The Detroit Lions have taken a bit of an unconventional route toward finding their next head coach in Dan Campbell given the fact that Campbell does not have coordinator experience.
To some, that should have excluded Campbell from the job, seeing as plenty of the hottest candidates on the market are rising star type coordinators in charge of either an offense or a defense. The Lions, though, have chosen a man who is beholden to neither side of the ball, though his roots are surely offensive.
Does that mean this hire is doomed to fail? Not necessarily. NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks, who was a former scout in the league as well as a player, is adamant that previous experience as a high-level coordinator is not a prerequisite to success as a coach given there is much more on the plate of a boss. It’s something he says he wishes the media would understand.
Leadership is the key word, and with Campbell, that’s exactly what the Lions would be getting. The coach has command of the room and an ability to connect with players as he’s clearly shown. Deferring the play calling duties to other qualified people and delegating responsibility might only make Campbell and the team more effective. That’s what the Lions will be betting on happening, anyway.
Brad Holmes Defines Ideal Lions Coach
The good news? If Campbell is indeed the guy in Detroit as reports indicate, it sounds as if he’s got a general manager that is philosophically aligned with him already in Brad Holmes. During his introductory press conference, Holmes was asked to describe his ideal coach. Rather than say he wanted someone skewed to offense or defense, Holmes admitted that personality, presence and leadership tipped the scales for him in terms of the person.
“My number one core trait was he’s got to be a leader of men, he’s got to have presence. Within that presence, he has to have poise, he has to have confidence. He has to have command. He has to have mental toughness. He has to have intelligence. I stress the mental toughness part because there will be ups and downs where that stress tolerance has to be at the right level to be able to persevere.”
Having the coach set the tone and oversee the program while the coordinators coordinate and the position coaches teach is an excellent plan on the surface. It starts with leadership first, and it’s clear that will be the biggest buzz-word as Detroit’s new staff comes into focus.
Dan Campbell’s Coaching Experience Called Into Question
In the wake of the Lions targeting Campbell to be their next head coach, many have wondered if his lack of experience as a coordinator is bad news. That’s not completely the case, however, as Campbell has led a team before as a head coach albeit in an interim role. He’s also been the assistant head coach for the New Orleans Saints as well as a long time tight ends coach in the league. That experience could combine to give him an advantage over even the most seasoned coordinator.
Within Detroit’s search, Campbell’s role as a successful interim coach could have loomed large. Campbell inherited a mess in Miami and managed to get the team pulling in the right direction enough to finish with a 5-7 record under his leadership. While that might not sound impressive, consider the way some teams bottom out after firing their boss. Campbell had the Dolphins not only relevant, but galvanized the entire locker room and flipped a culture in the course of weeks. That takes leadership and command. A coordinator might not have been able to salvage that if he didn’t have the needed leadership traits embedded within.
Campbell might not have the coordinating experience so many seem to crave, but if he is the right type of leader, that won’t matter at all as Brooks hints.