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Matthew Morris Matthew Morris BVM Sports Journalist

Mark Brunell: Jaguars legend now Detroit Lions QB coach

DETROIT (BVM) – Mark Brunell appeared on Episode 1 of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” The popular show features the Detroit Lions this year where Brunell is the quarterbacks coach. During the episode, Brunell and other Lions coaches talked about how the team has multiple former players on the coaching staff. Brunell, along with head coach Dan Campbell, Antwan Randel El, Kelvin Sheppard and Hank Fraley, all spent time in the NFL. 

That experience can certainly help the coaches relate to the players and that has been the case for Brunell with Lions starting quarterback Jared Goff.

“We compare notes at times,” Brunell said in June. “There have been some times where he’s gone through something last year where I certainly can identify with that because it can get tough.”

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Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) works with quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell at practice. (Credit: Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

Goff and the Lions had a tough first season together under the new coaching regime. The team went 3-13-1, while Goff threw for 3,245 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. It was a tough season, but after a 19year career in the NFL, Brunell has had the kind of season Goff did. 

“I had a lot of those years that didn’t feel great,” Brunell said. “If you play long enough you’re going to have to go through it.

However, the Lions QB coach is entering the 2022 season with a lot of confidence for his starting quarterback. Brunell has been speaking highly of Goff throughout the offseason heading into training camp. 

“When I say he has had an excellent spring I’m not kidding, he really has done very well,” Brunell said.

It’s not just Goff either. The whole Detroit team seems to be on the rise and is gelling well together as shown on “Hard Knocks.” Campbell seems to be having buy-in from his players and the team has charismatic leaders like running back Jamal Williams. 

In particular, Brunell is excited for Goff. He is more comfortable with the offensive scheme in year two in Detroit, and Brunell likes the weapons they put around Goff. 

“We have a great O-line, our running backs are solid, receiving core is great,” Brunell said. “Heck, if you’re the quarterback of the Detroit Lions and you look around and you have all these pieces in place, you really start looking forward to the season.” 

Along with drafting Jameson Williams, the receiving room added DJ Chark and has Josh Reynolds as well as Amon-Ra St. Brown returning. Tight end T.J. Hockenson is coming back for the fifth year of his rookie deal and has the potential to be one of the top tight ends in the league if he can stay healthy. Meanwhile, the best part of the Lions’ offense might be the running backs which features Jamal Williams and D’Andre Swift. 

In his second year as the quarterbacks coach and second year coaching in the NFL, Brunell feels like he is a part of something special in Detroit. 

Even with all the excitement around this Detroit team, Brunell was reminded of that time recently when

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Tony Boselli, left, and his presenter Mark Brunell, right, unveil Boselli’s bust during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement. (Credit: The Repository / Scott Heckel / USA TODAY NETWORK)

he introduced former Jacksonville Jaguars teammate Tony Boselli during his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“It’s incredible,” Brunell said during an episode of the “Boselli: A Podcast Series.” “When he gets inducted, it will be one of the best moments in Jaguars history.”

Brunell is right up there with Boselli as far as Jaguars legends are concerned. The California native was originally drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1993. Unfortunately for Brunell, that was Brett Farve’s second year in Green Bay, so he was traded to Jacksonville after his first year in the league. 

It was in Jacksonville that Brunell built his legacy in the NFL. He had already had a successful college career at University of Washington, making it to three straight Rose Bowls, winning two of them, and being named Rose Bowl MVP in 1991. He also won a National Championship with the Huskies in 1991. 

In Jacksonville, Brunell made it to three Pro Bowls and had four straight playoff appearances including a trip to the AFC Championship in 1996. Brunell would eventually lose his starting spot to Byron Leftwich and then be traded to Washington, but not before he became the best quarterback in Jaguars’ history.

Brunell leads Jacksonville in all-time passing yards (25,698), passing touchdowns (144), QB record (63-54-0) and completions (2,184). 

His career would take him from Washington to New Orleans where he was the backup for Drew Brees and won a Super Bowl with the Saints in 2009. It was also in New Orleans where he met Dan Campbell, who played for the Saints for one season while Brunell was there. 

From there he played with the New York Jets for two seasons before retiring after the 2011 season. Brunell then began coaching at the high school level before taking the job in Detroit prior to last season. 

Now in his second season with the Lions, Brunell is trying to bring the success that he had during his playing career to Detroit and to Goff.