New Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia has turned to former NFL offensive lineman and veteran assistant coach Jeff Davidson to try and help fix some of Detroit's issues upfront along their offensive line last season.
Davidson, 50, played four years (1990-93) with the Denver Broncos before retiring due to a shoulder injury. He then started a coaching career that's lasted 24 years.
It's that playing experience, along with the knowledge gathered in the years following his playing days coaching, that Geoff Schwartz, a former player of Davidson's in both Carolina and Minnesota, thinks will bring a calming effect to Detroit's offensive line moving forward.
"I think when you have a coach who's played the game before, they just have a different perspective," Schwartz said of Davidson. "They are a little calming influence because they know things happen during the game. You get beat sometimes, the defense sometimes outwits you, it happens.
"The coaches that I've played for that have played the game are generally like, 'alright, well, we just got beat on that play.' They are not going to yell and scream as much. They are not going to nitpick as much. I'm not saying that Ron Prince was that type of coach, but a coach that's played before, that's typically how they are."
The Lions relieved Prince of his duties coaching Detroit's offensive line in January after the season concluded.
The Lions were the worst rushing team in the NFL last season, and quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked 47 times.
Health, or the lack thereof, was a big factor in Detroit's play upfront this past season. They started 10 different offensive line combinations due to injury.
General manager Bob Quinn said after the season he thought he had "good personnel on the offensive line," so he decided a new voice of leadership for that group was necessary.
Davidson spent the 1997-2004 seasons with the New England Patriots in various roles working with tight ends and offensive linemen. Quinn joined the Patriots in 2000, and worked in New England's front office until taking the Lions GM job following the 2015 season.
Patricia joined the Patriots as an offensive assistant in 2004, working alongside Davidson that season.
Davidson was most recently the offensive line coach in Denver last season, where the Broncos ranked 12th in rushing (115.8 yards per game).
Davidson was the offensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers from 2007-10, and an offensive line coach with the Minnesota Vikings (2011-15) and San Diego Chargers (2016).
"He's a solid coach," Schwartz said of Davidson. "He was my OC (offensive coordinator) in Carolina and he was my offensive line coach when I was with the Vikings.
"He played football. He knows the game well. He knows the Patriots staff because he was there with (Bob) Quinn, I believe, and probably Patricia at some point. So, it makes sense for him to be hired."
Davidson walks into a situation in Detroit where four of the team's five starting offensive linemen are under contract next season – T.J. Lang, Rick Wagner, Taylor Decker and Graham Glasgow. Third-year lineman Joe Dahl, who started three games at guard last season, is also under contract.