Matt Patricia can’t be hired until at least Sunday, but some of his staff is apparently taking shape.
Alex Marvez of the Sporting News reported the Detroit Lions have decided to hire three assistant coaches, all with at least some tie to Patricia. Marvez reported Detroit will hire Brian Stewart to coach defensive backs and Jeff Davidson to coach the offensive line. Additionally, George Godsey will move from his defensive special projects role to quarterbacks coach.
The 50-year-old Davidson intersected with Patricia in 2004, the presumed next Detroit head coach's first season on the New England staff and Davidson’s last. Davidson was the Patriots' tight ends and offensive line coach that year, while Patricia was an offensive assistant.
Davidson left New England for Cleveland with Romeo Crennel after that season and has been an offensive line coach or offensive coordinator with the Browns, Panthers, Vikings, Chargers and Broncos ever since. His longest tenure, though, was with New England, from 1997 to 2004. So he would have both a relationship with Patricia and an understanding of what the Lions might be trying to do.
Last season, Davidson was Denver’s offensive line coach, and the Broncos gave up 52 sacks -- tied for 29th in the league with Arizona. Only two teams -- Houston and Indianapolis -- were worse.
Davidson played college football at Ohio State and played five seasons in the NFL -- four with the Broncos and one with the Saints. He’ll replace Ron Prince as the team’s offensive line coach.
Godsey spent three seasons with the Patriots from 2011 to 2013, first as an offensive assistant and then as a tight ends coach. He then moved to Houston under Bill O’Brien, and was the quarterbacks coach in 2014 and offensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016. Last season, he was brought onto the Lions staff as a defensive special projects assistant.
During his time in New England, he overlapped with both Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn.
The 39-year-old played quarterback at Georgia Tech before going into coaching, first in high school and then at UCF as a graduate assistant, then a quarterbacks coach and running backs coach, before heading to New England in 2011.
In Houston, he worked with Case Keenum, Tom Savage, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler and Thad Lewis during his time as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
He’ll replace Brian Callahan, who was the quarterbacks coach the past two seasons and who has already gotten a new job in Oakland as quarterbacks coach.
Stewart connected with Patricia for one season at Syracuse in 2001, when he coached defensive backs. That was also Patricia’s first year with the Orangemen (now Orange). From there, Stewart went to the NFL, where he was a defensive backs coach in Houston and San Diego. He coordinated defenses for two seasons in Dallas -- 2007 and 2008. In 2007, his unit was a top-10 defense (and held then-rookie Calvin Johnson to five catches for 51 yards in their meeting). In 2008, with another top-10 defense, the Cowboys were fifth against the pass.
He was let go by Dallas after the season, though, in a decision made by Jerry Jones.
Stewart went to Philadelphia for a season before spending most of this decade in college, first as the defensive coordinator at Houston and Maryland before coaching defensive backs at Nebraska for two seasons and then becoming the defensive coordinator at Rice last year. He was named interim head coach in November after David Bailiff was fired, until the team hired Mike Bloomgren has its head coach on Dec. 5. Bloomgren hired former Michigan coach Brian Smith as his defensive coordinator, potentially leaving Stewart in need of a new gig.
The Lions can’t formally announce a deal with Patricia until after Sunday’s Super Bowl concludes.