By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – New Detroit Lions safety James Ihedigbo had the interest of various teams before he ultimately decided to sign with the Lions almost two weeks after visiting the team’s headquarters in Allen Park.
The Lions have had talented players, and they added more this season, most notably Ihedigbo and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate, both of who have played on Super Bowl-winning teams. While the Lions often have enough pieces to be competitive, they have a reputation for faltering down the stretch, and they lived up to that in 2013, losing six of their last seven games and falling from first in the NFC North to out of playoff contention.
Ihedigbo said Detroit is doing what it needs to do to turn the team’s fortunes around – acquiring players with postseason success and introducing a coach that will hold players accountable.
“You bring in players that have Super Bowl experience, have playoff experience – myself, Golden Tate, and then as well you have a coaching staff that have won Super Bowls and been to big games and understand how to coach and motivate men,” Ihedigbo said in a phone interview Friday. “The key in Detroit hasn’t been talent at all. That’s not lacking. It’s truly just the mindset and the consistency of players across the board. The number one thing to any good team is accountability – accountability and consistency from your best players.
“You always have to say, ‘Your best players have to play their best when their best is needed,'” Ihedigbo continued. “That’s the consistency that needs to take place in Detroit throughout the season, not just for the first part, not for the middle, not for the end, but for all 20-something games that we plan on playing.”
Among the factors that drew Ihedigbo to Detroit, the new safety listed familiarity with the defense the Lions will run as well as a roster “stacked with talent,” as he put it Friday. Meeting with new head coach Jim Caldwell sealed the deal.
“His passion, desire and the direction that he wants to take this team,” Ihedigbo said. “Wanting to be a part of something special, and winning another Super Bowl, and I believe we can do it here in Detroit.
“He understands the game of football, he understands what it takes to win, he understands how to go about doing that,” Ihedigbo added. “Him being in town is a great, great positive change for not only the city of Detroit but for the Detroit Lions.”
The Lions needed a safety after they released Louis Delmas earlier in the offseason. Ihedigbo, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, where both Caldwell and new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin coached last season, will be playing alongside Glover Quin. The two both live in Houston in the offseason and are already working out four times a week at a facility.
“It’s awesome when you come together with someone who’s like-minded as you in terms of his work ethic, his commitment to excellence, the desires and things that he wants to see from his teammates as well as himself,” Ihedigbo said. “It definitely resonated and I’m excited to be working along him.”
Ihedigbo did not sign particularly quickly with the Lions, but he said the visit went well.
“It was a busy day, a long day, but it was just great to see the facility, meet the head coach, meet with the coordinator, defensive backs coach, meet the strength and conditioning coach,” Ihedigbo said. “Just the environment, the welcoming atmosphere, family- and players-first mentality that Detroit has, just feeling how much I can help impact this team and help continue to guide this team in the right direction, be a leader on this team along with the leaders it already has.”
Ihedigbo already has one Super Bowl ring, but he wants another one, and despite the dismal track record of the Lions, Ihedigbo believes he can get that kind of hardward in Detroit.
“This team definitely can do it,” he said.