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Detroit Lions 2018 Pride of Detroit Awards: Coach of the Year

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Which Lions coach deserves Coach of the Year honors?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

2018 was a year of transition for the Detroit Lions. With first-time head coach Matt Patricia leading the way, the Lions went for a full culture change. Needless to say, it was a rough transition for the majority of the season.

Coaching certainly wasn’t the team’s strength in 2018, as the team was undergoing a change in philosophy on offense and a full schematic change on defense. To expect on-field success and an immediate buy in was probably unrealistic, but there were signs that the message was sticking by the year’s end.

So here are the nominations for Detroit Lions Coach of the Year.

Bo Davis - Defensive line coach

If there was a revelation for the Detroit Lions in 2018, it was the play of their interior defensive linemen. By the end of the year, A’Shawn Robinson, Damon Harrison Sr. and Da’Shawn Hand formed one of the most feared trios in the NFL. Throw in a career year for Romeo Okwara and Devon Kennard (who essentially played as a lineman) and you have a pretty impressive resume for Davis’ first year with the Lions.

Davis’ biggest accomplishment was likely turning around the career of Robinson. Reunited from their times at Alabama, Davis was able to pull out all of the potential from Robinson, and now the Lions believe they have one of the best defensive tackles in the league.

Jeff Davidson - Offensive line coach

Davidson has the benefit of taking over for Ron Prince, one of the most criticized coaches in recent Lions history. Thanks to Davidson’s coaching—along with a couple of key roster additions in Frank Ragnow and Kerryon Johnson—the Lions were able to improve their yards per carry from a league worst 3.4 yards per carry to 4.1 (t-26th).

There were still some serious issues with pass protection last year, but at times, the offensive line finally looked like they were living up to their talent potential, which is far more than we could say during the Ron Prince era.

David Walker - Running backs coach

A week ago, the Lions announced that Walker is retiring from coaching football to spend more time with his family. He goes out with his ability to keep his head high, as Detroit saw several of their long-standing rushing droughts come to an end in 2018.

Kerryon Johnson enjoyed one of the best seasons for a Lions running back since the Barry era and as a rookie, no less. Additionally, Theo Riddick set a career high in yards per carry (4.3), as did Zach Zenner (4.8).

But there was also LeGarrette Blount, who set a career low in yards per carry (2.7) in 2018.

Paul Pasqualoni - Defensive coordinator

Pasqualoni was a largely unpopular hire. When it looked like he was going to be the guy, only 40 percent of Lions fans wanted him to be calling the plays.

While the Lions defense undoubtedly took a step back, especially early in the year, the weekly gameplan was rarely to blame. In fact, Bill Belichick praised Detroit’s game plan against the Rams, crediting them with the inspiration for the strategy that held Los Angeles to a season-low three points in Super Bowl 53.

Obviously, it’s a little hard to parse what is influenced by Matt Patricia and what is Pasqualoni’s doing, but there is little doubt that the veteran defensive coordinator played a part in turning the defense into the team’s strength by the end of the season.

Poll

Who was the Lions’ coach of the Year?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Bo Davis - Defensive line
    (309 votes)
  • 6%
    Jeff Davidson - Offensive line
    (30 votes)
  • 6%
    David Walker - Running backs
    (26 votes)
  • 15%
    Paul Pasqualoni - Defensive coordinator
    (66 votes)
431 votes total Vote Now

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