Although the Detroit Lions avoided losing any of their coordinators this year to head coaching gigs, they have seen many assistant coaches leave this offseason.
That happened again this week, as former Lions offensive assistant John Morton was announced as part of the Denver Broncos’ new coaching staff under Sean Payton. Morton will be the pass game coordinator for the Broncos.
Morton was only with the Lions for a single season as the team’s senior offensive assistant. It’s not uncommon for a senior assistant to leave after a year or two, as they typically just help oversee a transition on one side of the ball (see: Dom Capers’ resume). Morton helped first-time offensive coordinator Ben Johnson build the Lions’ offense quickly into one of the best units in the NFL.
It’s not a surprise to see Payton—mentor of Lions coach Dan Campbell—poach someone off of the Lions’ squad. Morton was an obvious choice, as he served as the New Orleans Saints’ offensive assistant, pass game coordinator, and wide receivers coach under Payton years ago. In a fun twist, the offensive coordinator Morton will help assist in Denver is none other than former Lions coach Joe Lombardi.
Thus far, the Lions have seen three different coaches hired by other teams: assistant head coach/RB coach Duce Staley and defensive line coach Todd Wash were both hired by the Carolina Panthers for the exact same role. The Lions have also added a handful of coaches. Steve Heiden is the team’s new tight ends coach, Scottie Montgomery replaces Staley, and Dre Bly is the team’s new cornerbacks coach.