Dan Campbell is the toast of Detroit after coaching the Lions into the divisional round of the playoffs, but he remembers when his ugly start had some people doubting him. And that gives him renewed appreciation for the people who bought into what he was doing.
Campbell said on Friday that in 2021, when he was a first-year coach, Jared Goff was in his first year of replacing Matthew Stafford as the Lions' starting quarterback and Brad Holmes was a first-year general manager, plenty of people were saying, "I"m not a very good coach and he's not a very good quarterback and Brad's not a very good evaluator of talent."
Although it took the Lions until Campbell's 12th game as head coach to win their first game, he said he learned a lot about Goff and some of the other core players because they never stopped believing in what he was trying to build.
"You can't listen to all that, but I just know that when all that stuff was surfacing, that's about as bad as it gets, and he never got frazzled by it," Campbell said of Goff. "That's impressive. It's easy when everything's going right, you're winning games, guys love you, want to be a part of it. When you're 0-10-1 you find out about people, you find out about players and coaches, people in the organization. That's why you have the best perception of what those people are and how they're made and what drives them and what they're willing to do for those around them. That's a much better viewpoint than when everything's going great and you've got 12 wins. I know exactly what [Goff] is, when it's at its worst, and I'll take that guy any day."
Campbell was 4-19-1 in his first 24 games as the Lions' head coach, and he's 21-7 since then. It's been a remarkable turnaround, and he appreciates the people in the building who believed.