American Football

Notes: The secret Detroit Lions coach to John Cominsky’s success


Detroit Lions vs Buffalo Bills
Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

John Cominsky has credited a little-known Detroit Lions coach for some of his success, but that coach thinks the relationship goes both ways.

This past week’s Twentyman in the Huddle episode hosted by the Detroit Lions’ Tim Twentyman featured a 20 minute interview with quality control coach Wayne Blair. The entire episode can be seen on the team’s official YouTube channel or in an embedded player on the team’s website. Blair was added to the defensive coaching staff in March 2022 as part of last offseason’s wave of staff hires.

While the interview (especially in the second half of the video) touches on coach Blair’s assessment of the defense and things like player skillset versatility, what’s really interesting and different is the sort of non-football stuff. At length in the interview, Twentyman and his guest discuss the tasks of shaping young players moving to the next phase of their development not just as football players but as people and members of a team.

Joining the Lions with two decades of coaching experience at the collegiate and high school levels, Blair is the kind of coach who deeply understands and appreciates the mentoring aspect of being a coach. When he talks about the cohesion and culture of the organization, the viewer gets the sense of gravity and inclusiveness all those years of experience pours into the way he approaches the job.

For example, when the topic turns to his relationship with John Cominsky and the work he’s done to help develop the Commish into a valuable piece of the Lions defense, coach Blair flips it around; he says working with Cominsky helped him become a better coach and all the stuff Cominsky does helps defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn run a better defense. Showing tremendous humility and eagerness to spread the credit, he’s the kind of inspirational leader that fits right into this coaching staff.

These kinds of interviews are a really nice way of letting the fans get to know more of the staff and behind the scenes work that don’t always make the headlines. This is especially true for coaching staff members like quality control coaches, where the job description is not as obvious to us as fans. When coach Blair says it’s like being a jack of all trades, and extends to doing a whole range of stuff like technology work as well as “actual football,” he’s not kidding. It’s always impressive to see how experienced and high quality the coaching staff Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes have assembled across the board.

Now, on to the rest of your weekend Notes:

  • Jared Goff was pretty damn good in the second half of the season. Horizontal axis is first half (left = bad, right = good) and vertical axis is second half (up = good, down = bad). Upper left quadrant means bad early and good later:

  • SumerSports Data Scientist Tej Seth was on The Monday Grind podcast a few days ago talking about the state of the NFC North. Granted, it’s a betting podcast so there is more focus on things like betting lines and such than in some other podcasts, but Seth runs through all four teams in the division and has some interesting things to say about each (and a lot about the Lions).

  • I did not know this amazing factoid about Barry Sanders’ talent on defense:

  • The Athletic’s Colton Pouncy and Nick Baumgardner posted a new episode of their podcast One of These Years. This week’s episode has the hosts making early predictions on the 53-man roster. You can listen to the entire episode in web players on Spotify.

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