Jarrad Davis returns to Detroit with heart and perspective: “When are you going to decide internally, is enough?”

ALLEN PARK — Jarrad Davis has a million reasons he never wants to set foot in Detroit again. This is where his dreams turned into a nightmare. The place where he became a bust in the first round. The place where he anchored one of the most dysfunctional defenses in the history of this game. The place where things got so bad he once considered walking away from the game altogether.

Yet when presented with the opportunity to come back, to walk those halls again, to stand behind that microphone, to answer the tough questions from the people who watched him fail, Davis jumped at the chance, signing a free agent contract with the Lions on Friday. afternoon.

First question: Why?

“Every time wasn’t always a good time (when I was here), but I’m telling you, the ball here is fun,” Davis said. “I love playing in this stadium, I love being in this city, I love seeing Michigan summers. Winters, I’m still learning, I’m still trying to grow on myself. But I love this place, really.i really do. And it feels good. Just thinking about being here again, like, it’s just more than anything.

It’s zonte. It’s also exactly what you’d expect a guy to say when signing anywhere.

But Davis wasn’t there to deliver the coachspeak, instead spending the better part of 13 minutes speaking from the heart about why it didn’t work out for him in Detroit, something he learned during his sabbatical. in New York last season and why he came back despite all the demons that might lurk in those hallways.

“The biggest thing I know is going to change is just who I am and how I approach things on a day-to-day basis,” Davis said. “I don’t want to say I was bad before, but I think I can be more efficient, I can be better, and just be a better teammate, be a better football player, be a better leader, be a better friend, you know? Just overall growth. There’s a lot I’ve been through while I’ve been away, and I’ve just had a truly eye-opening experience in life in general. I’m excited to be back and to have again the opportunity to play and have fun doing what I love.

“Over time in your life, like, you grow. We are all human beings, and we have to understand – we have to have a real understanding – how to look within. We can always look outside and point and say, ‘It could have been this, it could have been that.’ But it’s like, when are you gonna wonder what you could have been? You know? And when are you going to decide internally that enough is enough? When are you going to decide to be a better person every day? So that’s my ultimate goal, to come back to Detroit.

It’s hard not to hear all of this and think of Quinntricia, the regime that took an organization on the periphery of the playoff pursuit and drove it 6 feet under the turf at Ford Field. That was especially true for the defense, which took a big step back from installing Matt Patricia’s system in 2018, before nearly setting the franchise record for most points and yards allowed in 2019 — then d set both futility records in 2020.

The only team in NFL history to allow more runs than this defense was the 1980 Baltimore Colts. That’s it. This is the list. And Jarrad Davis, former first-round pick, was right in the middle.

He’s never been great and often bad in his four seasons here. His best season came in 2018, when he moved into a more rushing role and racked up six sacks, although injuries hampered his momentum for the next two seasons. Just like playing out of position. He’s always been at his best when he’s on offense, but Patricia asked him to sit down and read and diagnose and think and ruminate and and and…

…and it’s no surprise that the defense was so bad, as players were asked to think rather than play. Many players have talked about it, especially Tracy Walker and Jeff Okudah, and few have suffered more from this read-and-react approach than the hard-hitting Davis.

To that end, Davis is relishing the opportunity to return to Detroit and play in a defense that just wants to get rid of guys.

“A lot of it comes down to having a simplicity in that scheme where guys can get out there and play fast,” Davis said. “We understand exactly what we need to do every play, every try, so we can just go out there and perform. While I was gone, I just learned that a lot of things like the connections that we’ve talked about before, really cultivating those bonds within the team, that’s something that we kind of missed while I was here. You just have to really bring these things home to really build them. To make sure everyone is a unit there. It’s going to be really exciting working here this offseason, just reaching out to the guys, taking the time to do the little things. It’s all in the details. So I decided to actually build this.

Although Davis was aware of what was wrong with Detroit, he was careful not to dump his old coaches either, always looking inside at what he did, what he could have done. , which he would have done if given another chance.

Now he has that shot.

“It’s amazing how life works,” Davis said. “You’re walking away from something, or you’re walking away from something and you feel like you don’t know what’s going to happen after you turn your back and walk through the door. You don’t know if that door is going one day to reopen. You don’t know what’s going to be in it. You don’t know what the reunion is like. You don’t know anything – if there will even be a reunion. But it’s just amazing to be able to have the “opportunity to come back to this building and be able to go to work. I love it. This place is so familiar. I know that. There are people I know in the city who can help me become a better person, a better player. There are so many things that keep me coming back to Detroit.

Of course, Davis is also in a very different place when he returns to Detroit. He’s no longer the shiny new toy, a first-round pick who just got a starting job on Day 1. He wasn’t good with the Lions before, then was worse with the Jets, setting new lows in career for tackles (25), tackles for loss (0), quarterback hits (0) and forced turnovers (0) in a season.

This guy isn’t guaranteed a roster spot, let alone a starting spot, in a linebacking rotation that has added guys like Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Chris Board and Josh Woods since he left. a year ago – plus everything that happens next month in the draft, and there are plenty of people expecting Detroit to address the position in a meaningful way in the draft.

But Jarrad Davis, as lucid as he ever was at this microphone, takes on the new challenges of an old town.

“No matter who sees me, no matter what they think of me, no matter what they say, my job is to go out and do my best and keep taking everything and every step I can to go. better,” Davis said. “Any baby step I’ll do. I like those. That’s how I got there. Go back and look at my story. I wasn’t a rookie in four years in high school, I wasn’t a rookie in four years in college. In my freshman year, before I had a chance to really play and show what I was capable of in Florida, I was on the bench. There are so many things that I had to overcome, and it’s just one more thing in my life, and that excites me.

“It’s not always easy to be at the top of the mountain. Its not always easy. For me, all my life, I loved hunting, I loved climbing. I appreciate that. I appreciate how much it brings out the best in me. I appreciate how much it pushes me to really grow and develop. So I’m excited for any opportunity and shot I can get.

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