The Detroit Lions have seen lots of shakeups with their staff this offseason, and lots of changes have come along to the group that works closely with Dan Campbell.
Just because that’s the case, though, doesn’t mean the team has to take too much of a hit. The additions the team made this offseason can help them over the top, and already, it seems as if the coach feels good about the direction the staff has taken.
Speaking at the NFL combine on Wednesday, March 1, Campbell was asked about some of the comings and goings on his staff. He singled out three important additions and spoke at length about what each will mean.
In terms of the top move, Campbell seemed most pleased by adding Scottie Montgomery to coach running backs and serve as the team’s assistant head coach. Fate might have brought Montgomery back to the team.
“I interviewed him for the offensive coordinator position last year, which we went with Ben Johnson, and I was impressed. Everything happens for a reason, so to be able to acquire him as our running back coach, assistant head coach from the Colts was big,” Campbell told the media. “I think he’s going to be an outstanding teacher. I think he’s got a lot of versatility. He’s coached the receivers, he’s coached running backs. He’s been a head coach. He’s been a coordinator. He’s worked with quarterbacks, so I just think that this is a talented coach that’s got a lot of wisdom. He’s a motivator (with) energy, so we’re happy to have him.”
Campbell also gave a shout-out to one of Detroit’s more underrated additions to the staff in Steve Heiden, who joined as a tight end coach. Though he might not be the biggest name, Campbell clearly likes what he brings from a teaching standpoint to a young room that is trying to improve.
“I think Steve Heiden is an outstanding addition. Tanner (Engstrand) did a nice job for us, and now he’s exclusively passing game coordinator. Steve Heiden will bring something to that room we need. It’s a young group. We may still add, that’s a possibility but he’ll bring a type of toughness to that room that we need and experience,” Campbell said.
Finally, the team added former Pro Bowl cornerback Dre Bly to coach the same position in Detroit. Campbell saw the same traits in Bly as a coach that he did as a player, which could be a huge advantage to Detroit’s young secondary.
“The vision of that (hire) was, he’s going to work with these corners and his deal was technique. He’s been coaching at North Carolina for the last couple of years, but he did at a high level and he did it because he was able to play with technique. He’ll bring a certain type of attitude and fundamentals that Aaron Glenn is looking for,” Campbell said.
Add it up and it’s clear the coach loves the additions he has been able to make for his staff. He was able to fill holes and not only add fantastic people, but good teachers as well. Though the team will miss those who have moved on, it’s not the end of the world for the Lions given who they did add.
Campbell Talks John Fox Addition to Lions
Another big move for the Lions came along this week when the team added former NFL head coach John Fox to the mix as a senior defensive consultant.
That move has seemed important for the Lions, and Campbell confirmed that to him, Fox has a fire and a passion for the advisory job that he has been hired to do in the last two cycles.
“John was defensive coordinator when I was at the Giants as a young player and that’s where our relationship began. A very successful head coach, three different teams in this league and he’s been out of it for about five years. He went back to Indy last year kind of in the same capacity, senior defensive assistant, and you could see the the fire in him. It’s impressive,” he explained. “He just he misses the chess match, he misses preparing for an opponent and just worrying about defense so I think he’s going to be great at helping Aaron Glenn, just watching his blind spots.”
Fox will add an experienced eye to the mix for the Lions, who will be glad to add his 45 year experience to the staff. The fact he has a good relationship with Campbell might only serve to benefit this relationship in the end.
Fox has coached in big-time games as well as Super Bowls, so he could give the Lions a good idea of how to take the next steps as an organization, and give Campbell and Glenn a fantastic ear to lean on.
Steve Heiden’s Career Biography
Out of the names that Campbell singled out first in speaking about his new staff was Heiden, a tight end coach the team hired away from Arizona earlier this offseason.
In terms of loyalty, Heiden is a guy who has shown that trait off in spades through the years. In his playing career, he only played for two teams in a 10 year career in the league.
Heiden started out with the then San Diego Chargers, where he was a third-round pick out of South Dakota State in 1999. His first two years in the league, Heiden only produced two total touchdowns and 87 yards.
A 2002 trade sent Heiden packing to the Cleveland Browns, where he would spend the next seven years of his career. Heiden would be much more productive there, putting up a total of 1,602 yards and 12 career scores.
Heiden would get into coaching at the end of his career, and joined Arizona as an assistant special teams and tight end coach, a role he had until 2017. In 2018, he served as the team’s assistant special teams coach. From 2019 until now, he was the tight end coach for the team.
Heiden worked with multiple different coaches and front office regimes during his playing and coaching career, and remained constant. While Campbell likes all the coaches he added, Heiden might be a very significant one to watch next year.