NFL: Busy Lions happy with additions in free agency
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — For the last decade, the Detroit Lions have been historically unsuccessful during the fall and winter months.
That includes an NFL-record 30 losses over the last two seasons. The Lions, however, once again think they are having a great spring.
“This week has been quite a challenge, because of all of the new free agency rules and all the moves we feel we need to make,” said Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who met with reporters Friday. “That said, I’m very pleased with the additions we have made.”
Detroit has signed defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, receiver Nate Burleson and cornerback Jonathan Wade. The Lions also traded for defensive tackle Corey Williams and Chris Houston, another cornerback.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do, between free agency and the draft, but we’ve found some talented players that fit our scheme,” Schwartz said.
The second-year coach’s most visible move in the last week was to show up at Vanden Bosch’s door at the very moment the free agency period started. Schwartz worked with Vanden Bosch when he was the Titans’ defensive coordinator, just as Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan coached Burleson in Minnesota.
The coach stressed that the moves weren’t a repeat of what Rod Marinelli did. Marinelli added a long list of ex-Buccaneers who came to Detroit and mostly failed.
“I played possum when it came to Kyle — I went so long without mentioning him that our scouts were relieved when I finally spoke up in his favor,” he said. “They thought he would be a great fit, and were worried that I didn’t want him. When you add a player, you are saying something about who you are as a football coach. Trust me, I am very happy to say that, having Kyle Vanden Bosch in our locker room.”
Vanden Bosch and Williams are the first moves to rebuild a defensive line that struggled badly during last season’s 2-14 season. The Lions are also expected to add a defensive tackle with the second pick in the draft, either Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy.
“The thing about a defensive line is that it isn’t about how one player plays,” he said. “It’s about how everyone plays. When I told Kyle that we had traded for Corey, his eyes lit up, because he knows how much it will help him to get to the quarterback to have a strong pass-rushing tackle.”
While that makes Suh and McCoy the obvious choices with the second pick, Schwartz stressed that Detroit will pick the best player available.
“I think that when you pick for need instead of talent, you are going to hurt yourself in the long run,” he said. “Last year, with our three early picks, we didn’t set out to draft a quarterback, a tight end and a safety. As it turned out, we filled needs with Matthew Stafford, Brandon Pettigrew and Louis Delmas, but we chose them because they were the best players on our board.”
Schwartz did acknowledge one exception to his best-player-available plan, saying the Lions wouldn’t consider selecting Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford.
“You can play two wide receivers or defensive ends or tackles or safeties, but since we don’t run the wildcat, we can’t really play two quarterbacks,” he said with a laugh. “There might be a point where a quarterback makes sense for us in the draft, but not at No. 2.”