06/19/13Author: Tim Twentyman - DetroitLions.com
DE Willie Young already impacted by Jim Washburn
Willie Young admits that he knew little about new co-defensive line coach Jim Washburn before he joined the Detroit Lions' coaching staff back in January.
Young had obviously heard the name before, and new that he was current defensive line coach Kris Kocurek's mentor, but beyond that, Young didn't know what to expect.
"He brings a lot to the game," said Young after going through the offseason training program and mini-camp with Washburn. "He brings a lot to the table. He's the originator of this (Wide-9) scheme, so all the little things you can tweak in the scheme of a defense, he can do it."
Young says that since Washurn's hire, he's filled almost a whole notebook of little hints, tips and nuances passed along to him by Washburn to help him master his craft.
"I'm talking about things so small, but they pay off in the long run," Young said. "I'm talking about things so small that I probably wouldn't have wasted my time with it had he not brought it to my attention and put a different perspective on how to look at it."
That's good to hear, because the Lions are counting on Young to take big leap forward in his development, now entering his fourth season. He was signed to a one-year deal this offseason, making 2013 essentially a tryout year for his future as a Lion.
Young should get plenty of opportunities to make plays as part of the defensive end rotation withJason Jones and Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah.
"He definitely has his ways of getting you to play this defense with your best potential," Young said. "Just the way he approaches players. He's honest. He doesn't sugar coat anything. If you suck (he'll say you suck). He definitely has a way of getting his point across. Every day he's got something new."
Young certainly seems to be benefitting from the 14 years of NFL coaching experience – all along the defensive line – Washburn provides. But he's not the only one, according to defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham.
"It makes me smile every day that I see him," Cunningham said. "I think Jim's one of the greatest coaches I've ever been around. He is something. It's all about the game and he's personable, he's tough, he's consistent. Those linemen will respond.
"Most of all is Kris Kocurek working with him. You know, Jim coached him, he recruited him, spent a lot time on that farm in Texas and they know each other real well. So, the camaraderie between the two is kind of going through the group. I see a much more cohesive unit."