What Detroit Lions are getting in new tight ends coach Steve Heiden

Donnie Druin of All Cardinals answers five questions about new Detroit Lions tight ends coach Steve Heiden.

1.) What are Lions getting in Steve Heiden?

Donnie Druin: I think being versatile probably fits his resume best. He has experience coaching special teams, the offensive line and tight ends during his time in the NFL. He was hand-picked by Kliff Kingsbury to help take over the duties of former run game coordinator Sean Kugler after his dismissal, so that certainly bodes well for his confidence in taking on a larger role within the offense someday. He’s also held his job through three different coaching staffs (Bruce Arians-Steve Wilks-Kingsbury), which speaks to the kind of coach he is and the level of job security he had in Arizona.

2.) How did the tight ends perform for the Cardinals in 2022?

Druin: Zach Ertz was doing fairly well until he scored his ACL vs the Los Angeles Rams. Rookie tight end Trey McBride failed to really replace his production, but that’s the reality of a first-year project being thrust into that role, especially taking over for a player the caliber of Ertz. Tight ends in Kingsbury’s offense didn’t garner much attention, with guys such as DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore and James Conner getting most of the touches. Yet, Ertz was a superb security blanket at worst for whoever was throwing the ball. Third-string tight end Stephen Anderson didn’t do much with the action he saw, but that speaks more so toward his talent as opposed to Heiden’s ability to develop.

3.) How did the tight ends develop under Heiden’s watch?

Druin: Prior to Zach Ertz’s arrival, Maxx Williams was on track to become a fairly strong presence at tight end, before his gruesome injury triggered GM Steve Keim to make the move for Ertz. Arizona’s lack of true utilization of the position makes it a tough job to assess, in terms of Heiden’s ability to develop. But, it did seem like Heiden was making three-star meals with little ingredients available in the pantry. Ricky Seals-Jones was an undrafted player who saw some success under Heiden’s watch, too.

4.) The Lions seem to have a coaching staff full of ex-players. Do you think Heiden will fit in immediately?

Druin: The players really took to him, especially after Kugler’s departure. He’s still relatively young, and played over 10 years in the league for multiple teams, so he’s able to identify with nearly anybody in the locker room for one reason or another. Going from Kingsbury to Campbell is going to be quite the switch in terms of personality, but Heiden seems as if he’s got what it takes to thrive in a new environment.

5.) What is one thing fans of the Lions may not know about their new tight ends coach?

Druin: Heiden is from Rushford, Minn., which features a population of just around 2,000 people. Chase your dreams, kids!

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