Dan Campbell Defends Controversial Fourth Down Calls for Lions

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell coaching the Lions against the Bears in 2021.

One of the more interesting moments to come out of the Detroit Lions’ 24-14 defeat against the Chicago Bears in Week 4 was the continued aggressiveness of the team’s staff.

The Lions rolled the dice on fourth down three separate times in the game and only managed to make one conversion. Perhaps their most dramatic non-conversion came late in the fourth quarter trailing by 10 points and knocking on the door of the Chicago red zone again.

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Detroit watched as Jared Goff threw the ball away and the Bears took over on downs instead of taking a chance at making a short field goal that could have kept pressure on what was a reeling Chicago team. When the Lions turned the ball over on downs, the game essentially was over.

In spite of that, though, Dan Campbell wasn’t backing down after the game on either call. As he said, if his gut is telling him to go, he is going to continue to do it.

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“You kind of take it as it comes. My gut tells me to go for it. You get down there that tight, you get seven out of it, that’s a good thing.” Campbell said. “If it doesn’t work out which you don’t want, you got ’em pined back there. In a game like that where you get down a couple scores, kicking field goals might not be the game where as last week it could have been more of that game. You take it as it comes.”

Specifically, on the call late in the game, Campbell said he was showing his offense full confidence to make a play that thy simply didn’t end up making.

“I trusted us to score a touchdown. If I am going to continue to trust, then we have to start working it much better and be better, because we’re not efficient enough right now,” the coach said.

Improving schematically seems to be the only way the Lions are going to come through in those situations, seeing as it seems as if Campbell is going to continue trusting his gut and go, even when many fans might not think it is the right move.

Campbell Calls out Lions Red Zone Offense

Instead of focusing on the fourth down calls, Campbell instead chose to shift his attention toward what the Lions were not able to do in the red zone. As the coach seemed to think, execution was the bigger problem for the Lions rather than the calls for the team to go on fourth down.

“We need a lot of third down work, we need a lot of red zone work so that’s what we’re going to start focusing on. We’re going to do a ton of work down there. We’ve been having to move the ball pretty good. We did it for the most part today, inside the field, base down, first and second down. Now we got into some of these third downs, fourth downs, gotta have it’s, we get int the red zone. So we need work. If we nee to do three days of that this week, that’s all we’ll do. We’re not even gong to work base. But we’re going to get better at it.”

The Lions kicked away multiple chances early in the game in the red zone, and only managed 14 points on the day. To Campbell, that was the biggest issue offensively, and it’s something that he wants to find a way to correct.

Goff Stands With Staff’s Decision Making

The players clearly don’t have any division on the play calling or the aggressive nature of the staff. After the loss, Goff stuck to his guns and put more of the blame on himself and the team and their inability to execute rather than the play calls.

“You always want to go for it as an offense. Unfortunately we didn’t capitalize on any of them today. Obviously, it’s a different day if we do. It’s a different game and overall, all the red zone errors would have effected the game tremendously,” he said.

While some folks might not agree with the calls, Campbell and the Lions are sticking to their guns in this case. Whether that ends up benefitting the team remains to be seen.

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