Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell has built a coaching staff that’s getting noticed around the league
Upon being hired as head coach of the Detroit Lions a little over a year ago, Dan Campbell assembled a coaching staff filled with former NFL players–as he is. Aaron Glenn, Duce Staley and Antwaan Randle El are familar names to fans of certain age from their playing days.
Despite the 3-13-1 record that the Lions logged in 2021, they were looked upon with respect by the rest of the NFL. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn got head coaching interviews with the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints. Most recently, the division rival Minnesota Vikings and the aforementioned Saints have interviewed defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant for their open defensive coordinator positions.
Lions coaches or front office personnel have rarely garnered interest from other teams. That seems to be changing, as Campbell has put together a coaching staff that got the most out of a poor team this past season.
One of Campbell’s moves in shaping his coaching staff was to keep Ben Johnson, who he had worked with in Miami, from Matt Patricia’s staff. When Campbell lost faith in Anthony Lynn and took over play-calling duties, it was Johnson who worked heavily with Campbell to implement new wrinkles and improve the offense.
Dan Campbell has built a Lions staff other teams are noticing
Johnson, previously the tight ends coach, has been named the Lions’ new offensive coordinator. At the Super Bowl this week, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor spoke glowingly of Johnson.
"I’ve tried to hire Ben many, many, many times,” Taylor revealed during a Super Bowl media session on Wednesday. “He always just gets promoted to where I can’t get him. (Lions coach) Dan (Campbell) knows that. I’ve always just tried to find a place for him on staff, whether it’s offense, defense, special (teams), it doesn’t matter. He’s one of those guys you want on your staff because he’s a brilliant."
Campbell is well-known and liked around the league. He was able to draw many gifted coaches to fill his staff, and the rest of the league is noticing. He will have to prove he can continue to procure a talented coaching staff though. Sooner or later he will lose assistants like Glenn, Staley or Pleasant to other teams, and they’ll have to be replaced.
When Campbell was hired, leadership was cited as a great strength. He has proven to be able to find the right people to work under him, or pivot when somethng isn’t working like he did when Anthony Lynn was not working out as the offensive play caller this past season.
Campbell comes off as raw and a little unpolished, but he’s showing he could be a master builder as he shapes a new Lions’ culture.