Detroit Lions head coach Pat Shurmur is stepping down and joining the Philadelphia Eagles as offensive coordinator. Meanwhile, first-time NFL head coach Dan Campbell has already had a rough go of it with his rookie season in Detroit. Though he lacks experience on offense, Campbell could take one big step towards becoming an effective play caller by hiring someone more experienced to help him through this tough transition.
Dan Campbell is the head coach of the Detroit Lions. He has a lack of experience in play-calling, but he seems to be doing well so far. Read more in detail here: detroit lions head coach.
Come on, let’s have some fun. The Detroit Lions and Dan Campbell have won their first game of the 2021 season.
The Lions are now 1-10-1 after a walk-off victory against the Minnesota Vikings, and they are clearly relieved to have the word “winless” removed from their lexicon.
While things are looking up in Detroit right now, Campbell and the Lions still have five games left to play and a whole franchise to rebuild.
Even after the victory, his most recent admission should make supporters nervous.
The Detroit Lions were on the verge of losing the game due to two poor Dan Campbell play calls.
During a stoppage during the first half against the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell chats with Jared Goff #16 | Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
With 5:32 remaining in the game and a 23-21 advantage, the Lions fielded a punt at their own 19-yard line, probably wanting to put the game away.
Campbell ordered a run up the middle to Jamaal Williams two plays later on a 3rd-and-1 with 4:49 left. The Lions were stuffed, which would ordinarily be a good idea given Williams’ reputation as a hard-nosed runner between the tackles.
Faced with a 4th-and-1 situation on their own 28 yard line, Campell chose to call an ill-fated play-action throw rather than rely on a solid offensive line to gain one yard. Minnesota linebacker Blake Lynch robbed Jared Goff of the football as he rolled out to his right. The Vikings took over on the Lions’ 19-yard line and went up 27-23 after scoring a touchdown six plays later.
Campbell, astonishingly, confesses to calling a bad play.
In the third quarter against the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell goes over his play sheet | Mike Mulholland/Getty Images
For Detroit, everything works out in the end. Following the Vikings’ touchdown, the Lions drove down the field and scored a game-winning touchdown of their own. Never mind the fact that the Vikings’ prevent defense was atrocious on that drive. Never mind that Minnesota’s head coach, Mike Zimmer, should be fired at the end of the season, and this game will play a big role in that.
A victory is a win, and the Lions put out a valiant effort to earn their first. Where credit is due, credit is due.
But there’s a surprise and, to be honest, unsettling twist in store for Lions supporters expecting Campbell would be the man to lift them out of the NFL’s cellar. The reality that Campbell was terrible as a play-caller at one of the most important positions in the game was lost in the ecstasy of the victory.
The head coach previously told Detroit’s 97.1 The Ticket that he understood he had to be proactive to counter Minnesota’s normally explosive attack. That explains his late-game choice to go for it on fourth down deep in his own zone. But it wasn’t the fact that he missed the fourth down that bothered him. He feels remorseful because of a choice he made immediately before the game.
“If I could go back in time, it would have been the third-down call before the fourth-down call,” he added. “I despised the play I called for our offense and Jamaal [Williams].” That didn’t sit well with me. In my perspective, we should not have been in that 4th-and-1 situation if I had called a better play.”
As a play-caller, Campbell is in over his head.
Campbell, a first-year head coach, has never called a play in his coaching career. From 2016 through 2020, he was the New Orleans Saints’ assistant head coach/tight ends coach, although he never had the job of assessing the situation on the field, looking down at a play sheet, and calling a play.
When he was hired by ESPN, this is how they portrayed him:
Campbell, who has never worked as a coordinator in the NFL, is seen as a motivator and someone who can bring a club together rather than an Xs-and-Os expert.
This season, the Lions signed experienced coach Anthony Lynn to be Campbell’s offensive coordinator, but after an 0-8 start, Campbell stripped Lynn of play-calling responsibilities in a desperate bid to change things up. While a play-calling switch-up is recommended for coaches trying to breathe new life into their squad, Campell picked a coach with no play-calling expertise over one who had just been a head coach for four seasons and an offensive coordinator for one season.
He picked a coach with no prior experience? It was him who did it.
Would you want your doctor to have no experience before operating on you, according to the Mike Valenti Show With Rico on 97.1 in Detroit? What about the individual who prepares your taxes? Do you want them to be trying to figure out the tax law as they go? As Valenti described it, Campbell is essentially an NFL head coaching intern learning as he goes.
Would you rather have a play-caller who “is considered as a motivator and someone who can bring a team together, rather than an X’s-and-master” O’s call the plays? The Lions seem to be OK with it.
Campbell is in the process of learning how to call plays in the NFL on the fly.
It would be one thing if he was suddenly becoming the next Kyle Shanahan or Matt LaFleur, but he’s made a slew of questionable mistakes since taking over the playbook, and he’s now publicly acknowledged to blowing a 3rd-and-1 call. It wasn’t just that particular game. On fourth down, he made a horrendous play-action call, which he conceded was a stupid mistake. That was picked up by the Vikings in a flash. It didn’t stand a chance in hell of succeeding.
Campbell has cover thanks to the victory and the positive sentiments surrounding it, but the Vikings gave him that excuse. The truth is that he’s essentially doing a paid internship for millions of dollars, and he’s still trying to figure it out.
One victory, as thrilling as it was for Detroit, isn’t going to alter anything.
ESPN and Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
RELATED: The Lions Are the NFL’s Worst Team, But Dan Campbell Isn’t Worried About the Draft: ‘We’re attempting to sabotage people’s days.’
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