Detroit Lions' Dan Campbell 'not ready to commit' to giving up play-calling in 2022

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Calling offensive plays has grown on Dan Campbell to the point the Detroit Lions coach might do it again in 2022.

Campbell, who assumed play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn at midseason, said Wednesday he has not decided yet how he will handle offensive play-calling next season.

"I know that I’m getting a lot more comfortable and I feel like this is something that I do believe I can do and be good at," Campbell said. "But I’m not ready to commit to what I’m doing next year yet. I got to sit down and process this at the right time."

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell looks at plays during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Atlanta.
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell looks at plays during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Atlanta.

Campbell shuffled duties on his offensive staff at midseason with the Lions mired in an 0-8 start.

Lynn still coordinates the Lions' rushing attack, but tight ends coach Ben Johnson has taken over as a de facto pass game coordinator while Campbell has handled the green dot communication system — with play-calling input from Lynn — to the quarterback.

[ Lions can't overreact: Aidan Hutchinson still worth No. 1 pick after Georgia game ]

The changes have had a positive impact on the Lions, who are 2-5-1 since the bye week while mounting one of the NFL's best rushing attacks and showing more creativity in the pass game.

With Campbell as play-caller, the Lions are averaging 19.3 points per game compared to the 16.8 points they averaged the first eight weeks of the season.

Their yards per game have dropped slightly, from 321.1 to 313.9, but they've run the ball better — 130.3 ypg since the bye vs. 93.1 ypg with Lynn as play-caller — and hit fewer ruts as an offense.

Despite missing quarterback Jared Goff for three games and dealing with the loss of top playmakers T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift for multiple weeks, the Lions have topped 20 points three times since the bye. In the first half of the season, they went seven straight games without reaching 20 points.

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff leaves the playing field with head coach Dan Campbell after a roughing the passer call against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, at Ford Field in Detroit.
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff leaves the playing field with head coach Dan Campbell after a roughing the passer call against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, at Ford Field in Detroit.

While calling plays is not uncommon among NFL head coaches — one of Campbell's mentors, Sean Payton, calls plays for the New Orleans Saints, as do coaches for the top three teams in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams and Buccaneers — Campbell ascent in the role has come as a bit of a surprise.

A former NFL tight end, he had never called plays at any level before this season and was still getting used to his duties as a first-year head coach with a new team.

"It was a lot (at first)," Campbell said. "I felt like it took a couple weeks to be able to start breathing again. But yeah, look, there was a transitional period there. It took a minute to try to get it all in, cause unfortunately when you take that on — fortunately and unfortunately, but something’s going to suffer somewhere until you figure (it) out."

BIRKETT: Jared Goff 'hope to be out there' for season finale vs. Packers

MORE: Dan Campbell regrets running on third-and-32 vs. Chicago Bears

Lions receivers coach Antwaan Randle El said last week Campbell has appeared more comfortable calling plays in recent weeks, and has done a better job with his play-calling in general.

"If you look at from when he started till now, that would be the biggest thing," Randel El said. "Even in the red zone, like dialing up plays right at the right moment ... where you know that play is, it’s not too close to the end zone and it’s not too far away, it’s the perfect spot to be able to call it. So you’ve seen him get more comfortable with calling those plays in that manner."

Campbell has acknowledged his learning curve.

He said there were three play calls he regretted after the Lions' Thanksgiving loss to the Chicago Bears, and he blamed himself for some of the Lions' false start problems in their Week 16 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

But he said this week he's managing his time better, seeing things more clear and "everything’s starting to begin to slow down."

"Like (Bill) Parcells used to always say, running a team’s like having a garden and the minute you neglect one area, it’ll wither and die if you’re not giving it attention or you’re not pulling weeds, you’re not watering," Campbell said. "And unfortunately you start figuring that out the hard way. So yeah, it’s been a process, but I can tell you this, I’m miles ahead of where I was three or four weeks ago. I feel that way. I’m so much more comfortable now. I do, I’m starting to figure it out. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect by any means, but I do feel a lot more comfortable."

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions' Dan Campbell open to calling plays in 2022