Gunther goes off on defenders "turning down" tackles

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Detroit Lions defense, 2008-style, will apparently not be tolerated.

Graham Couch of the Kalamazoo Gazette reports at that new Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham was furious after looking at the film of the preseason loss last week to the Cleveland Browns.

"There's not going to be any excuses," Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said Wednesday minutes after the Lions wrapped up training camp, at least officially. "I can't tolerate it, and I won't. They're either going to tackle, or they're not going to play on this team."

Cunningham was particularly upset about what he perceived as a lack of "want-to" from Lions defenders during an 81-yard run by the Cleveland Browns' James Davis on Saturday.

"I'm flat pissed off, if you want to know the truth," Cunningham said, fuming more and more as he thought about it. "I don't tolerate that. I cannot tolerate turning down a tackle. We had four guys on that play last week turn it down, not miss it, turn it down, in my opinion."

Cunningham said he "exploded" at his defense while reviewing film of the game.

Cornerback Ramzee Robinson was the first to miss Davis, followed by safety LaMarcus Hicks and two other unidentified players.

"What's it like?" Robinson said of being the subject of one of Cunningham's tirades. "I can't put it into words. Just know you want to go to the bathroom right before it happens and come back when it's over.

"No player likes to be called out and be the center of attention on a bad mistake."

This may help explain the play on which Lions rookie S Louis Delmas clocked RB Aveion Cason and started a rather large altercation at practice the other day -- that was the first practice for the defense after Cunningham's blow-up.

Here's hoping Cunningham follows through on his threat to not keep players who are timid when it comes to tackling. It seemed to be a pervasive problem during last year's run to 0-16. At a minimum, it's good to see Gun showing emotion about it, and sharing his feelings with Lions fans.

Last year's head coach Rod Marinelli would refuse to acknowledge stuff like this, would calmly say he'd have to check the film before discussing it, and then would never follow up with the public on his feelings or what he was going to do about it.

They're talking about it in The Den!