The Detroit Lions are bringing back a familiar face to their coaching staff. The team announced Tuesday it has hired John Bonamego as its special teams coordinator, a position he held with the Lions from 2013-14.
Bonamego, 55, left the Lions staff after the 2014 season to take the head coaching position at Central Michigan. He spent four years at the school, before he was fired following a 1-11 season.
The Lions replaced Bonamego with another longtime coaching veteran, Joe Marciano. He was fired by the team in the middle of last season.
Detroit’s special teams were hit and miss in 2018. Kicker Matt Prater, despite missing the first potential game-winning field goal of his career, made 28 of his 32 attempts, while long snapper Don Muhlbach earned his second trip to the Pro Bowl.
Punter Sam Martin rebounded from his disastrous 2017 campaign, but still finished 23rd in the league in net average, in part because of some sloppy work by the team’s coverage units. Return men averaged 11.4 yards on Martin’s punts, the second-worst rate in the NFL.
The Lions also got little out of their return game, a problem made worse by a string of early-season penalties and a knee injury that sidelined All-Pro punt returner Jamal Agnew 10 games.
Bonamego has spent 16 years in the NFL as a coach, including stops as special-teams coordinator with the Green Bay Packers (2003-05), New Orleans Saints (2006-07), Miami Dolphins (2008-10) and Jacksonville Jaguars 2012, the franchise he started with in 1999 as an assistant special-teams coach.
Bonamego guided the Chippewas to bowl appearances in his first three seasons.
Bonamego went to high school at Paw Paw in western Michigan before playing wide receiver and quarterback at Central.