ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Jeff Davidson used to protect John Elway's blind side and pave the way for Broncos running backs. Nearly a quarter-century later, he will return to share what he's learned with a new generation of linemen.
Davidson joined the Broncos on Saturday as their offensive line coach, returning to the team that drafted him in the fifth round of the 1990 NFL Draft out of Ohio State.
It's not only a reunion for Davidson with his original NFL team, but with Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy, for whom he worked as the Chargers' offensive line coach last year. They also worked together for the 2007 and 2008 seasons with the Panthers.
In Carolina, the duo succeeded, with Davidson serving as offensive coordinator and McCoy as passing-game coordinator/quarterbacks coach. After a difficult 2007 season in which the Panthers started four different quarterbacks, the offense broke out in 2008, led by a line that permitted one sack every 21.7 pass plays -- the eighth-best sack rate in the league -- and helped Carolina finish second in yardage per carry en route to a 12-4 finish and an NFC South title.
Davidson remained with the Panthers for two more seasons after McCoy departed for Denver in 2009, then joined the Minnesota Vikings for a five-season stint as their offensive line coach. With Adrian Peterson running through the holes created by Davidson's line, the Vikings led the league in average per carry during Davidson's tenure, averaging 4.92 yards per rush during those five seasons.
Six of the last nine offenses of which Davidson has been a part have been in the league's top four in average per carry. One of the exceptions was last year's Chargers team, but they still improved from 32nd to 26th in average per carry and 24th to 17th in move-the-chains rate on the ground in Davidson's one season on the job.
Davidson's NFL journey took flight over a quarter-century ago, when he broke into Denver's starting lineup in his second season, starting 14 regular-season games and two playoff games in 1991 at left tackle. He moved to left guard in 1992, when he started all 16 games. but had a knee problem and underwent surgery, leading to the end of his Broncos tenure.
Davidson latched on with the Saints in 1994 and did not play in any games, but did launch his coaching career with them under then-coach Jim Mora as a volunteer assistant in 1995 and an offensive assistant in 1996.
An eight-season stint in New England followed, which included time coaching both the tight ends and the offensive line under Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick.
Davidson moved on to Cleveland under then-coach Romeo Crennel as an offensive line coach in 2005 before becoming their offensive coordinator in 2006.