The Detroit Lions have their new coach in Dan Campbell, and many are likely split on the impact the boss will have on his new team.
Many will understand that Campbell can bring some interesting intangibles to the mix such as his ability to connect with players. That is just the sentiment that many who know the man are sharing as he ascends to his first non-interim head coaching role in the league.
One player who is sure to know Campbell well and understand all he can bring to the table? Former Michigan Wolverines’ offensive tackle Jake Long. Long played for the Miami Dolphins when Campbell was coaching with the the team starting in 2012. Though he was off the roster quickly after that, Long still knows Campbell as good fit for the Lions.
As Long said on Twitter after the news was revealed that the Lions were hiring Campbell to be the coach, it was an excellent move for Detroit because Campbell is a great coach.
— Jake Long (@JakeLong77) January 20, 2021
Long would know having worked with Campbell and his positions given he was an offensive lineman and Campbell was a tight ends coach. The two spots tend to overlap, so there is a good chance Long has worked with Campbell closely in the time he was with Miami before moving on. That clearly gives him a good idea about what will make the coach a success.
Dan Campbell Praised By Former Players
Long wasn’t the only one reacting favorably to the news in recent days. A couple of folks reached out to players who know Campbell well following news last week he was Detroit’s choice for coach, and the answer they received was positive in terms of his ability to connect with players. As former Lions lineman T.J. Lang found out, players that are working with Campbell in New Orleans feel very strongly about him.
Like a lot of @Lions fans, I’m not too familiar with Dan Campbell. I did ask a few buddies that played with the Saints past few years and couple quotes I got were “awesome leader, great coach. Detroit would love him”. So there’s that.
— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) January 15, 2021
Similarly, Matt Dery spoke with a player from the 2015 Dolphins, a team that Campbell took over in an interim role after the firing of Joe Philbin and led to a respectable 5-7 record considering the circumstances. As that player said, all the Miami players from that time would run through a wall for Campbell.
Just got a message back from a member of the 2015 #Dolphins who played for Dan Campbell. It reads:
“We would all run through a wall for that man.”
— Matt Dery (@DerySpeaks) January 16, 2021
It’s pretty clear that while Campbell might not be a household name to many around the league, those who do know him or have worked with him hold him in very high esteem. With that in mind, it’s not hard to see how he could have impressed the Lions in interviews enough to get the job.
Player Respect Key for Dan Campbell With Lions
Obviously, communication will be key for Campbell as he comes to Detroit considering what went wrong with Matt Patricia. The last staff did not earn the trust of the players, and Campbell will have to work on that from day one when he comes into the mix for the Lions. The players will not care what Campbell knows until they know he cares, so the relationships he creates will be very important to lay the foundation for his regime.
The words of players like Long who played for Campbell paint the picture of a guy who can connect and be the type of leader the team and the city need for the Lions. That’s the big hope at this stage of the game, because leadership is a must considering what happened before.
Long is clearly in the corner of his former coach and thinks he will do well in the Motor City.