Wed, 03 Mar 2021

Tim Twentyman

It didn't take long to feel the passion Dan Campbell will bring to the job as the new Detroit Lions head coach. A former player in Detroit, Campbell said he really wanted the job, and desperately wants to build a consistent winner here that aligns with the spirit and resiliency of the City of Detroit. He knows what he wants it to look like, and has a plan to get there.

Here are all the key questions from his introductory press conference:

What can we expect from Dan Campbell's Lions team?

"This community is strong," Campbell said. "This place has been kicked, it's been battered, bruised and I can sit up here and give you coach speak all day long. I can give you, 'Hey, we're going to win this many games.' None of that matters, and you guys don't want to hear it anyway. You've had enough of that ...

"Here's what I do know. This team is going to take on the identity of this city. This city's been down and it found a way to get up. It found a way to overcome adversity. We're going to kick you in the teeth, and when you punch us back, we're going to smile at you. When you knock us down, we're going to get up, and on the way up we're going to bite a kneecap off.

"We're going to stand up and it's going to take two more shots to knock us down, and on the way up we're going to take your other kneecap and we're going to get up. And then it's going to take three shots to get us down, and when we get up we're going to take another hunk out of you. Before long, we're going to be the last one standing."

Campbell wants a resilient and tough football team where everyone is pushing for the exact same goal, and there are no egos that get in the way.

How quickly will Campbell have coordinators and assistant coaches in place?

He's working pretty quickly on that front. He said he's interviewed a number of candidates on both sides of the ball already, and planned to hit the phones after Thursday's press conference to continue that work.

Campbell did have some interesting thoughts on the type of coordinators he's looking to hire. He doesn't want system guys. He wants play callers who can adapt and put players in a situation where they can attack an opponent's weakness.

"At some point we're gonna find a way to get our best players on your worst players," he said. "How do we find those matchups? Let's use your concepts, but now, for example, let's put (D'Andre) Swift in the slot. Let's take him out the backfield and work him 1-on-1 with a WILL linebacker. Those are the things I'm looking for."

How does the coordinator feel about using pace? What about empty sets? How much freedom does the quarterback have? Those are all things beyond the X's and O's Campbell wants to know and fell good about with his coaches.

Lions agree to terms with Dan Campbell to become team's new head coach Holmes' use of analytics really stood out to Lions KEY QUESTIONS: What is Holmes' approach to roster building?

How does being a former player shape his coaching philosophies?

Campbell spent 11 seasons as an NFL tight end, three of those years in Detroit, and said it does offer him a unique perspective on the job. He said he'll never ask a coach or a player to do anything he wouldn't be willing to do at a drop of a hat.

"One of the first things I told the guys in Miami when I took over (as interim head coach in 2015) is, hey, here's the good news, the good news is I'm an ex-player. Here's the bad news, the bad news is I'm an ex-player. I've been through it. I know what you can do and you can do a lot more than you think you can do."

Campbell said he's not afraid to tell a player where he stands. That should garner some respect in the locker room.

What does Campbell think of the roster he's inherited?

Campbell didn't get into a lot of details. He hasn't been on the job long enough, and wants to go through the tape and the evaluation process with new GM Brad Holmes first, but he did say there are pieces he likes.

"There's some pieces on that offensive line that look pretty good and really entice me, that make me feel pretty good," he said. "The quarterback (Matthew Stafford) is obviously phenomenal. He's been for a long time. He's tough."

He mentioned cornerback Jeff Okudah, linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. and defensive end Romeo Okwara on defense.

Campbell was honest, however, in saying the roster has more pieces that fire him up at first glance on offense than on defense.

"There's always the ability to hit on a good draft and sign a few free agents that you feel like believe the same way you do as a program and come to winning programs and fit a role, they fit a piece, and some things can happen," he said. "You can kind of make things a little more positive than maybe the perception is in the spring."

There is going to be some re-tooling that is needed, but Campbell said there's some pieces he likes and can work with, and if Detroit can find a way to complement those pieces through the draft and free agency, he can see the roster being pretty positive moving forward.

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