Dan Campbell Reacts to Player-Coach Argument: ‘It’s High Emotions’

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell looks on in a Lions game against the 49ers.

The Detroit Lions had one of the most viral moments of Week 1 on the field on Sunday, when defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant lit up cornerback Jeff Okudah amid the heat of battle.

Reaction to the event came fast in real time on the internet, but there was not any reaction from the team or from head coach Dan Campbell until a few days after the event played out. Tuesday, September 14, the coach finally provided some thoughts on the matter.

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Speaking on the Stoney and Jansen Show on 97.1 The Ticket as recapped by Chris Burke of The Athletic, Campbell was asked about the now-viral exchange. As the coach said, he might not like the optics, but he does understand how heated things get during battle on the field in the moment. As he also said, it could be a way the team gets some good work done in the future having established that connection.

Sadly, the Lions won’t get to see Okudah’s response, as the cornerback went down with an Achilles injury soon after and was lost for the season. Even such, it’s clear there is a benefit to heated encounters on the field, as it can help bring players and coaches closer while also aiding in instruction.

While it might not look good in the moment, it’s clear Campbell understands the situation given he was a former player. That stands to benefit him and the team in navigating this scenario.


Watch Jeff Okudah-Aubrey Pleasant Exchange

The Lions’ defensive backfield struggled in Week 1’s 41-33 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and as he did much of 2020, cornerback Jeff Okudah took the brunt of the blame, although everyone has seeming played a role in the struggle at the position.

Early on in the game against the 49ers, the Lions had just allowed a touchdown drive. On the sidelines, Fox Sports cameras captured a heated coaching moment between defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant and Okudah. Multiple times, Pleasant looked to mouth the words “do your job” to Okudah during the exchange.

Here’s a look at the moment which was captured by The Lions Wire’s Scott Warheit on Twitter (h/t Dov Kleiman) and shared by plenty of others:

It isn’t a surprise to see Okudah under fire given the way he struggled in 2020 throughout his rookie year. There have been a number of questions about Okudah as a player, so seeing how he responds to this in the future after his injury will be important as he moves forward.

Sadly, injury will now prevent that from happening the rest of 2021.


Former NFL Player Shows Different Side of Okudah Situation

It’s fair to point out that the entire encounter between Pleasant and Okudah wasn’t completely negative, which is likely something that Campbell was alluding to in his response. As former defensive back Will Blackmon showed on Twitter, in a less shared moment later on, Pleasant went back and provided Okudah with some love, building him up following the outburst.

Here’s a look at the video:

As a whole, Blackmon is right. Folks focus on the initial outburst but forget that there are often overlooked important moments that occur just after the fact that aren’t nearly as explosive for the cameras. That could provide a big benefit for the players in terms of understanding the coaching staff is in their corner.

READ NEXT: Lions Rookie Called Possible ‘Next Man Up’ for Jeff Okudah


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