Dan Campbell Makes Fantastic Comparison for Lions vs. Jets Battle

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell coaching the Lions against Minnesota in 2022.

The Detroit Lions try to pride themselves as one of the toughest teams in the NFL, and that has certainly proven to be the case more than once this year for Dan Campbell.

Interestingly enough, they will also face a team that has similar aspirations in the New York Jets. That dynamic is something that excites Detroit head coach Dan Campbell as his team gets ready for another challenge.

Alive and wall in the NFC playoff race after being left for dead early in November, the Lions will face arguably the biggest test they have left relative to mindset and record when they travel to New Jersey this weekend.

Campbell knows the Jets are tough, and he had nothing but praise for them and Robert Saleh when he spoke to the media on Wednesday, December 14.

“I think it’s a huge test because I know that this team we’re getting ready to face is very much like we are. I think coach (Robert) Saleh, he’s about the toughness and overcoming adversity, all these things and you’re built a certain way,” Campbell explained of the matchup.

The way the game will be played – outdoors and physical – shapes up to make this battle perhaps a bit bigger than some others for Campbell.

“We’re going up to their place, we’re out in the elements, though I don’t think it’ll be too bad and we’re both jockeying for playoff positions here,” he said. “I think this is critical for both of us, so this is a heavyweight fight and because I love our offensive line and this is a worthy, quality opponent – especially their front – it’s gonna be pretty fun.”

Entering into the season, few would have seen the Lions vs. Jets as a heavyweight prize fight, but with the way the season has turned for both teams, it has shaped up that way. That adds a layer of excitement for a couple fanbases who have had their share of frustration the last three decades.

Lions, Jets Mirror Images During 2022

Amid both team’s rebuilds, things are starting to look up. Each squad has a head coach that is a dynamic leader. New York possesses a hometown favorite for Lions fans in Dearborn’s Robert Saleh, while Detroit has Campbell, a man who has earned his own stripes with the fans.

While the results may not have been there in terms of wins and losses for both teams the last two seasons, there’s been glimpses of hope for each side. In 2021, the Jets managed to knock off Tennessee and Cincinnati, while the Lions scored upset wins over Arizona and Green Bay down the stretch. That seemed to fuel them for 2022.

This season, the Jets have seven wins to their credit and the Lions have six. Already, each side is poised to finish much better than they did in 2021. Both are physical on defense. While New York is a bit better statistically, the Lions have rebounded. Offensively, the Lions may have the upper hand, but the Jets are just as opportunistic.

This week, the game will be a fun one for both sides. Each could still be seen as firmly within the playoff conversation, so a win or loss could mean a great deal as Campbell points out. A victory could go a long way toward determining how the season will end for both teams, and also, determining where the rebuild is for each side.

Campbell Sees Biggest Test in Jets’ Defense

So when the game gets going, what will be the biggest test for Detroit? Not only the toughness factor, but New York’s gritty defense that will butt heads with Detroit’s high-flying offense.

This season, the Jets are a top-three defense, and only allow a stout 301 yards per-game. They allow an amazing 189.4 passing yards per-game and have surrendered just 12 touchdowns. Detroit’s offense, meanwhile, is top-three in the NFL putting up 376 yards per-game and an impressive 248 yards through the air with 22 scores.

Campbell sees the Jets as a team that’s in your face from the first snap of the game on, and knows it will be a challenge for his offense.

“They’re aggressive. They’re aggressive and they’re very disruptive, especially that front. They have physical safeties, the corners will challenge you. Sauce (Gardner) is having a good year. So is (DJ) Reed, he’ll fight you over there on the other side too, so this is a defense that makes you earn anything you can get. Our offense, we got our work cut out for us. I mean, (defense is) the strength of this team,” he said.

Obviously, something will have to give. Do the Lions try to force their strengths on New York, or alter their game plan a bit? Campbell sees the answer as being a combination.

“I think you got to be able to try to do both. You’re going to need to go good on good, you’re going to need to challenge them because they’re going to challenge us. But, we also got to be able to to do other things too and certainly we’re gonna need to be able to do some things where we take what they’re willing to give up. Sometimes you got to take the completions that are there and you got to do something with it. You got to tuck the ball away. This is a run and hit defense,” Campbell said.

Everything’s shaping up for this game being fantastic, and it could live up to its heavyweight billing from Campbell. Both coaches wouldn’t likely have it any other way.

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