New scheme, new quarterbacks keep Lions' Sean Ryan on his toes
Allen Park — Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has received his share of praise as a bright spot during the team's disappointing season, but lost in that conversation has been the work of first-year quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan.
From the job he had done helping starting quarterback Matthew Stafford pick up and thrive in the team's new scheme, to the more difficult task of preparing a number of young, inexperienced backups to play on Sundays, Ryan has had success as a background player on the coaching staff.
"Sean is a really good football coach," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "He's smart. He's obviously been around championship football before, and I think does a really good job understanding the fundamentals and teaching at a good level where everybody can learn."
Ryan's latest accomplishment might be his most impressive, taking an undrafted rookie in David Blough and making him look like a capable veteran in his first NFL start.
"When he came in Monday, and we knew the direction we were going to go in and told him, he just said, 'I'm going to rip it," Ryan said of Blough. "That's what he said and that's what he did.
"I kind of had fun doing it. I think Stafford had fun doing it, just being there for it. We've just got to get the 'W,' then it would have been a better story."
Blough came out gunning against the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving, throwing for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. He wasn't unable to maintain that pace, but finished with a respectable line in the loss (22 of 38 for 280 yards, two touchdowns and an interception).
"I knew he was a confident guy," Ryan said. "He never batted an eye while playing. I wouldn't say I was surprised by it."
This week, Ryan has the unenviable task of preparing not only Blough, but brand-new backup Kyle Sloter, who has yet to throw a regular-season pass in the NFL. That task is magnified by the opponent, a dangerous Minnesota Vikings defense and its aggressive pass rush.
Sloter will be the 11th quarterback Ryan has worked with during his brief stint with the Lions, a challenge he's embraced.
"It's been busy," Ryan said. "Got to get these guys ready, that's what you do. You take a lot of pride in the fact you're able to pass the information along and get them up to speed as quickly as you can. I've enjoyed it."
The work Ryan is doing this season might go under the radar with fans, but is more likely to catch the eye of coaches potentially in need of a new offensive coordinator.
A 22-year coaching veteran who has worked with Eli Manning and Deshaun Watson at his previous stops, Ryan has built a solid resume. Ryan was reportedly Matt Rhule's offensive coordinator choice when the Jets made a run at the Baylor coach last offseason.