What Does Dan Campbell Bring to Detroit?

By: Noey Melendez

Following another lackluster season (5-11) for the Detroit Lions and their fans, the organization is already looking to make some changes and bring some new faces in this offseason. One, in particular, is a man who was part of a dreadful 0-16 season with the team back in 2008. Dan Campbell.

The current assistant head coach and tight ends coach for the title contender New Orleans Saints. A third-round pick as a player in 1999, followed a respectable 11-year career primarily as a veteran with experience to four different NFL teams and capped that career off by being a part of the 2009 Saints Super Bowl team.

Campbell was hired a year later as a coaching intern by the Miami Dolphins, moved to the tight ends coach then eventually took over as the head coach in 2015 when the team parted ways with Joe Philbin. Campbell led the Dolphins to a 5-7 record.

 The year after, New Orleans and Sean Payton brought him in for their tight ends coach. 

Nothing official has been set in stone, just a scoop from Jay Glazer reporting that the Detroit Lions will go forward in their pursuit for Dan Campbell as the next head coach for the team. Of course, when he becomes available as his team is still competing for a title. What exactly does this mean for a franchise that has been in a rut for the past decade?

The team made the playoffs three times between 2010 and 2020, all wild card weekend losses. The Lions have plenty of talent so what exactly has been the primary issue? Ultimately discipline and development of their lead players. Campbell has enough experience to bring these qualities out of every player on that team. Well respected by his peers and co-workers, well-spoken, and being part of a winning culture in New Orleans are his x-factor qualities. Oh….and sideline intensity. He can bring that too. 

In June 2020, Campbell spoke on a podcast, reported by Pride of Detroit, and made the following statement on coaching 

“You have to be willing to listen to these (guys), and I feel like there needs to be more of a working relationship with your athletes, certainly at the NFL level. These are grown men that we’re dealing with. Like I always approach it as we are working together. Now, rookies are a little different, but once you’ve been trained a little bit, we’re working together.

“‘Now how do I make your job easier? That’s my job. How do I pull the most out of you? That’s my job as a coach. And your job is to use me as a resource. So what do you need from me? How can I help you? Let me ask you this: What makes your job easier, player X? Would you rather do it this way?’

“You have to have some flexibility in the way that you coach and deal with players… You have to be willing to open yourself up to players. You have to be willing to put yourself out there.”

Now while this is just a simple take from the man himself, of course it is going to be action over words. 

Campbell will have plenty of talent under his wing in the likes of TJ Hockenson, D’andre Swift, and Kenny Golladay leading the offensive, as well Jamie Collins and Romeo Okwara leading the defense. The reality of Winning football is that it can never run solely on talent, it’s a game of inches.

Plenty of questions come this offseason for the team as well, most likely losing veteran edge Everson Griffin, a young corner that needs much development and helps himself in Jeff Okudah, and the biggest and most important need.

A quarterback, not much is known currently about longtime franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford’s future. Only five 2021 draft picks are guaranteed for them and the free-agent field of quarterbacks does not look very fulfilling either.

Finding this piece of the team is going to define the Lions success for 2021 and how Campbell can impress in that first year.  It will be interesting to see how Campbell can bring his winning experience as a player and coach and implement it into a full season of gameplay with such talent at his disposal.

Nothing will come easy, it never does in the game of football. But if the Lions need someone to bring intensity, experience, football IQ, and motivation to the team….out of options available. Campbell is the man. 

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