘We’re going to go look at these two receivers. You’re going to go look at this receiver who you think is a top-10 pick, but you don’t look at this one where you’re getting anchored by looking at that one live.’”
Defensive line coach Todd Wash has coached in the Senior Bowl before and knows the benefits first hand.
“I think it’s really nice to go down there and get your hands on players,” Wash said. “You really get to know who they are in an in-depth, you know, just in-depth I should say. I think it’s a good opportunity for us and our scouting department.”
The Lions last coached the Senior Bowl in 2020, with Matt Patricia leading the North team to a 34-17 victory. That draft, the Lions would go on to add four rookies that participated in the Senior Bowl, drafting guards Jonah Jackson Jackson and Logan Stenberg, as well as signing safety Jalen Elliott and long snapper Steve Wirtel as undrafted free agents.
At this point, it isn’t clear which teams the Lions will be coaching, but you can view all the players who will be participating in the Senior Bowl here.