Dan Campbell: ‘I believe Aaron Glenn is the right man for the job’ running the Lions defense

Detroit head coach Dan Campbell: “I believe Aaron Glenn is the right man for the job” to fix the Lions NFL-worst defense

A day after the Detroit Lions gave up 48 points to the Seattle Seahawks, disappointment in defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is at a fever pitch. The Seahawks did not have to punt once, the first time in their 46-year existence that Seattle has not punted.

Head coach Dan Campbell hinted at some changes during his postgame press conference. However, Glenn’s job status will not be one of those changes. Campbell made that clear during his press conference before Monday’s practice in Allen Park.

“(Glenn) and I are still working through that,” Campbell said when asked about how the league’s worst defense can be fixed.

Campbell did say, “We’re going to need to move some personnel around” without offering any specifics.

As for Glenn, Campbell fielded a question framed around his in-season demotion of offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn last year. Campbell took over the OC job after 10 games and the move worked; Detroit has had one of the NFL’s top offenses since making the tough decision.

“I’m not afraid to make a hard decision if I really believed that’s the cause of it,” Campbell said. “And I don’t believe it is (with Glenn). I believe that Aaron Glenn is the right man for the job. He gives us our best hope, our best option to run this defense.”

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Frustrated Dan Campbell ‘going to look at everything’ to fix Detroit’s broken defense

Frustrated Lions coach Dan Campbell is “going to look at everything” to fix Detroit’s broken defense

There was no hiding from the dismay and disgust of the Detroit Lions defense after the team’s 48-45 home loss in Week 4 to the Seattle Seahawks. Head coach Dan Campbell addressed his woeful defense head-on following the disappointing loss.

“Yeah, we’re going to look at everything. We’re going to look at it all, top to bottom,” a visibly frustrated Campbell told reporters after the game.

Seattle ran for 235 yards and passed for another 320. The Seahawks never punted in the game, the first time in franchise history they’ve done so. The Lions defense failed to record a sack and did not force a takeaway; Seattle’s lost fumble came on a punt return.

Coordinator Aaron Glenn’s defense often seemed completely helpless to stop journeyman QB Geno Smith playing behind an offensive line starting two rookie tackles. It was too easy, too often against Glenn’s defense, something Campbell noted after the game.

“And I look at everything with (Glenn) AG,” said Campbell. “We’ll look at everything we need to. To the scheme, to our personnel, and we’ll find the best fit and whatever we feel like’s going to give us the best chance and the best chance in three or four weeks too. If that’s a young player, it’s a young player.”

Campbell made a tough call in his first season in Detroit, taking the offense away from coordinator Anthony Lynn midway through the year. That decision paid off for Campbell and Detroit, which has had one of the NFL’s top offenses ever since. The head coach has proven he’s not afraid to make changes, and they could be in order again. The Lions defense ranks dead last in points allowed and could wind up last in yards allowed once Week 4 wraps.

“Yeah, listen it’s frustrating,” Campbell said. “It’s frustrating and I have nobody to blame but myself. So, I’ll – that’s on me to handle that and can’t keep saying that, can’t keep writing that, can’t keep – so, there again I’ll look at everything. It is frustrating.”

We all are frustrated, coach. It’s time for more than just words, unfortunately…

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Dan Campbell offers updates on several injured Lions players entering Week 4

Dan Campbell offers updates on several injured Lions players entering Week 4 including D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown

Dan Campbell’s pre-practice press conference on Wednesday was more like a shift change briefing at the nurse’s station in the hospital. The first several minutes, and really the vast majority of the press conference, was the Lions head coach offering updates on a litany of injured Detroit players.

Campbell hit upon quite a few players who will sit out practice, including WR DJ Chark, TE T.J. Hockenson, LG Jonah Jackson, C Frank Ragnow, WR Josh Reynolds, RB D’Andre Swift and WR Amon-Ra St. Brown. He offered a little more details on some of those walking wounded.

On Ragnow, “We’re obviously optimistic with Frank (Ragnow), just giving him a breather. Ragnow missed Week 2 with a toe injury but played every snap in Week 3.

He then hit starting receivers Chark and Reynolds.

“Chark I think will be okay, Reynolds will be okay,” Campbell read from his notes. “We’ll take it day-to-day and see where he’s at.”

Swift “would have to be significantly better” to play, Campbell added with an allusion to a miracle. He was more optimistic about St. Brown’s chances, calling the team’s top wideout “really day-to-day” but not as far along as Reynolds.

Campbell summed it up with this message to his team,

“Next man up, we’re ready to roll.”

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Dan Campbell offers a message to Lions fans after the rough loss in Week 3

Detroit head coach Dan Campbell offers a message to Lions fans after the rough loss in Week 3

In the aftermath of a disheartening Detroit loss that brought more than a few cries of “Same Old Lions” from a lot of fans and media members (both local and national), head coach Dan Campbell offered up some words of encouragement.

During his press conference back at the team headquarters in Allen Park on Monday, Campbell was asked if he had anything to say to the long-suffering fans. Campbell played in Detroit during the Matt Millen era, so he’s acutely aware of the agony of defeat.

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Here’s what Campbell had to say,

“Yeah, listen, I get the road that everybody’s been down. Listen, I’m not sweating it. I’m not sweating it, this team’s not sweating it. We’ve got a long season. You look out throughout this League, and it happens this way every year, and I feel like what happens to you early in the season is – it really molds who you’re going to be as the season goes on and late in the season. Those ones that can endure the adversity of the season, the ups and downs and just stay in the race are the ones that have success. And that’s all we’ve got to worry about is our own – we’ve just got to – let’s clean up all the little errors.

And I told them, I said, ‘Look, failing isn’t failure unless you don’t learn from it.’ And so, that was a tough one. We were up two scores. Should have won that game, but you know what, we didn’t earn the right to win that game. Minnesota did, and we’ve got to look long and hard in the mirror to ourselves, and we’ve got to clean up these errors. And it’s not an excuse, but we are still young, and we’ve got some guys that even though they’re not old players, they haven’t played a lot of football, or they’re not young players, they haven’t played a lot of football.

So, we’ve got to learn from it, and we’ve got to move on and be better the next time it comes up, but I’m not – listen this is not time to go into panic mode. This is not the time to worry. This is time to do just what we did from Philly to Washington. Let’s just get better. Let’s just focus on the little details, so that’s what it’s about.”

Let’s focus on the second paragraph for a second. Campbell dished out a critical statement,

“Failing isn’t failure unless you don’t learn from it.”

This has been where previous regimes in Detroit have dropped the ball. The failures are painful to deal with, as Campbell well knows. But the ability to build from the failures and learn from the mistakes, implementing changes that will help prevent more losses down the road, that’s where Campbell can be a difference-maker for the Lions. It starts with the coach himself and his in-game decision-making failures.

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The Lions are leading (if not winning) with a dominant rushing attack

The Detroit Lions are 1-2, but they have an offense that should be the envy of the rest of the league.

The 2922 Detroit Lions are 1-2 and at the bottom of the NFC North after the first three weeks of the season, so it may seem odd to write an entire article about how awesome Detroit’s offense is. But it’s important to evaluate the process as opposed to the outcome. The Lions lost 38-35 to the Philadelphia Eagles in the opener, and the Eagles look very much like a Super Bowl team. They then beat the Washington Commanders, 36-27, and that’s what you want to do when you’re a team on the rise — beat the teams beneath you in the pecking order.

Sunday’s 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings was the real killer; Detroit had a 24-14 third-quarter lead, and they then let it get away. We don’t really know what the Vikings are yet, just as we don’t know what the Lions are. But what we do know is that the offense led by head coach Dan Campbell, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, and assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley, has brought an entirely new energy and productiveness than we’ve seen before.

Atypically, the strength of this offense is the run game, and everything works off that. Even in the Vikings loss, the Lions ran the ball 35 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and though they were more efficient and explosive in the passing game against Minnesota, those explosive plays were built to a great degree off that run threat.

We’ll get to that in a bit, but let’s start with how the Lions are killing defenses with run concepts of every stripe, in every situation.

“It goes back to thought process,” Staley said last week, when asked why this rushing attack is working now, when it didn’t in previous years. “It goes back to OTAs, training camp, and making a commitment. And not just the players making a commitment, the coaches also. So, you see [offensive line coach] Hank [Fraley], myself being – everybody, you make a commitment to run a ball, you just – you spend a couple extra hours in the office trying to get it right.”

The multiplicity of concepts are most impressive, especially with injuries all over their offensive line. Let’s start with how Detroit’s run game beats defenses from the head down.

Regretful Dan Campbell on his decision to try the late FG in loss to Vikings: ‘I hate it’

A regretful Dan Campbell admits “I hate the decision” to kick the late missed FG in the loss to the Vikings

The Detroit Lions snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the Week 3 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings prevailed 28-24 thanks to a late touchdown set up by a truly awful coaching choice from Detroit’s Dan Campbell.

With the Lions leading 24-21 and 1:14 left on the clock, Detroit faced 4th-and-4 from the Vikings’ 36-yard line. Campbell elected to trot out the field goal unit instead of going for it.

As he did on the Lions first offensive possession, kicker Austin Seibert missed the field goal attempt. The combination of positive momentum and good field position carried the Vikings to a too-easy go-ahead touchdown.

After the game, Campbell knew he screwed this one up.

“I hate it,” Campbell said somberly. “I just hate the decision.”

Coach Campbell continued,

” I wish I’d have put it back in (the offense’s) hands offensively. So be it. I just wish I’d done that.”

Just for clarity, Campbell very carefully enunciated this statement,

“I regret that decision 100 percent, I really do … I really feel like I cost our team.”

This one clearly stung Campbell, who was speaking the truth. His decision backfired and the coach knows it.

Dan Campbell heaps praise on Lions OL coach Hank Fraley

Dan Campbell heaps praise on Lions OL coach Hank Fraley after a fantastic Week 2 from his makeshift unit

Hank Fraley is one of the few Detroit Lions holdovers from the prior regime that is still around the new-look team. The offensive line coach proved once again on Sunday why head coach Dan Campbell and GM Brad Holmes were smart to keep Fraley in Detroit.

All Fraley did was help prepare replacement starters at all three interior line positions for Sunday’s game against the Washington Commanders, a team featuring one of the league’s best defensive fronts. Dan Skipper had one practice at left guard before being asked to start at the unfamiliar position, his first NFL start no less.

Fraley’s pupils graded out pretty darn well on their test. Detroit ran for 191 yards and QB Jared Goff had enough time to toss four touchdown passes behind the makeshift line.

Campbell heaped praise upon Fraley in his press conference on Monday.

“He’s been very important,” Campbell said of Fraley. “Hank’s got a good feel of it, having played the position, but also coached it. And he’s got a real good feel of those guys, what they do well, how to develop the talent, and he just – he’s got a real good feel of how to pull it out of them.”

Fraley played center in the NFL for a decade and did so despite not being an outstanding athletic specimen. He sees himself as more of a teacher than a coach, something he told me in an interview at the Senior Bowl this year. His teaching skills are readily evident. Campbell knows and appreciates how well Fraley pulls it off,

“I mean, that’s – one of the things that’s not always – when you’ve played at this level like he has and played for a long time, and you’re not the best athlete –like, I wasn’t the best athlete, but you’ve got to understand the technique and you can give guys things that they need to survive and that’s what Hank’s able to do. And so, it’s one thing to do that, but man, you’ve got to be able to communicate and you’ve got to be able to motivate to push these guys. Because sometimes, man, when you’re an ex-player the – there’s a lot of guys that’ll start backing off and taking it easy because you feel a little bad for them because you know what that’s like, man, that’s hard. It’s hard, but you can’t do that, you’ve got to continue to push and he’s got a good balance of that. So, he’s very important to us.”

Fraley is in his third season as the Lions OL coach and fifth overall in Detroit. He’s been critical in developing not just premium talents like first-rounders Penei Sewell, Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow but also capable reserves such as center Evan Brown, Tommy Kraemer and now Skipper.

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Dan Campbell on the Lions’ Week 2 win: ‘We needed that’

Lions head coach Dan Campbell admitted “we needed that” after big Week 2 home win over the Washington Commanders

There was a definite sense of cathartic relief in Lions coach Dan Campbell after Sunday’s win over the Washington Commanders. The 36-27 triumph capped a trying week for Campbell as he shuffled personnel due to injuries and tried to manage expectations with his team favored for the first time in his NFL coaching career.

“Listen, that was a good win for us. We needed that, that was number one,” Campbell said at the beginning of his postgame press conference.

Campbell quickly turned to how well his team came out and treated the Ford Field fans to some good football.

“I thought the defense set the tone for that game, which we felt was going to be critical this week. We needed special teams to make a play. I thought we did with (return man Kalif Raymond) Lif and I thought our coverages were good.

Man, our offense, I thought was steady and reliable, and when we needed it, man, we answered back when those guys made some plays. We did exactly what we needed to do. We were much more detailed and disciplined.”

Campbell’s defense did not allow Washington to pick up a first down until the Commander’s sixth offensive possession. When the Commanders did get their offense rolling late, the Lions own offense was able to step up and keep the lead at a safe distance. The special teams were very good all afternoon, too.

It made the head coach a happy man. The reinforcing invigoration of the win was something Campbell talked about, a topic his coaching mentor, Sean Payton, also brought up on FOX Sports after the game.

“Listen, it feels good to win. That’s what it does, it feels good to win. Because there’s a lot of hard work that’s put in it across the board. I think the best thing about it is our guys, they trust in the system, they believe in what we’re doing as coaches and the schemes, and they believe in how we’re setting them up for success and they believe in the plan and they execute the plan. That’s a credit to those guys. They never gave up. They never lost hope and they won’t ever. That’s how we assembled this team, so they know what we’re capable of. It’s a step in the right direction, but that’s one. That’s
one.”

Campbell’s 1-1 Lions take to the road in Week 3 to face the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings.

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The Detroit Lions’ win over the Commanders proved they’re immensely fun despite Jared Goff

The Lions are getting big plays from guys like Amor-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift and have become appointment viewing.

The Detroit Lions were not supposed to be this good this quickly.

Detroit is barely a year removed from the Matt Patricia era, a movement in which the franchise replaced a winning coach (Jim Caldwell, 36-28) for a branch of the Bill Belichick coaching tree who promptly made the team mostly unwatchable. Things went badly enough that winning three games in the final six weeks of 2021 felt like a major accomplishment for rookie head coach Dan Campbell.

Still, 2022 was supposed to be a placeholder year for a team waiting for Jared Goff’s contract to expire and a draft class worthy of spending a top five pick on a quarterback. Instead, there’s a pretty good chance the Lions won’t be drafting that high come April.

Through two games, Detroit is 1-1. It’s scoring 35.5 points per game. Amon-Ra St. Brown has emerged as an alpha wideout averaging 8.5 catches and 90 yards per game — a 145 catch, 1,500-yard season-long pace. D’Andre Swift is averaging an even 10 yards per carry, 131 total yards and a touchdown per game. He finds the end zone even when he falls down 20 yards away from it.

But most surprising piece of the puzzle may be Jared Goff, the former MVP candidate who was so badly broken by the end of his Rams tenure that he was replaced by John Wolford come playoff time. Goff has six touchdown passes and only one interception in two games. He’s averaging only 6.6 yards per pass — pretty grim! — but is the center of one of the league’s most dynamic and exciting offenses, despite being, well, aggressive average even with that TD:INT ratio..

via RBSDM.com and the author

What’s driving this team to wins? Singular playmakers making huge plays.

What’s the difference between this team and the one that started last season 0-10-1? There aren’t too many major changes. All 425 of the team’s total yards in Week 2 came from players who ended 2021 on the Detroit roster. While Aidan Hutchinson has made an impact, the defense remains the same kind of troubling that means the Lions have to score 29+ for a win.

That’s not the makeup of a good team, necessarily, but in a down year for the NFC you don’t have to be especially great to make a seven-team playoff field. It does, however, make Detroit exceedingly fun to watch, which is a sentence no one uttered once during the Patricia years.

Look at what Campbell’s doing for his guys. Tell me you wouldn’t want to play for this man. Tell me you wouldn’t run through a wall for the coach who rewards the promoted practice squad guard for years of hard work by sending him up to the podium after a win!

Campbell’s a big, goofy Mason jar of football cliches and hyperactive press conferences. He’s also a capital-F Football Guy coaching a bunch of guys who are either tired of losing or looking to prove themselves. His motivation has resonated and he’s got the Lions playing like more than the sum of their parts.

That rules.

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Dan Skipper honored by Dan Campbell after the Lions win over the Commanders

Skipper played a great game in emergency duty and Campbell honored him by letting Skipper take the postgame podium first

One of the toughest scenes of the Lions’ appearance on Hard Knocks during training camp was when head coach Dan Campbell had to tell veteran offensive lineman Dan Skipper that he did not make the 53-man roster. Skipper had an impressive summer playing both left and right tackle–his best and most consistent body of work in his five NFL seasons.

“What more could I have done,” a dejected Skipper asked Campbell. The head coach acknowledged it was a very difficult decision, but he valued Skipper and wanted him back on the practice squad

On Sunday, Skipper rewarded his coach’s faith in him and proved what more he could do for Campbell and the Lions. Starting in an emergency at left guard–a position he’s never played before–the 6-foot-10 Skipper played a very good game overall. It was his first-ever NFL start. Skipper was no small part of the Lions’ first-half dominance and did not have any obvious mistakes after giving up a sack on the first offensive possession.

To show how much Skipper’s professionalism and dedication meant to Campbell, the head coach sent out Skipper to meet with the media before Campbell himself talked. It’s a sterling example of everything Campbell preaches to his players–your hard work will be recognized and rewarded.

Before Campbell took questions from the media after heading to the podium himself, he singled out Skipper as well.

“I thought Dan Skipper did a hell of a job.”

From the locker room:

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