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Friday, January 22, 2010
Updated: Lions shuffle coaching staff

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Detroit’s new special teams coordinator is Danny Crossman, who was known for passion and organization during five years in a similar position with Carolina. But his group’s performance dipped precipitously last season and he was fired as part of the Panthers’ staff reshuffling.

Here is some good insight from Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill Herald, who notes Crossman had a long history with Panthers coach John Fox. But Fox seemed to have little choice after the Panthers finished the season ranked No. 31 in kickoff returns, No. 30 in kickoff coverage and No. 29 in punt coverage. Football Outsiders’ special teams rankings put the Panthers’ special teams No. 29 overall in the NFL last season.

That was still ahead of the Lions, who finished No. 31 in that same ranking under since-fired coordinator Stan Kwan. As with most coaching changes, Crossman’s best chance for improving the Lions’ special teams is if the team continues to elevate the talent level of the players at the bottom of its roster, where most special teams contributors are culled from.

Crossman will be one of at least two new assistant coaches in Detroit this year. According to multiple reports, quarterbacks coach Jeff Horton will leave to become the offensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota.

Update: Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com reports that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is likely to assume Horton's duties and double as the Lions' quarterbacks coach. Linehan did the same thing for two of his three seasons in Minnesota.