Offensive Coordinator Daniel Lynds
Coach Lynds is the brains behind the Seagulls high powered offensive unit. He is entering into his second season with the team, but he comes to us with over 20 years of coaching experience both in Japan and in the US. Coach Lynds has won championships on multiple levels, and knows what it takes to be a top team. His offense will look to put up big numbers this season in route to the Seagulls first title since 2013.
Coming to Japan
What made you come to Japan?
I first came to Japan in 1996 at the request of a friend. This friend was a former NFL player who was undergoing a rehabilitation program as well coaching at the junior college where I had just begun coaching. During this time an older coach who had retired from coaching in the US began coaching in Japan. The older coach had a bit of a tough time adjusting to Japanese culture and play style. I was 24 at the time, and the older coach in Japan wanted to bring over a younger coach to help out. Our mutual friend, the coach at the junior college, connected us and I was invited to come coach in Japan.
I had no idea what Japanese football was about. Better yet, I didn't even know that they played football in Japan before the coach contacted me about the job.
What did you think of the level of play when you came to Japan?
My first exposure was the playbook. Before I left for Japan they showed me the playbook. My first thoughts on the playbook was that it was very simplistic and elementary. I wasn't too impressed with what I saw at the schematic level. I felt confident knowing that I had a lot more that I could implement that would make the team much more competitive.
When I arrived in Japan and began to get to know the players, saw how motivated they were, and understood what type of guys they were, I was really impressed with the execution level of the simple schemes that they used. They weren't doing difficult things system-wise, but they were executing the things that they were doing really well.
How has Japanese football changed over the years?
It's completely changed. In the 20 plus years that I've been here, foreign coaches have been sprinkled into the mix, foreign players have been sprinkled in, and the world in general has shrunk. There's a Starbucks on every corner now. The shrinking of the world on the technology front has had an effect on football in Japan as well.
Football, as with many other forms of technology has been copied and improved by the Japanese. They've seen what the best teams in America are doing and they've copied it. They've modified it to fit into this type of league and style of play. You're not able to practice everyday so some of the stuff you have to throw out, but the execution level has stayed on a high plain considering the amount of time most teams have to practice.
Now, the things that teams are executing are much more complicated than before. As an offensive coordinator we're planning against the top teams in the league that are running coverages that you'd see on Sunday in the NFL. Especially the top teams in the league. They do a great job of keeping up with everything that's happening in the states.
I'd say that the level is comparable to a high division 1 level program, and on equal footing when compared to Canada scheme-wise. I think some NFL teams would look at our playbook and be surprised at some of the stuff that we are doing.
Life In Japan Outside of Football
How is life in Japan outside of football?
20 years ago it was Japan. It was different. It was riding the train. It was eating all Japanese food. It was real Japan living.
Nowadays it's much different. The world has shrunken. Anything that you would ever want from back home you can get here. Like I said earlier, there's a Starbucks on every corner now. You can get Netflix and cable television. Everything is really accessible. It wasn't like that 20 years ago. It's really easy to live here.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to Izakaya hop and mingle in with the culture if I have a lot of free time.
I'm an old offensive lineman, so I'm big on food. I like to try new foods, I like to try new drinks.
There's also an opportunity to do a bit of traveling. Visiting shrines and checking out Japanese festivals are interesting.
Advice for Potential Future Seagulls
Why should guys choose Japan over other countries to play internationally?
If guys are thinking about coming to a place where they are going to be systematic challenged, and not be bored playing football internationally Japan is the place for them.
Europe has a similar situation, but I don't think that Europe has evolved schematically the way that Japan has evolved. Development of football in Europe was largely focused on bringing in dominant foreign players, but not much was changed schematically. Japan began by bringing in coaches to implement schemes, later followed by dominant foreign players. I believe this approach has given Japan a leg up, and it shows when Japan plays other European teams in international competition.
There may not be a manpower advantage that favors the Japanese, but team Japan is ahead in terms of scheme, execution, and fundamentals.
Any words of advice for someone who may be looking to come to Japan to play or coach?
Don't let the distance fool you. Don't say "wow! That's Japan so everything is going to be so different." When you get here you find out pretty quickly that football is football. The Japanese take football extremely seriously and do a good job with it. Don't think that you're coming down a level to be here in Japan.
It's an extension after your college career to play at a higher level, to play with better players, advance your craft as a football player, and also take advantage of cultural and business opportunities. The lifestyle here really fits some kids well. Some players may say, "I want another shot at the NFL," so they'll have an opportunity to work towards that goal Monday through Friday. Another guy might say "the NFL didn't work out so I will use my weekdays to further a career in business." There are opportunities to make a second career and build a life for after football. It is what you make of it.
The final advice about that would be, when you come here be mature and use your time wisely. You will have time so make sure that while you're here you live life to the fullest.