Whatever your angle on Dan Campbell's fourth down decisions in the Detroit Lions' NFC Championship Game loss to the San Francisco 49ers, it has roots in not trusting kicker Michael Badgley from a certain distance. The process was not wrong, and did not impact win probability metrics to have failed on those fourth downs.
Campbell is well-known for going for it on fourth down, and did not change his mode in a big game. It's easy to criticize the result when players drop passes and generally don't execute in those spots.
Then of course there are Badgley's distance limitations, and his track record outdoors from longer distance. A field goal was no guarantee to be made in either situation.
The Lions' failure to even try to upgrade over Badgley last offseason is a separate, bigger picture conversation that wasn't a "thing" until it was something that helped drive strategic decisions in a big game.
All offseason, some people advocated for someone like Robbie Gould to replace Badgley as the Lions' kicker.
Robbie Gould says Dan Campbell should have kicked field goals in the NFC Championship Game
Gould, who announced his retirement in December, appeared on FanSided's Stacking The Box Tuesday from Las Vegas, site of Super Bowl LVIII.
Gould was asked about the mindset of a kicker when the coach has a strong tendency to go for it on fourth down, like Campbell does. He offered some context for situations that would drive going for it on fourth down rather than kick a field goal, then offered his opinion on the Lions in the NFC title game.
"To me, Dan Campbell should have kicked both of those field goals. Even if you miss 'em, there's a little bit of a different vibe when a kicker misses it versus the offense not making it, right? So, I think, you know, had they kicked one of the two, Detroit probably is sitting here enjoying Super Bowl week, instead of doing what I'm doing with you guys and enjoying it from the couch."
Gould is on to something by saying the vibe is different when a kicker misses a field goal versus when a fourth down attempt is failed. Especially when someone drops a catchable pass, like Josh Reynolds did on one against the 49ers.
Gould also seems to be forgetting that Badgley is simply a mediocre kicker. Maybe if Gould himself was in Badgley's place, Campbell's decisions are different and the Lions do end up in the Super Bowl by kicking and making two fairly long field goals. But it's all hindsight at this point.
Robbie Gould made an appearance with FanSided on behalf of DiGiorno.