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Detroit Lions reportedly hiring new pass game coordinator

The Detroit Lions are adding another coach to their staff, and yes, it’s another former player.

Indianapolis Colts v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

According to a report from Jordan Schultz, the Detroit Lions are hiring Deshea Townsend as their new passing game coordinator. Townsend, a former 12-year NFL cornerback, has been coaching since 2011. He most recently was the passing game coordinator/cornerbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars for the past two years.

Obviously, this hire brings into question the future of current Lions pass game coordinator Tanner Engstrand. The quickly-rising coach has been linked to several coordinator jobs this offseason, reporting interviewing with the Patriots and Buccaneers before both teams opted to look elsewhere. However, he has also been linked to the Seattle Seahawks job—which remains unfilled.

UPDATE: Per Schultz, this hiring has no impact on Engstrand’s future with the team, as he’ll focus on the defensive side of the ball. Though it’s worth noting that last year the Lions did not have a pass game coordinator on both sides of the ball.

UPDATE 2: ProFootballTalk is reporting that Townsend’s title is “defensive pass game coordinator and cornerbacks coach.” This now brings into question the status of current Lions cornerbacks coach Dre Bly.

Regardless of what this means for Engstrand, Townsend will be a critical hire for the Lions, as they aim to keep their highly-ranked offense among the best in the NFL. Last year, Detroit ranked second in passing yards and fifth in passer rating. However, their pass defense was one of the worst in the league, so it’s possible Townsend—with a long history on the defensive side of the ball—provides a ton of help there. For reference, the Jaguars ranked 17th in passer rating allowed last year and 17th in yards per attempt.

Here’s an overall look at Townsend’s coaching resume:

  • 2011-12: Arizona Cardinals assistant defensive backs coach
  • 2013-15: Mississippi State cornerbacks coach
  • 2016-17: Tennessee Titans defensive backs coach
  • 2018: New York Giants assistant defensive backs coach
  • 2019-21: Chicago Bears secondary coach
  • 2022-23: Jacksonville Jaguars passing game coordinator + cornerbacks coach

You can follow along with all of the Lions’ coaching changes and the latest news/rumors with our 2024 NFL coaching carousel tracker.

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