PSO: Dan Campbell Is A Blessing and a Curse

He is a far cry from the disastrous Matt Patricia and while he currently commands one of the best offenses in the NFL, he still has some major and concerning flaws.


There has rarely, if ever, been as much optimism about the Detroit Lions as there is right now.  National and local media alike have praised the Lions for both their culture change and what are considered two stellar draft classes by general manager Brad Holmes.  Even throughout the halls of East, Lions gear and the jerseys of rookie and former Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson are visible.  The Lions offense is third in the league in yards per game, behind only the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell is largely beloved by NFL fans for his pro wrestling-esque personality, his aggressive calls, and his passion on both the sideline and during press conferences.  He captured the attention of the sports media at his very first press conference with his famous knee caps speech.  Campbell deserves a lot of credit for what he has brought to the team thus far.  Although last year’s record didn’t reflect it, Campbell was able to get one of the NFL’s worst rosters to play hard and remain competitive almost every game they were in.  He is a far cry from the disastrous Matt Patricia and while he currently commands one of the best offenses in the NFL, he still has some major and concerning flaws.

Few things are more synonymous with Campbell than his knee caps speech, his overuse of the word “man”, and his questionable late game decisions.  While the first two don’t hurt your football team, the last one sure does.  The vast majority of Lions fans think this Detroit team should be 2-1, and rightfully so.  The Lions should have beaten Minnesota, a team they dominated for most of the game, and probably would have if it wasn’t for Campbell.  With a three point lead with little time left in the fourth quarter, Campbell opted to try a 54-yard field goal to try and stretch the lead to six (not even a full touchdown lead) instead of either going for it on fourth in an attempt to convert and run the clock out, or punting it and pinning it Minnesota inside their own ten, forcing them to drive the length of the field.

Not only would said decision prove to be questionable with a solid, reliable kicker, but it’s downright stupid without one.  Lions kicker Austin Seibert has been notoriously unreliable since joining the team and has been, at minimum, shaky from long range.  He already missed a game winner in Pittsburgh last year and botched an onside kick in week one this year.  Of course, Seibert missed another one here and Minnesota would drive down the field and emerge the winners.  If Campbell either goes for it or punts it, he puts his team in a far better position.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first boneheaded decision Campbell has made.  Week one against the Eagles he attempted an onside kick midway through the second half, which gave the best offense in the NFL a short field when they (Philadelphia) already had the lead.  Even in the losing effort to Minnesota he burned his last timeout after Minnesota converted a big play, a foolish error considering it looked like his offense was going to get the ball back with less than a minute left.  In the past he ran a dive play on fourth and long and went for it on fourth in unnecessary situations, but then punted the ball in times he should probably go for it.  His clock management has been questionable since he assumed the top job.

While his giant shoulders bear much of the blame, there are other Lions who deserve some finger pointing.  While he has played well this year, quarterback Jared Goff admitted on 97.1 The Ticket that he did little to influence Campbell’s decision to kick the field goal instead of going for it.  If Goff is the future of this team, which is a question we don’t currently have an answer to, he needs to show more leadership than that.  One of the big problems with Stafford was that he was far too passive.  The Lions cannot lock themselves into another quarterback who is either too afraid or doesn’t care enough about his team to throw his weight around.

The Lions owe a lot to Campbell.  He is winning over players, executives, and fans alike with his attitude and style and could actually attract free agents to Detroit down the line.  The play calling has also largely improved since he handed over the offensive reigns to offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.  But your head coach cannot be a liability.  Good organizations win and lose games on the field, not on the sideline.  If Campbell’s in-game decisions don’t improve, and soon, general manager Brad Holmes and the Fords need to consider a change in the coaching department, possibly by the end of the year.