If you kept tabs on the staff constructed by Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell this offseason, you are aware it’s chock-full of former NFL players.
Including Campbell, who had a 10-year career with the Giants, Cowboys and Lions, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and assistants Duce Staley, Mark Brunell, Hank Fraley, Antwaan Randle-El and Kelvin Sheppard all had pro careers spanning from six to 17 years.
Not surprisingly, the ability to learn from people who have been in their shoes is resonating with Detroit’s roster.
“It’s really cool to see all the former players on staff because I’ve been fortunate to play under some guys who have played the game before and their level of understanding for how things go, and being able to be in your shoes, is kind of irreplaceable,” offensive lineman Taylor Decker said. “You can’t simulate that. You’ve either done it or you haven’t.”
Linebacker Alex Anzalone, who followed Campbell and Glenn from New Orleans, said their playing experience makes them both relatable.
“His leadership style is very contagious,” Anzalone said of Glenn. “His energy level, he’s passionate about ball. He played a long career, so he has the respect of guys immediately.”
Fraley, who took over as the Lions offensive line coach last season, is one of just a small group of coaching holdovers. Decker, who had his best season under Fraley’s leadership, went to bat for his position coach after last season, requesting whoever the Lions hired to replace fired coach Matt Patricia give strong consideration to keeping Fraley on board.
“I’ll just say flat out, one thing that I asked for is just give Hank an opportunity to interview for the job,” Decker said. “Don’t just clean house, because I think he does a really great job. I think he has a really great understanding of the game. He studies the hell out of everything and all the defenses. And I think his approach with delivering the information and coaching techniques is fantastic because he played the game for 11 years. I think he’s just good for the room.”