The Detroit Lions are in a better situation, even if they have three fewer wins than their record last season.
Regardless of what happens during their season closer against the Green Bay Packers, they are in a better position than last year.
They finally have Dan Campbell, who instilled an indomitable fighting spirit that the team lacked for so long.
Dan Campbell is coach of the year in my heart pic.twitter.com/g7oih53ZOY
— ThatsGoodSports (@BrandonPerna) December 26, 2021
Their effort might not translate to more victories, but it will only be a matter of time before the Lions start their march to relevance.
No one knows how long that process will be or how many transactions they need to finalize.
But after quite some time, they’ve found a coach that will help turn their fortunes around.
A Player’s Coach
Campbell set the tone during his introductory press conference by saying that they must “bite off knee caps” to win.
But aside from setting the tone from day one, he became a beloved figure on the sidelines because he was one with his players.
He had a way of relating with them, and he performed drills with players during practices.
He also charmed media members with his fascinating quotes.
Went back and listened to Dan Campbell's introductory press conference and he pretty much accomplished everything he said he was going to do year one. This team took the identity of the city and played competitive football all year long.
Year 1 Grade A. pic.twitter.com/uOTc4A3LCw
— Malcolm Hart (@MrHart__) December 29, 2021
That personality helped him weather the storms of a disappointing first season.
Unlike his predecessor, Matt Patricia, his players wanted to play for him even if they kept on losing.
It’s no surprise that he was the one Jared Goff hugged first when they finally got a victory this season.
That’s how badly they wanted to give a win to their beloved coach, and they came close in several instances before that Week 13 game.
Dan Campbell says he wasn't upset with the Seahawks' play calling at the end of the game, and would've been fine if they tried to punch it in at the end.
Says it's his job to stop it if he doesn't like it.
— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) January 3, 2022
They had five games with a losing deficit of four points or less.
If all those went in their favor, Detroit would have seven victories, including their 30-12 upset of the Arizona Cardinals.
Breaking the tie versus the Pittsburgh Steelers to their favor improves their win total to eight.
That could have been the highest win total the Lions experienced since Jim Caldwell was at the helm.
#Lions HC Dan Campbell starts his press conference after his first win recognizing all the Oxford High victims. Says he's dedicating the game ball to the Oxford community and then he reads off the names of all the shooting victims. pic.twitter.com/1ZQQO0hAAJ
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 5, 2021
Unfortunately, the team had to deal with several growing pains before taking bigger steps.
But instead of drifting away from the squad, Campbell stuck with his players through thick and thin.
What’s Next For The Lions?
Retaining Campbell must be the front office’s first plan of action in the offseason.
Yes, he only has two wins, but growing with the team will be the best decision in a while.
He fights for his players and develops relationships with them.
After which, the Lions top brass should consult with him about the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) October 11, 2021
Talent evaluation comes into play because they have good roster pieces like Penei Sewell, T.J. Hockenson, Jeff Okudah, Romeo Okwara, Frank Ragnow, Jamaal Williams, D’Andre Swift, and Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Campbell knows his players better, which helps the Lions address their glaring areas of concern.
But while he’s proven to be the right man for the job, the honeymoon period won’t last long.
He needs to produce better results by year two, or his tenure will be in jeopardy.
After all, coaches remain longer if they can deliver positive outcomes, even if they’re not the friendliest person on earth.