It took a little longer than expected (almost 12 full months), but Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli finally got his man.
Marinelli announced Wednesday the hiring of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers' assistant Joe Barry, who will replace the recently dismissed Donnie Henderson as Detroit's defensive coordinator. Barry served as the Bucs' linebackers coach for six seasons.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The hiring of Barry didn't come as a surprise. Barry was Marinelli's first choice last January, but attempts to lure him to Detroit were spurned by Tampa because Barry was still within his contract. The Lions ultimately settled for Henderson.
After a forgettable 3-13 season in '06, in which the defense struggled mightily, the Lions again turned to Barry, who accepted the position to work with Marinelli -- his former fellow coach in Tampa and father-in-law.
"I know what's he's all about," Barry said of Marinelli during his press conference, "I know what he believes in, I know what he stresses, I know what he wants, and I have the same beliefs. The reasons I came here were: Number one, Rod Marinelli. Number two, I believe the Detroit Lions can win, and that will be my number one goal."
The family connection isn't necessarily the strongest tie between the two, however. Like Marinelli, Barry is intimately familiar the "Tampa 2" defensive scheme employed by Detroit and that was initiated under former Bucs' head coach Tony Dungy.
The defensive philosophy shared between all of Dungy's assistants, past and present, was something Henderson could never grasp. Marinelli explained on Wednesday that it wasn't necessarily Henderson's fault, and that the strategies are learned through feel and experience rather than 'X's' and 'O's.'
"I went and got the best guy to run this defense, to get this thing exactly where I want," said Marinelli. "He's been trained with Tony Dungy under this system and under (long-time Bucs' defensive coordinator) Monte Kiffin and he understands it, every part of it. He trained with Lovie Smith. I worked with him, I know what he's got and that's what I'm excited about."
In Barry's six years in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers' defense has finished with a top five ranking four different times. Linebackers Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles were also Pro Bowl selections during his tenure. Brooks was the league's defensive MVP in Barry's second year as the linebacker coach.
He previously served as a defensive quality control assistant in San Francisco and coached linebackers in UNLV and Northern Arizona.
Barry was convinced that, despite a bad showing in 2006, the Lions' defense already has the necessary talent to make a splash in 2007.
"I think we have two great -- not good, great -- players in Shaun Rogers and Cory Redding," he said. "I have not watched them play a lot of football this year, but I know them from their past and looking at them coming out of college. They are both two dominant defensive linemen and that's what you have to have in this package."
Added Barry: "I loved Ernie Sims coming out last year. Again, I didn't get a chance to really watch him (this year) but I know what he's about, I know what type of football player he is. Boss Bailey, the same thing, I was at his pro workout a few years ago and I know what he can do. Kenoy Kennedy? Shoot, great safety. And you got to have a safety; you got to have the hammer in this package.
"I think the base is there, so I believe in mentioning those five names that I feel good, and I feel excited about it."