Dan Campbell should not keep calling offensive plays for the Lions next season

Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Lions offense has looked better with him calling plays, but Dan Campbell should not keep the role next season.

Coming out of the Detroit Lions’ Week 9 bye, Dan Campbell went all the way on his promise to be more involved with the offense by taking over play calling. That made offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn a lame duck, and the Lions will have a new coordinator next season.

Lynn has become the de facto run game coordinator, while tight ends coach Ben Johnson has taken on greater involvement in the passing game scheme. In eight games with Campbell calling the plays, the Lions have scored 29 or more points three times and averaged 19.3 points per game. In eight games with Lynn calling the plays, they scored more than 25 points once and averaged 16.8 points per game.

Will Dan Campbell give up play calling next season?

Campbell talked about his learning curve as a play caller, amid talking about his overall growth as a head coach this season.

"And, it’s one thing to get (game management experience) as a head coach, but then just as a play-caller, I felt like I’ve gotten so much more comfortable with calling an offense, but also still managing the game,” he said. “That was an area I felt like four or five weeks ago that was a big learning curve. But, I felt like everything has started to begin to slow down now, as far as that goes.”"

On Wednesday, Campbell talked about being far more comfortable calling plays.

Going further, despite no public commitment one way or the other, Chris Burke of The Athletic picked up a vibe that Campbell will not give up calling plays next season.

Campbell may be more comfortable calling plays, and Jared Goff’s improvement before a bout with COVID and a knee injury is a point in the head coach’s corner. The Lions’ offense, which was already thin on talent, has continually been thinned by injuries too.

But Lynn dealt with those latter things during his time calling plays, and the Lions’ offense has averaged 2.5 more points per game with Campbell calling the plays–over an equal sample of games. Tim Boyle starting three games under center since Week 11 and D’Andre Swift missing four-plus games pushes the grading curve down. Still, there’s no denying the Lions’ offense has generally looked more competent in the second half of the season.

But a big part of being a head coach is knowing what you don’t know, or what you should or shouldn’t take on in the short or long-term.

Something had to change for the Lions’ offense this season. Campbell becoming the game day play caller was the easiest solution, and the results have been better. But looking to next season, Campbell should hire an offensive coordinator he’ll trust to take the play calling off his plate.

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