Now that the New Orleans Saints are out of the NFL postseason, the Detroit Lions are expected to hire Saints assistant coach Dan Campbell as their next head coach, sources told Adam Schoetfer of ESPN.
The two sides have yet to reach an agreement, but that is not considered a breach of the deal, and Campbell is the head coach the Lions want to hire, sources told Schefter.
Campbell replaces Matt Patricia, who was fired in November after less than three seasons, for the franchise and record 13-29-1, as the club tries to drop its last NFC North spot in the past three years.
Campbell, 44, who has never been a coordinator in the NFL, is considered a motivator and someone who can build a team rather than the X’s and O’s guru. The Lions looked for people they considered consistent while identifying the qualities they felt were important to make a franchise that won a Super Bowl-era playoff and the last division title in 1993 a winner.
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I think management and someone who can work with the CEO, team president Rod Wood said earlier this month. And someone who has experience as a head coach or can project experience as a coordinator to a head coach and really dig into this stuff.
It’s not that we didn’t do this when we were looking for Matt, but I think that by doing things differently, we hope to find the right people.
Campbell doesn’t have much experience as a head coach, but the Lions have clearly seen that, as has new general manager Brad Holmes. Without the experience of calling on both sides of the ball that Campbell brings as a facilitator, his success will be critical.
Among the first decisions he and Holmes will have to make after the personnel reshuffle are the futures of star receiver Kenny Golladay, who becomes a free agent in March, and quarterback Matthew Stafford, whose contract runs through the 2022 season. Campbell may also have to make a decision on a former teammate, Don Muhlbach, who, prior to Campbell’s hiring, was the team’s last liaison after a winless 2008 and is the player with the second-longest tenure in Detroit history behind goalie Jason Hanson.
Campbell spent ten seasons in the NFL, including the final three years of his career with the Lions.
After his playing career ended with injuries after one season with the Saints, Campbell began his coaching career with the Miami Dolphins as a trainer in 2010 and then, after Joe Philbin was fired in Miami in 2015, as an interim coach for the final 12 games of that season.
Campbell went 5-7 with the Dolphins but didn’t get a full-time job and ended up with the Saints, where he spent the last five seasons under coach Sean Payton. One of the reasons he went to New Orleans was to be trained by Peyton in case he got another full-time job.
I’ll tell you it’s number two on the list, Campbell told ESPN’s Mike Triplett in 2018. The first thing I know is that Sean and I have history. So I only knew him as a person and as a coach. To be reunited with Him means to be at peace.
Lions interviewed at least six candidates for this position: New Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith, New York Jets coach Robert Saleh, former Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Benimi, acting Lions head coach Darrell Bevell, and Campbell. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano reported that the Lions also asked Iowa State coach Matt Campbell.
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