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Jeff Davidson
Offensive Line

BIOGRAPHY

Jeff Davidson’s reputation for technical expertise and fitting schemes to personnel has proved effective as he has guided offensive lines that have paved the way for an NFL top-8 rushing attack in 6 of the past 7 seasons. In the past 3 seasons (2012-14), Davidson’s linemen have paved the way for an NFL-best 4.9 yards per carry rushing average, ranks tied for 2nd in the NFL with 51 rushing TDs and ranks 4th in the NFL with 135.8 rushing yards per game.

In 2014, the Vikings line had to adjust to constantly changing personnel as injuries decimated the unit and had 3 backups starting late in the season. The team started 5 different offensive line combinations during the season and only started the original starting 5 for the opening 3 games of the season. The line protected rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater as he started 12 games and set virtually every franchise record for a rookie QB and earned All-Rookie honors. Without RB Adrian Peterson the offense turned to veteran RB Matt Asiata and rookie RB Jerick McKinnon to carry the load and the duo combined for 1,108 yards. McKinnon ranked among the NFL’s leading rookie rushers before being placed on injured reserve with a back injury. Asiata scored 9 rushing TDs and a pair of 2-point conversions, tieing for 3rd in the NFL for rushing TDs on the season.

Jeff Davidson’s reputation for technical expertise and fitting schemes to personnel has proved effective as he has guided offensive lines that have paved the way for an NFL top-8 rushing attack in 6 of the past 7 seasons. In the past 3 seasons (2012-14), Davidson’s linemen have paved the way for an NFL-best 4.9 yards per carry rushing average, ranks tied for 2nd in the NFL with 51 rushing TDs and ranks 4th in the NFL with 135.8 rushing yards per game.

In 2014, the Vikings line had to adjust to constantly changing personnel as injuries decimated the unit and had 3 backups starting late in the season. The team started 5 different offensive line combinations during the season and only started the original starting 5 for the opening 3 games of the season. The line protected rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater as he started 12 games and set virtually every franchise record for a rookie QB and earned All-Rookie honors. Without RB Adrian Peterson the offense turned to veteran RB Matt Asiata and rookie RB Jerick McKinnon to carry the load and the duo combined for 1,108 yards. McKinnon ranked among the NFL’s leading rookie rushers before being placed on injured reserve with a back injury. Asiata scored 9 rushing TDs and a pair of 2-point conversions, tieing for 3rd in the NFL for rushing TDs on the season.

The 2013 Vikings saw Peterson earn his 6th Pro Bowl berth in his 7 NFL seasons, break the 1,000-yard mark for the 6th time and score 10+ rushing TDs for the 7th time despite missing 2 of the final 3 games of the season. In Peterson’s absence, the club turned to former 3rd-stringer Asiata to make his 1st career start in win over playoff-bound Philadelphia and started again against Detroit. Asiata tied a team record with 3 rushing TDs, his 1st career scores, against Philadelphia and notch his 1st career 100-yard day with a 115-yard effort against Detroit’s #6-ranked rushing defense. The Vikings offense hit its stride against Philadelphia with a 48-point offensive output, the most offensive points by the Vikings since 1969. The line stayed largely intact from the record-setting group from 2012 and only 3 games were missed by starters due to injury in 2013. The unit paved the way for the Vikings to lead the NFL in 2013 with 23 rushing TDs. 

The Vikings offensive line became a model of consistency and production in 2012, the 2nd season under the tutelage of Davidson. The unit started all 5 players as a group for all 16 regular season games and the Wild Card playoff contest, setting team and NFL records along the way with the 2nd-ranked rushing unit in the NFL. The Vikings ground game ranked #2 in the NFL and tied the Vikings record with 2,634 yards (164.6 per game).

The line paved the way for a remarkable season by RB Adrian Peterson, who earned the 2012 NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors. Peterson posted the 2nd-highest single-season rushing total in NFL history with 2,097 yards and broke the 100-yard mark 10 times. Making the productivity more amazing was the fact that only Sullivan and Loadholt returned to the positions they manned the season before. Rookie Kalil and 2nd-year player Fusco were making their debuts as starters and Johnson had been reassigned after starting at LT in 2011.

The unit didn’t skip a beat though, earning the Madden Most Valuable Protector’s award 3 times during the season, an award presented by the Hall of Fame coach to the top offensive line each week of the season. Sullivan earned All-Pro honors from Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers Association and Kalil was a late addition to the Pro Bowl and an All-Rookie honoree. Kalil joined Todd Steussie (1994) as the only rookie OTs to start every game during the 16-game era. The line protected 2nd-year QB Christian Ponder as he made strides forward in his 1st full season as the starter, improving his passer rating by 11 points (81.2) and his completion percentage by nearly 8 points (64.2) and threw only 12 INTs in 483 attempts, an INT percentage of 2.5, both ranking in the Vikings top 10 for a season in team history. 

Davidson’s 1st season with the Vikings in 2011 was a challenge when he dealt with a shuffled line due to injury throughout the season but still led the unit to block for the #4 rushing offense in the NFL, a 6-spot jump from the 2010 Vikings. In his first season on the Vikings staff, Davidson inherited an offensive line that had limited time to work together due to the unusual circumstances of the 2011 offseason lockout.

Only LT Charlie Johnson and RT Phil Loadholt opened all 16 games during the 2011 season up front for the Vikings and Johnson joined the club during training camp, stepping in as the starter. The interior of the line was hampered by injuries that saw 4 different starting combinations between the center and guards. Center John Sullivan enjoyed a career year under Davidson’s tutelage and was recognized with a vote in Associated Press All-Pro balloting. In 2011, Davidson’s linemen paved the way to tie a Vikings record with 3 players breaking the 100-yard rushing mark during the season- Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart and Joe Webb. RB Peterson was stopped just short of his 5th straight 1,000-yard season when sidelined by a season-ending injury. Peterson ended the season with 970 yards in his 12 games played and notched 12 rushing TDs. Gerhart made the most of his opportunities, rushing for 531 yards on the season and had a career-best 109 yards on the ground at Washington, including 105 in the 2nd half of the game.

Davidson has a background as a versatile lineman who was a full-time starter at LT and LG for Denver in 1991 and 1992 respectively, winning the AFC West title in 1991 and advancing to the AFC Championship game. Davidson’s been a part of winning programs throughout his career, claiming 5 Division titles as a coach with New England and Carolina, and helping New England take home the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX.

During his 4 seasons in Carolina the team claimed the 2008 NFC South title with a 12-4 mark and established the Panthers ground game as one of the NFL’s best. The Panthers were led on the ground by DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, who powered their way into the record books in 2009 by both breaking the 1,000-yard mark, Stewart going for 1,133 and Williams posting 1,117. In 2008, Williams ran for a franchise-record 1,515 yards and 18 rushing TDs. Stewart set a franchise record with 206 yards rushing against the NY Giants in 2009 and Williams posted 186 yards against Tampa Bay in 2008 for the 2nd-best mark in team history. The Panthers struggled for consistency at QB in 2009 and 2010, starting 4 different QBs over the 2-year span.

Davidson had a pair of offensive linemen earn Pro Bowl honors- Ryan Kalil at C in 2009 and Jordan Gross at T in 2008. Williams earned Pro Bowl trips in 2008 and 2009 and was joined by WR Steve Smith in 2008.

Prior to taking on the role of offensive coordinator, Davidson honed his skills as a position coach with Cleveland and New England. He coached the Browns offensive line in 2005-06 and oversaw a unit that paved the way for Reuben Droughns to rush for 1,232 yards, breaking a 20-year streak without a Browns 1,000-yard rusher. The shuffled offensive line also protected rookie QB Charlie Frye as he took over under center for veteran Trent Dilfer. During the 2006 season, Davidson was named the Browns offensive coordinator early in the season and his game plans helped TE Kellen Winslow and WR Braylon Edwards reel in 89 and 61 receptions respectively.

Davidson gained the most experience of his coaching career during 8 seasons with New England from 1997-2004, working under head coach Pete Carroll for the opening 3 seasons before Bill Belichick took over the team in 2000. Tutoring the Patriots TEs in 1997 he saw Ben Coates lead the team with 66 catches and earn a Pro Bowl berth. In 2001, in Belichick’s 2nd year at the helm, the club won Super Bowl XXXVI over St. Louis, starting a remarkable streak of 3 Super Bowl wins in 4 seasons, claiming Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina after the 2003 season and Super Bowl XXXIX over Philadelphia after the 2004 campaign.

Following a 4-season NFL playing career that was cut short by injury, Davidson broke into coaching with New Orleans as a volunteer assistant and offensive assistant with the Saints in 1995-96. Davidson played his final NFL season for New Orleans in 1994 after beginning his career as a 5th-round draft pick by Denver in 1990. In 1991 and 1992 he was a 16-game starter for the Broncos at LT and LG respectively, helping the team advance to the AFC title game in 1991 while protecting Hall of Famer John Elway’s blind side.

Davidson was an All-Big Ten honoree as a senior at Ohio State when he served as a team captain. Davidson was a teammate with Chris Spielman, brother of Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman. A member of a strong football family, Davidson’s father was an All-American and team captain at OSU and his brother was a LB for the Buckeyes. Jeff and wife, Judi, have sons, Nick and A.J. Nick was a Minnesota All-State honoree as a senior in 2011 at Eden Prairie High School and is an offensive lineman at Stanford currently while A.J. is a senior at EPHS.

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