The Detroit Lions have a new coaching staff, and a big question that has surrounded the team is whether or not such a group could connect with players in a meaningful way.
Many wondered if players might tune out a coaching staff full of former players, and have thought that the team might struggle due to this fact. It seems the opposite could be true for the Lions, though.
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Through the offseason workout period, the Lions have been able to impress their team with the power of the new staff. Already, players who are new to the squad have had their eyes opened by Dan Campbell’s staff, and as ESPN’s Eric Woodyard explained in a piece, a few notable players on offense in Jamaal Williams and Amon-Ra St. Brown have already had their eyes opened by the experience.
Quoting a few players, he wrote:
“Detroit is the lone NFL team to have head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator each filled by former NFL players — and the roster already feels their presence.
“Most definitely, because they’ve been through it,” Lions running back Jamaal Williams said. “And, you can think ‘What can they say that’s gonna benefit me?’ but it’s like ‘Oh yeah, because they played in the league,’ or ‘Oh, yeah, because of their accolades.’ So, it’s like you can’t diss them for their experience, but coaches who’ve played, yeah, because they’ve been through it. They know.”
Rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown calls it “awesome” to learn from so many different football minds who actually played the game.
“I’m with the receiver coach [Randle El] the most, and he’ll say things every now and then where you’ll know he played,” St. Brown said. “He understands coverages and little things in between the routes to help us. It gives us knowledge, so you can tell that our coach played in the league and it’s awesome to have a coach like that.”
Early questions aside, it seems as if the Lions are achieving nearly 100 percent on their hopes of buy-in from the roster, and that’s great news. The new players seem to enjoy the teaching they have received from some of the players they watched growing up, and that experience seems to be paying off in terms of creating some great team chemistry.
At this point, the hope is that it can translate well into the season and pay off with some winning.
Lions Players Have Loved Dan Campbell, Hires
From newcomers to veterans to players who were on the team in the past alike, the Lions seem to have checked every box with Dan Campbell and his staff. In the beginning, players lined up to applaud the move and now that they have had a chance to meet with Campbell and his staff, they seem to be more in than ever before with the hire.
Names such as Trey Flowers, Nick Williams, Jeff Okudah and others have been very effusive in their praise of Campbell and the assistant coaches, and that information only seems to benefit the Lions, both now and in the future. Having trust in the coaching staff is huge, and the early ability of the staff to get some buy-in seems to be going well for the team.
Lions Culture Looking Better Already
It isn’t a stretch to proclaim the team much better off now than under Matt Patricia. Brad Holmes has come in and been a solid influence already, and Dan Campbell has shown to be the kind of leader that can galvanize young players and veteran players alike. Already, the team’s older players have taken a liking to the culture he is trying to build, and it’s not a stretch to say the young guys the team has drafted will fit the team like a glove. The front office is trying to bring Calvin Johnson back into the fold and keep their former players happy, so from top to bottom, it seems the franchise is simply in a better place than it was just less than a year ago.
Obviously, there’s a long way to go before the culture can be proclaimed to be completely fixed, but the Lions are certainly off to arguably their best start ever at getting things right. Having players trust their new coaches is a big way to get this done, and so far, the staff has met the team more than halfway.