Lions losing assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley to Panthers

Credit: Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Lions have a notable void on their coaching staff now, with assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley leaving for the Carolina Panthers.

First it was offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who decided to stay. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has gotten a couple head coaching interviews, and those jobs are still open, but there’s a solid chance he stays too.

But the Detroit Lions are losing a key member of their coaching staff. According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, assistant head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley is leaving to join the new coaching staff of the Carolina Panthers.

Staley came to Detroit on Dan Campbell’s staff in 2021. Prior to that he was on the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff from 2011-2020, adding associate head coach to his running backs coach title in 2018.

Past coaching ties and family concerns have Duce Staley leaving the Lions

Staley is a South Carolina native, so the move to the Panthers will bring him closer to home. According to Justin Rogers of The Detroit News, Staley’s mother is dealing with some health issues, so the move puts him closer to her.

What role Staley will have in Carolina is not known yet, but the offensive coordinator post is open as new head coach Frank Reich fills out his coaching staff.

Staley was on the Eagles’ coaching staff with Reich in 2016 and 2017, when Reich was Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator. So when the opportunity for a potential job promotion was there with the Panthers, and with his mom ailing, the Lions read the situation broadly and reluctantly let Staley leave for Carolina.

In other Lions coaching news, after Steve Heiden was hired to be the new tight ends coach, Tanner Engstrand is staying on as passing game coordinator. It seems possible now that he’ll take the assistant head coach piece of Staley’s old title.

Staley is a potential future head coach, and he will not be easily replaced in Detroit as someone the players loved and a soundbite when he had opportunities. A potential internal candidate to replace him as running backs coach is special teams assistant Jett Modkins.

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