PONTIAC - Kurt Schottenheimer the Lions new defensive coordinator had more the just the option of coming to Detroit. By coming to Detroit he turned down his own brother's offer as well as an offer to stay at Washington under Steve Spurrier or pursue a similar job in Atlanta.
"He is a highly-talented, sharp football man," Head Coach Marty Mornhinweg said. "It was a terrific interview and we liked him right off the bat. He has experience, as coordinator in this league and their defense this year was a top-10 defense under adverse circumstances. I have coached against his defense and he makes things very difficult in many aspects."
"I love working with my brother. He is a great leader and football coach, but I thought this was just the right thing to do," Schottenheimer said. "I was very impressed with Marty and Matt (Millen) and I like the direction that the team is going. I am excited to have a chance to be a part of it."
Schottenheimer will bring a more aggressive style of defense to Detroit. His defensive system will be one that will allow the Lions personnel to be successful.
"We have to create a multiple type of defense-one where you try to take from the offense what they do best," Schottenheimer said. "It has to be a multiple type of defense and one that plays to the strength of your personnel. We like to jam and disrupt receivers. We like to be aggressive and challenge people and disrupt the timing of everything they are doing offensively."
One area that the Lions defense lacked last season was tackling. That is something that Schottenheimer plans on working on right from the start. He also will look at film to evaluation the players and their ability. He will talk with the Lions defensive staff and outline exactly what he plans to do scheme-wise and what he expects from each coach.
"We want to get after people and we want to be physical and all of those things," said Schottenheimer. "Everybody always says that, but we have to be an excellent tackling team and that's something I take pride in. I think the tackling in our league has fallen off the last five, six, seven years, but I want the defenses I'm a part of to be outstanding tackling teams -- not give up the big plays, make people earn everything that they get."
Schottenheimer plans on working on one of the biggest part of playing defense everyday in practice.
"Tackling is a big part of this game and those who do it the best are the ones who are successful. You practice it every day in practice, whether it's the approach or the fundamentals," Schottenheimer said. "You don't always have to wrap them up and tackle them, but you can work on the fundamentals. "
With Schottenheimer the Lions are looking for an improvement over last season and Schottenheimer defense last season with the Washington Redskins was ranked tenth in the NFL. There will be some changes in personal and both Schottenheimer and Mornhinweg knows that is a big key in improvement over last season defense, and there could be a good number of changes to the starters when the 2002 season opens.