Allen Park — The Detroit Lions coaching staff is going to look wildly different in 2020.
Days after the team parted way with four assistant coaches and two members of the strength and conditioning staff, two more assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, announced they are stepping away from the game.
“Coach Pasqualoni notified me this week that he will be stepping away from the Lions to be closer to his family,” Lions coach Patricia said in a statement. “Coach P is one of the best men I’ve ever been around, on both personal and professional levels. I owe him so much and I’m grateful of the impact he had on our players, coaches and support staff. He will continue to be a great sounding board for me as a coach, father and leader. I wish him and his family well as they begin the new year together.”
Patricia hired Pasqualoni, 70, in February 2018, reuniting the Lions head coach with the man who made Patricia an offensive assistant at Syracuse in 2001, his final college job before moving on to New England in 2004.
This season, the Lions' defense ranked last in passing yards allowed per game (284.4), 31st in yards allowed per game (400.4), and tied for 29th in sacks (28).
Pasqualoni's decision to step away was in direct contrast to comments he made last month, when asked about the possibility of retirement.
"I'm going to be coaching — I hope I'm coaching — for a long time," Pasqualoni said in December. "I have no intention of not working."
In addition to Pasqualoni's departure, the Lions also announced that offensive line coach Jeff Davidson is taking a leave from coaching.
Davidson joined Patricia's staff two days after the coach was hired by the Lions.
“Coach Davidson recently informed me that he will take an indefinite leave from coaching," Patricia said. "Jeff was an invaluable resource to me during the past two seasons and his leadership will be greatly missed. He has left the door open to a coaching return in future years and I fully support his personal decision to spend time away from the game. I thank him for his dedication to our team and wish him and his family all the best.”
Davidson drew a difficult task, having to reshape an offensive line that had struggled to reach its potential under former assistant Ron Prince. During the past two seasons, the unit made incremental gains, but still fell short of expectations.
The Lions finished in the bottom half of the league in both sacks allowed and yards per carry. Davidson's best accomplishment was the development of young starters Frank Ragnow and Joe Dahl.
With the departures of Pasqualoni and Davidson, the Lions now have six openings on the coaching staff. On Tuesday, special teams coordinator John Bonamego, linebackers coach Al Golden, defensive backs coach Brian Stewart, tight ends coach Chris White were fired, along with head of strength of conditioning Harold Nash and assistant strength and performance coach Rodney Hill.
Defensive line coach Bo Davis is only top-level defensive assistant remaining from last year's staff. There's more continuity on the offensive side, where coordinator Darrell Bevell, quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan, running backs coach Kyle Caskey and wide receivers coach Robert Prince remain on staff.