Detroit Lions strong safety James Ihedigbo was signed to form a solid safety pairing with the underrated Glover Quin Jr., and the Lions should have clearly delineated responsibilities between the free and strong safeties after both Quin and Louis Delmas effectively shared duties last year. Ihedgbo is an in-the-box maven who struggles in coverage, whereas Quin is a converted cornerback who can lock things up in coverage. The Lions safety tandem will be key next season, because the team’s depth at corner is questionable.
Ihedigbo experienced a breakout season under defensive backs coach Teryl Austin while with the Baltimore Ravens, as he was flying all over the field and was not a clear liability in coverage as he used to be in the past. Formerly a third safety and special teams player, Ihedigbo was a steady starter in Baltimore, using his play to earn a contract and immediate starting job with the Lions.
A good locker room guy, Ihedigbo likes what he sees in the Lions organization, and he believes that the Lions have the personality traits to win it all. Ihedigbo has won and lost in a Super Bowl, so he’s a good person to tune into when these topics come up. He said, via MLive.com’s Justin Rogers, “It’s one of those things, you can feel it. With this team, I can feel the makings of a championship-DNA team. Are we willing to sacrifice? That’s the question, and I know we are. There are guys in this locker room that are willing to pay the price, whatever it is, to put the work in to be a champion. Yeah, we definitely have that championship DNA.”
The Lions players have bought into a new, talented coaching staff, and it seems like they have taken a special liking to humble head coach Jim Caldwell, who has a much different personality than former head coach Jim Schwartz. While Schwartz did some nice things, he can’t earn the respect of his players or control the locker room as well as the more measured Caldwell, and Schwartz honestly seems like someone who is best off as an elite defensive coordinator rather than an up-and-down head coach.
Caldwell is a smooth-flowing river, and it sounds his players are ready to put the team before themselves. They added a star receiver who won a championship last year in Golden Tate, and their No. 1 wideout, Calvin Johnson, surely has sacrificed plenty in his career with the Lions organization.