ALLEN PARK – Most coaches go through changes every offseason. This is especially true when you are losing and the Detroit Lions have lost a lot.
Which means a large chunk of their staff is probably headed for a change – and it’s already happening.
Defensive line coach Bo Davis is expected to take the same position with the University of Texas, according to 24/7 Sports. Davis followed Matt Patricia to Detroit in 2018 and has coached the defensive line for the past three seasons.
The line has seen some success over the years, including Romeo Okwara going from one sack in two seasons with the Giants to 19 sacks in three seasons with the Lions. Ten of those sacks came this year alone which was the league’s 10th best. The advanced analysis loved him too, with ProFootballFocus ranking his pass ninth among advanced players.
But Okwara was more the exception to the rule than the rule itself. The Lions’ pass rush was among the worst in the league for the past two years, and their run defense was also number one this season. They set the franchise record for yards and runs allowed in a season overall, and with Matt Patricia out, much of the defensive staff is expected to be on the move this offseason.
“I have no idea what’s going to happen after the season,” defensive coordinator Cory Undlin said last month. “But we all know how this business works. And when you don’t win games, then, you know, it usually costs people jobs. I’m not assuming we’re all … laid off. I do not know that. But, I’ve seen it happen before, and we’ll all deal with it accordingly when it’s done, and they’ll make those decisions.
Undlin’s future remains uncertain, as does linebacker coach Ty McKenzie and defensive back coach Steve Gregory.
One assistant who has been praised for his job in Detroit is offensive line coach Hank Fraley, but he is now interviewing for the same position with the Cincinnati Bengals. according to the Detroit Free Press. Fraley has taken over from Jeff Davidson this season, and the offensive line has become a force this season despite so many injuries to the front. Frank Ragnow was named to his first Pro Bowl at center, while Taylor Decker had an elite season at left tackle.
“He did a great job,” interim head coach Darrell Bevell said last month. “This has not been easy. He had a little bit of juggling he had to do, guys in and out of the roster, moving the guys. I think the biggest impact he’s had is probably on these young guys. Obviously Decker is going to play as he is, Frank is still – kinda think of him as a young man – (I’m talking about) Jonah (Jackson) and Matt Nelson, those guys. Take a guy who’s a converted defensive lineman, to get him to play at the level he’s played, I think that speaks to Hank’s training. He and Billy (Yates, assistant offensive line coach) are doing a really good job. They are heavily involved in the racing game and the game plan and in its implementation. He’s a great communicator, he’s a great teacher, he has a good demeanor about him and he handles these guys, I think he complements all these different personalities that they have up there.
Bevell’s future remains uncertain. He was greatly appreciated for the work he did after joining the organization as an offensive coordinator in 2019, and was so respected that he was appointed interim head coach after Matt Patricia was fired over the weekend. -end of Thanksgiving. He was interviewed for the full-time job on Tuesday, though he’s likely far away for the job. San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh interviews today.
Special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs was fired in the final month of the season after calling his own fake punt in the fourth quarter of a game against Tennessee.