The Detroit Lions announced Dan Campbell's coaching staff on Wednesday, and this group is long on one attribute that separates it from its competitors in the league now and, perhaps, from all of NFL history: playing experience, and tons of it.
Campbell's staff has a whole 90 years on NFL rosters.
The group starts with Campbell himself, who joined the league as a third-round pick in 1999 and lasted 11 years, until 2009.
Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn joined the league as an undrafted free agent, spent his rookie year on the Giants' practice squad, then spent seven years on the Broncos' and 49ers' active rosters, winning two Super Bowls along the way.
Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn was the 12th overall pick in 1994 and lasted 15 years in the league and played in three Pro Bowls as a Jet, where he was named to the club's all-time team. He's the most accomplished player of the bunch.
Quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell is the most well-known, a fifth-round pick who spent his first two years backing up Brett Favre in Green Bay before going on to play in three Pro Bowls with the Jaguars and win a Super Bowl as Drew Brees's backup in New Orleans.
Assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley spent 10 seasons with the Eagles and Steelers, thrice topping 1,000 yards and winning a Super Bowl with the Steelers.
Offensive line coach Hank Fraley spent 11 years in the NFL, an undrafted free agent who worked his way into being an everyday starter on Eagles teams that were the class of the NFC in the early 2000s.
Wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El, the newest addition to the staff, was a Big Ten MVP as an Indiana quarterback and molded himself into a wide receiver for the Steelers' Super Bowl XL winning team. He joins straight from the reigning Super Bowl champion Bucs.
Finally, defensive assistant Kelvin Sheppard is the youngest of the bunch. He was a third-round pick out of LSU in 2011 and played for the Lions as recently as 2018.
As you can see, the staff's experience spans the entire spectrum of how their own players will experience the league. From first-round picks and Pro Bowlers who had red carpet beneath their feet and the weight of the franchise upon their shoulders to undrafted brawlers who had to fight for every morsel they ate in the league, there's hardly anything a current or future Lions player can experience that a Lions coach hasn't already been through.
And when you consider the head coach, the assistant head coach, both coordinators and the QBs, RBs, WRs and O-line coaches were all prominent players, that experience will be foundational to everything the Lions do henceforth.
“I honestly didn’t come in this thing and like write down on a notepad, I’m going to hire nothing but ex-players. It really wasn’t on my mind,” Campbell told the the Detroit Free Press. “I honestly said, I need to find the best people that are the best coaches. Like, how do I find outstanding character, but yet they’re outstanding coaches? And these are the names that I started to come up with.”
Dan Campbell – Head Coach
Duce Staley – Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs
Anthony Lynn – Offensive Coordinator
Aaron Glenn – Defensive Coordinator
Dave Fipp – Special Teams Coordinator
Mark Brunell – Quarterbacks
Dom Capers – Senior Defensive Assistant
Mark DeLeone – Inside Linebackers
Brian Duker – Defensive Assistant
Tanner Engstrand – Offensive Quality Control
Hank Fraley – Offensive Line
Ben Johnson – Tight Ends
Jett Modkins – Assistant Special Teams
DeOn'tae Pannell – WCF Minority Coaching Assistantship
Aubrey Pleasant – Defensive Backs/Pass Game Coordinator
Antwaan Randle El – Wide Receivers
Seth Ryan – Assistant Wide Receivers
Kelvin Sheppard – Defensive Assistant
Stephen Thomas – Defensive Quality Control
Todd Wash – Defensive Line
Kevin Anderson – Chief of Staff/Head Coach Administration
David Corrao – Director of Football Research
Mike Clark – Director of Sports Performance
Josh Schuler – Head Strength & Conditioning
Morris Henry – Assistant Strength & Conditioning