On January 1, the Detroit Lions fired head coach Jim Caldwell, but Detroit made a pretty big statement by terminating offensive line coach Ron Prince at the same time. When all other coaches and assistants still had a chance to return in 2018, the Lions made sure they were done with Prince, regardless of who their new head coach would be.
When all was said and done, long-time offensive line coach Jeff Davidson was hired in his place. Davidson has been coaching in the NFL since 1995, with a focus on the offensive line since 1998. He’s most recently helped pull the Chargers and Broncos’ running games out of the basement.
Davidson has only been working with his new cast of players in Detroit for a few weeks, but he has already made a pretty good impression among the offensive line room. On Wednesday night, Lions veteran guard T.J. Lang shared his thoughts on his new coach during the Lions’ “Taste of the Lions” event.
“Obviously, Jeff’s a guy who’s been around for a long time. He’s a former player himself,” Lang said. “He understands what it’s like sitting in those chairs. It’s been a good, I think, great addition to the team. I think him and both Hank (Fraley), the assistant o-line coach—Hank’s a guy who has played a long time, too.”
Hank Fraley was added to the new coaching staff back in mid-February after spending a year turning around UCLA’s running game as their offensive line coach. Fraley started 123 games in the NFL over a decade, mostly as a center.
Of course, it’s still extremely early in the offseason process. The Lions are only in Phase 2 of offseason workouts, and, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, practices can only consist of “individual and ‘perfect play’’ drills. In other words, big schematic changes are still to come.
“We’re not really into the thick of things yet,” Lang said. “I think we’re at a period now where it’s still, we’re getting to know each other a little bit, getting to know each other’s language, how we like to speak, how we like to do things, so that we can be on the same page once we start practicing.”
But expectations remain very high for this unit. With the addition of first-round draft pick Frank Ragnow, and the overhaul of the Lions’ running back squad, last year’s disappointing season is way in the rear-view mirror.
“I think everyone in that room, we have high expectations,” Lang said. “We’ve got lofty goals, but we also understand we’ve got a lot of work to do before we even think about playing football again.”