Paul Pasqualoni as defensive coordinator among Lions’ coaching hires

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — A couple weeks behind because his hiring couldn’t be formalized until after the New England Patriots played in Super Bowl LII, new Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia is wasting little time getting his staff in place.

The Lions announced five hires and two reassignments on Tuesday, headlined by the addition of Paul Pasqualoni as defensive coordinator.

Lions new defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni in the crowd during the introductory press conference for new Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia on Wednesday at the training facility in Allen Park.

A 46-year coaching veteran, Pasqualoni, 68, hired Patricia as an offensive assistant at Syracuse in 2001, his final college job before moving on to New England in 2004.

"Coach Pasqualoni and I have a long history together," Patricia said. "He was kind of enough to kind of give me my start in the Division 1 level. He really mentored me a lot and taught me a lot as far as how the game should be looked at, how to game plan, how to strategize and how to really get the most out of young players. Kind of a natural fit.”

Pasqualoni served as the head coach at Syracuse from 1991-2004, compiling a 107-59-1 record. In the years since, he’s held a number of NFL jobs, coaching the tight ends, linebackers and defensive line in Dallas and the defensive lines in Chicago and Houston. He also had a one-year stint as the defensive coordinator in Miami and a three-year return to the college ranks as the head coach on UConn.

Pasqualoni spent the past two years coaching the defensive line at Boston College.

"We’ve always maintained contact and connections through the course of the years,” Patricia said of Pasqualoni. “Really kind of followed some similar, I’ll call it background, from people that we’ve worked for. So, there’s a lot of common ground from what we believe in, how a defense should be played, how it should be run, the fundamentals behind it. You know, the core teaching of what should be accomplished first and foremost. There’s a huge comfort level for me to have him on board and to be able to entrust him to handle that."

In addition to Pasqualoni, the Lions have hired Jeff Davidson (offensive line), Brian Stewart (defensive backs), Chris White (tight ends) and David Corrao (director of football research). Two members of Jim Caldwell’s staff, Al Golden and George Godsey, will have new roles. Golden will coach the linebackers and Godsey the quarterbacks.

Davidson will be the key hire after the team finished last in rushing and allowed quarterback Matthew Stafford to be sacked 47 times in 2017.

A former Ohio State Buckeye lineman who played four seasons in the NFL, Davidson has been coaching for 22 years. He worked eight seasons in New England and had a one-year overlap with Patricia in 2004. Davidson most recently coached the Denver Broncos' offensive line.

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Stewart is a 25-year coaching veteran who has spent much of his time in the college ranks. He worked as a defensive coordinator at Rice last season and he and Patricia were on the same Syracuse staff in 2001.

Godsey, a former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Houston Texans, joined the Lions' staff last season. He was an offensive assistant with the Patriots in 2011.

Corrao and White are also connected with Patricia from his time at Syracuse.

Corrao was a senior player personnel analyst at Mississippi last season and the defensive coordinator at Northern Michigan in 2016. He previously had an eight-year stint working with the Miami Dolphins linebackers.

White worked as a senior quality control director of football research and special projects at UConn last season. He last worked in the NFL in 2012, as an assistant special teams coach with the Vikings.