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Cunningham will shake up Lions defense

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
If nothing else, new Detroit defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham brings a new level of credibility to the Lions' defense along with an experienced hand to help guide rookie coach Jim Schwartz.

Cunningham's defense in Kansas City was dreadful last season, giving up the fourth-most points in the NFL and the second-most yards. But you can hardly pin full blame on him considering the Chiefs' roster overhaul last offseason. In 2007, Cunningham fielded the league's No. 13 overall defense and in 2006 it was ranked No. 16.

The Lions' roster isn't exactly fortified with future superstars, but Cunningham is the right kind of hire in this situation. His fiery personality will help wipe clean the dim morale and low standards set by previous coordinator Joe Barry. And his 40-year résumé as a defensive strategist will also give players an established leader to trust and one that shares the same values with Schwartz.

Schwartz has been careful to avoid locking himself into a specific scheme, but Cunningham's arrival almost certainly means the Lions won't be playing the Tampa-2 defense they utilized for the past three seasons. When they worked together in Tennessee from 2001-03, Cunningham and Schwartz were known for building the scheme around the players they were given.