The Detroit Lions are pushing toward a new season, and this year, they figure to have some solid continuity at the key spot of head coach.
Unlike 2021, the Lions are not transitioning to a new boss, which is the good news for Dan Campbell. The bad news? Heading toward a new season with a rebuilt roster, the coach might not be thought of that highly against his own peers.
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Recently, Pro Football Focus and writer Conor McQuiston ranked head coaches in the league before the 2022 season in terms of analytics. As expected, Campbell was not within the top five or even the top 10. The coach was nestled way far back in the 23 spot and the “room for improvement” category for this coming season, and the analyst might not see a fast way out for the coach given the roster he is working with.
“While Campbell is just one season into his head coaching tenure with a roster lacking talent, it is difficult to have an optimistic view of his performance,” McQuiston wrote in the piece.
Obviously, the Lions have struggled thanks to their roster, which has been the bad news. The hope is the coach can get more out of his roster as he moves on in his career, especially starting in 2022.
Analytically speaking, Campbell still hasn’t been that impressive in the mind of PFF. Whether he can pull himself out of this remains to be seen, but it’s clear the sentiments elsewhere might not completely agree with the conclusions of this piece.
Campbell Generating Early Coach of the Year Buzz
While many folks may not be impressed with what he did last year, already, Campbell is seeing some notable hype before the 2022 season. This time, many see the coach as a potential dark-horse contender for Coach of the Year. Analyst Adam Levitan wrote about the fact he is placing a bet on Campbell to take home the hardware for next season and why.
“Took Dan Campbell 60-1 on CAES (it’s 30-1 elsewhere) to be 2022 Coach of Year. Sneaky strong offense. Play in meh division. Only won 3 games last year, can get big delta. Will bite a kneecap off. When you have chance to tie up money on the Lions for 9 months, you do it,” Levitan tweeted.
The Lions could become a much better team and if they do, Campbell could be set to get plenty of credit for not only his plan but his leadership. That could vault him into play for such an award, which would be a big tribute to the Lions.
While Campbell may not be generating tons of love now, his candidacy for this honor is something to watch for in a big way moving forward when the 2022 season finally begins in a few more months.
Recapping Campbell’s 2021 Season With Lions
Campbell probably deserves a bit more praise for what he did with the Lions and where the team could be trending for this coming season. Last year, the Lions were one of the toughest teams in the league during the 2021 season, even if it did not translate into immediate wins. Detroit was in nearly every game that was played and never backed down. They managed to do this in spite of multiple players being lost due to injury as well as illness outbreaks late in the season. With this in mind, it seems a minor miracle that the Lions beat Minnesota and Arizona, a pair of teams that were in playoff race as well as tying Pittsburgh, a team that ended up in the AFC postseason. In the end, it was an obvious testament to the toughness Campbell preached about on his first day.
Offensively and defensively, there is still much to work out with the roster in terms of improvements and depth, but Campbell did a decent job to managed things overall. He was an aggressive coach on fourth-down, and looks to be an innovator in terms of decision making in those moments. Campbell also rolled the dice appropriately with a multitude of fake punts and onside kicks, showing his vigorous side. When he took over play calling, the offense seemed to improve in a tangible way.
Overall, it was a solid start for Campbell as it relates to laying a foundation. The boss might have a long way to go toward changing minds this year and in the future, however, as this ranking shows.