Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez take a critical view of the Lions’ 2018 season and this staff, and discuss reasons to believe in 2019, Dec. 31, 2018.
Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
A decision on Jim Bob Cooter’s future as Detroit Lions offensive coordinator will have to wait until the new year.
Lions coach Matt Patricia said in his season-ending news conference Monday that he has not decided whether to bring Cooter back for another season as play caller and that he wanted “to allow the emotion of the season to come down” before making any staffing decisions.
“I don’t think I need to put a hard (deadline on making a decision) at this current moment,” Patricia said. “But obviously we have a timeline that we do have to address with it and things will come up when they come up. But for the minute, I’m just going to take the rest of today, maybe enjoy the new year and see my kids and my wife and we’ll settle in and we’ll go from there. So, I think that’s probably the best idea at this point.”
The Lions finished 24th in the NFL in total offense and 25th in scoring offense this year, though they had one of their best performances of the season in Sunday’s season-ending win over the Green Bay Packers.
Patricia, who retained Cooter and several other offensive assistants from Jim Caldwell’s final coaching staff, said Monday he was pleased with the improvements the Lions showed running the ball this season, though he acknowledged the offense’s struggles overall.
The Lions averaged 27 more yards rushing per game this year than they did last season, though they still finished in the bottom third of the league in rush offense.
They also went five straight games scoring 17 points or less late in the season, though they played most of those games without Kerryon Johnson, Marvin Jones, T.J. Lang and Bruce Ellington.
Cooter attended the Lions’ final team meeting Monday, and Patricia said he wanted to clear his head and “go back through and analyze everything from that standpoint to see what is best for the team moving forward.”
“In all aspects,” he said. “It’s not just coaching. It’s support staff, it’s players, it’s scheduling, it’s everything. So we’ll definitely evaluate everybody.”
Talking (money) with T.J.
Lang said he has no regrets about trying to chase down Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter on Hunter’s fumble return for touchdown in the Vikings’ Week 9 win.
Lang suffered a neck injury on the play, when he was shoved from behind by defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson as he pursued Hunter.
“Obviously as an offensive lineman you hope you don’t have to make too many tackles during a season, but that was just one of those plays where you got to lay it out, man,” Lang said. “You’ve got to do it for the team. Honestly, my first thought going after the guy was try to get the ball back, try to get the ball back, try to get some momentum going back on our side. But injuries happen. I mean, could have easily happened if I just was standing there and somebody blindsided me, too. So you lay it on the line. That’s our job.”
Lang said he thought Johnson’s block was “questionable,” and after missing the final eight games of the season with his injury, Lang said he’s “pretty much” back to full workouts now and even hit a blocking sled last week.
“It’s pretty much I can continue kind of normal offseason training that I’ve been doing the last few years,” he said. “So ready to get into that. I’ve had enough time the last couple months.”
Lang said he hopes to play at least one more NFL season, though he’ll hold off on making a final decision on that for several weeks.
The 31-year-old has started 19 games at right guard for the Lions over the past two seasons and missed 13 games with injury. He has one season left on the three-year free-agent deal he signed in March 2017 and indicated he’d be open to restructuring his contract to stay in Detroit next season.
The Lions have not given Lang any indication of their plans for 2019, but they won’t bring Lang back at his current salary. Lang is scheduled to make $8.25 million next season, and has a $500,000 roster bonus due in March.
“I mean, I would be open to playing next year,” Lang said, when asked if he’d be open to taking a pay cut. “I don’t care what anything else looks like, if I get another chance to be on this team, then that would be a great opportunity for myself.”
The Lions signed five practice-squad players to futures deals on Monday: Wide receiver Deontez Alexander, linebacker Garret Dooley, safety David Jones, offensive lineman Jarron Jones and defensive end Jonathan Wynn. Jake Rudock, who spent most of the last three seasons on the Lions’ practice squad, did not sign a futures contract. … Quarterback Matthew Stafford did not talk to reporters on Monday.
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