When the Detroit Lions revealed the hire of Mark Brunell to their staff to coach quarterbacks recently, many folks were excited, but for different reasons.
Most probably were folks of a certain age who remembered Brunell the player and the excitement he brought to the field, but it’s clear he could also have the right personality to come in and make an immediate difference as a coach given all he’s seen in the league to this point in time.
Recently, Brunell completed an interview with DetroitLions.com writer Tim Twentyman in which he delved into several of his philosophies about the game and his new job. Perhaps the most interesting quote revolved around why Brunell thinks he is cut out to do the job. As he said, he believes he’s seen enough in order to impart wisdom to young players at the position.
He said in the piece:
“But where I think this will really hit home for these guys is that listen, I’ve been traded, I’ve been cut, I’ve been benched, I’ve been booed, I’ve been told, ‘you’re just not what we want,’ I’ve been kicked to the curb. I’ve gone through just about anything an NFL quarterback can go through.
“So sure, I can identify with Jared Goff, or whoever is our starter, but I can also identify with the kid who’s just new to the building, who’s young and nobody really expects to even make a team. I’ve been that guy, too. I think players can respect that. I hope they can at least.”
There’s no doubting the fact that likely Lions quarterback Jared Goff fits that profile, even if he is not referenced in as many words. The Lions can’t comment on Goff officially right now because it will be another month before the trade becomes official, but it’s clear the opportunity Brunell will have to impart wisdom on a young quarterback will be very strong.
Arguably, this shows why it’s the perfect situation for both Goff and Brunell to be walking into together when the change does take place as expected.
Mark Brunell’s Experience Fits Jared Goff
The genius of the move involves getting a guy into the mix that understands what players are going through because he’s been there. From a teaching perspective, that is a huge win for the Lions, considering their staff is loaded with guys who have this kind of experience as a former player. At quarterback, though, such experience adds an extra layer to the mix. There’s few people who have seen exactly what a quarterback sees and will know exactly how they feel, so theoretically, having such a person on a staff is a huge bonus.
A player like Jared Goff is going to come in with his confidence reeling a bit, but Brunell has been through situations just like Goff has, as he explained himself. As Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said, Brunell has been gearing up to be a coach since his playing days are over. Just because he hasn’t coached at the NFL level does not mean he is doomed to failure in this instance. Serving as a mentor for high school players could be a major advantage, given Brunell has been forced to think outside the box of what it means to be successful in the NFL. Now, he has seen what it takes to be successful as a football player in general and adapted his teaching as such.
Though Brunell and the Lions can’t talk about Goff specifically, everybody else can draw the parallels for themselves. It’s clear with this quote that Goff might be landing in the right spot off a messy breakup with Sean McVay.
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Mark Brunell Career Stats
If it was real-world experience the Lions were looking for, they hit a home run with their new quarterback coach. Brunell was one of the most well-known quarterbacks of the 1990s and 2000s, and his career that spanned from 1993 until 2011. A former fifth-round pick of the Green Bay Packers, Brunell was dealt to the Jacksonville Jaguars and put the upstart franchise on the map in a major way. He made three Pro Bowls and made the playoffs three times, reaching the 1996 and 1999 AFC Championship games. Brunell was traded to the Washington Football Team in 2004, and stuck there until 2008 when he joined the New Orleans Saints and managed to claim Super Bowl XLIV as the backup to Drew Brees. In 2010 and 2011 he was the backup for Mark Sanchez as the New York Jets made a run to the AFC Championship but lost. Before he took the job in Detroit, he was seen on ESPN as a commentator and coached high school football in Florida while being a fixture on radio and television.
Statistically, Brunell finished his career strong, with 32,072 passing yards and 184 touchdowns. The Lions were looking for a steady hand to mentor their young quarterback room, and it’s clear that he has he chops and philosophy to pass the test.
In the end, Goff might be the one who ends up scoring the most.