Is Dan Campbell a clown? Lions will find out on the field

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell watches practice during organized team activities at Lions headquarters in Allen Park, Thursday, May 27, 2021.
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell watches practice during organized team activities at Lions headquarters in Allen Park, Thursday, May 27, 2021. /
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Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions (Photo by DetroitFreePress Syndication)
Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions (Photo by DetroitFreePress Syndication) /

Dan Campbell won’t fail due to being himself

Recently Joy Taylor, co-host of ‘The Herd’ with Colin Cowherd, tweeted out a picture of Dan Campbell with the caption, ‘I want better for you Lions fans. That’s all’. This offended many fans of the Honolulu Blue and Silver as they took to social media to express their own opinions on the matter.

In an interview earlier this week with John Maakaron of Sports Illustrated All Lions, Taylor told the Motor City faithful about her own connection to the city and how she interprets what Campbell has said and done so far.

However, one particular comment from Taylor about Campbell’s time in Miami as their interim head coach, when she was covering the team caught my attention …

"“It had a little bit of success there, but not obviously what was going to translate into long-term success for the Dolphins. As we know, his time there wasn’t very long. So, it wasn’t that he was like a bad guy or necessarily a bad coach. It’s just that type of stuff has a lifetime to it — that running through the wall and grit and grind and all of that stuff. Eventually, you have to translate to do you have the talents, are you developing the talents? And is all of this ‘rah rah’ stuff actually translating to wins? Which, obviously, it didn’t.”"

That quote was something I would expect from someone who was a national pundit who wasn’t following the Dolphins. Somehow or another the fact that the Dolphins were an average at best team with a toxic locker room and a 1-3 record when head coach Joe Philbin was fired has escaped her.

When Campbell was named the interim head coach, he unified the locker room, worked his players hard, and without the aid of having his own hand-picked staff guided the Dolphins to a 5-7 record the rest of the way.

What happened next is that the Dolphins fired Dennis Hickey their general manager and promoted their director of college scouting Chris Grier to replace him. Then Grier decided to hire Adam Gase as the new head coach of the Dolphins.

In three years with the Dolphins Adam Gase went 23-25 with a winning percentage of .479 as opposed to Campbell’s .417 winning percentage in his less than one season at the helm. The difference is that Gase chose his own staff and had some say in player personnel decisions.

Now the jury is out on whether Campbell, given the opportunity to surround himself with his own staff and have some say in player acquisitions would have done better, but the Dolphin players gave their all for Campbell and one would assume with a more talented roster the results might have been more positive.

Today Campbell has a staff that even the national media has had to admit is impressive and the experience of working with Sean Payton in New Orleans which Campbell has admitted has been a big influence on how prepared he thinks he is to help guide Detroit to contention.

Combined with the talents of young general manager Brad Holmes who believes in him. Could this all eventually translate into wins? Only time will tell.

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However, cleansing a locker room and creating unity is the definition of a culture change. There has already been a tremendous change in the Lions’ culture. Given some time and enough talent to win, Campbell may do just make Detroit winners. But if he fails it won’t have anything to do with being himself, because no coach can win without being true to themselves.