The Detroit Lions have not had a breakout season under Dan Campbell, but it could have been way worse if they’d hired Urban Meyer.
The Detroit Lions are building from the ground up. Principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp hired general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell to guide this franchise out of the dysfunction left behind by Matt Patricia, and to eventual championship heights.
So far, no one anywhere would mistake the Lions for contenders. Campbell, who arrived in Detroit making his infamous speech about biting knee caps and seeming to be a mixture of the Marlboro man and “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski, endeared himself to the fans as a straight-shooting personality.
Lions fans weren’t sure if this was going to work. But most of them want it to, because of Campbell’s persona as compared to the cone of secrecy provided by the previous regime.
Yet as the Lions now sit at 1-11-1, and having witnessed the swing between Campbell being very aggressive early in the season to taking over the offensive play-calling and becoming conservative, there are still legitimate concerns about how this will all work out.
The Lions could have had it much worse this season
But no matter how we choose to process what has happened this season, it could have been worse. Much worse.
This past week, rather than wait until the end of the season, the Jacksonville Jaguars sent head coach Urban Meyer packing. His shenanigans finally became too much, and owner Shad Khan’s hand was forced. Ironically for the second season in a row, Darrell Bevell will get an opportunity to impress his boss as the interim head coach. Last season it was in Detroit, and now it’s in Jacksonville.
The Lions might be bad, but Meyer in Jacksonville was an all-around disaster. From the hiring and firing of Chris Doyle to the video of he and a young woman (who happend to not be be his wife), to literally booting kicker Josh Lambo, it has been one long fiasco.
That doesn’t even take into account his constant spin-doctoring, where he frequently blamed coaches and players for his own mistakes. The Jaguars are short on talent too, like the Lions, but they do have a top young quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. They also had a locker room that was dysfunctional purely due to Meyer’s presence and his mode of operation.
While Meyer was a buzzy hire, the Lions went the other way to the decidedly not-buzzy Campbell.
Campbell was easy for some to regard as the worst NFL head coaching hire nearly a year ago. He may not be an X’s and O’s genius, but he’s a leader and the players have followed and given everything they have.
The Lions need a lot more talent, and Campbell needs to become more consistent in how he guides this team on the field. But the players buy into him, and that in itself opens the door to the possibility of a better tomorrow.
Could this season have been worse? Just compare what happened in Jacksonville to the situation here in Detroit, and the answer becomes quite clear.