Lions Add Former Jaguars Coordinator & Son of Ex-NFL Coach to Staff

Rex Ryan

Getty Rex Ryan speaks at an event.

After signing new head coach Dan Campbell to a six-year deal last month, the Detroit Lions are continuing to build out their 2021 coaching staff. On Wednesday, the club revealed a few more notable hires alongside Campbell.

According to the team, Detroit has added former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash as its defensive line coach. Additionally, the Lions brought on an assistant wide receivers coach in Seth Ryan — son of former New York Jets frontman Rex Ryan.

First-year coach Kelvin Sheppard and Brian Duker, who spent the last three seasons as a coaching analyst with the Baltimore Ravens, were also added as defensive assistants.

Wash brings major NFL experience into the fold, and while the other hires are young, they are also quite compelling. Sheppard, 33, continues the trend of former players coming on staff given his experience as a linebacker in the league from 2011-2018, with his final season coming with the Lions. In eight seasons, he piled up 429 combined tackles and should be a good asset for Detroit’s younger defenders.

Duker first broke into the NFL working for the Cleveland Browns in 2015-2016 before heading west to spend the 2016-2017 campaign with the San Francisco 49ers under head coach Chip Kelly. In terms of name recognition, however, Wash and Ryan are the most noteworthy assistants in the group.

Wash Has Experience Developing Elite Defensive Talent

Many might not know Wash’s name right off the bat, but in coaching circles, it’s a strong one. He most recently oversaw the Jaguars defense from 2016-2020, helping to develop and set up several elite names for success, including Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and Telvin Smith.

Wash’s 2017 defense allowed an impressive 286.1 yards per game while piling up 55.0 sacks, both good for second-best in the league. Prior to that, Wash worked in Seattle from 2011-12, coaching a defensive line featuring the likes of Bruce Irvin, Brandon Mebane and Alan Branch.

It’s clear the veteran coordinator has plenty of experience not only calling plays but coaching up high-level talent. That skill set is something that should serve him well in Detroit as the Lions look to remake their defensive front into one of the most feared spots on the team.

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Ryan Comes From a Family of Football Royalty

If Ryan’s last name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the latest in line of football family royalty. His grandfather Buddy Ryan was a 16-year NFL coach and is widely considered one of the best defensive minds in league history, while father, Rex, was an accomplished NFL head coach formally of the New York Jets (2009-14) and Buffalo Bills (2015-16). Ryan’s uncle, Rob, brings 20 years of league experience as well, recently signing on to coach linebackers in Baltimore.

The Lions’ Ryan will be on the offensive side of the ball as an assistant wideout coach and has plenty of expertise to lend despite being just 26 years old. The youngster previously played wideout for Clemson, and while he did not play in the NFL, he has worked as an assistant for the last few seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers under new Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.

A bigger-name hire could be coming soon for Detroit’s head wideout coaching vacancy, so this could be the perfect situation for Ryan to learn and grow his own star in the industry.

Campbell Building a Strong Support Staff

Aside from Wednesday’s new hires, the new Detroit staff is already filled with highly respected and recognizable names. With Lynn now set to head-up the offense and the Lions officially revealing they have hired Aaron Glenn as the team’s next defensive coordinator, Campbell’s top assistants are now firmly in the mix.

From here on out, Campbell will continue to go about filling out the remainder of his positional coaches. The club has added a few big-time names in Duce Staley, Aubrey Pleasant and Mark Brunell in recent weeks, while Super Bowl winner Dave Fipp also joined to coach special teams. Former Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator and fellow Super Bowl champion Dom Capers also signed on as a senior defensive assistant last week.

Clearly, Campbell is on a roll in terms of attracting big-name talent to Detroit, providing his players with teachers who have “been there and done that” to guide them in 2021 and beyond.

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