I found it to be an odd decision to begin with, but Campbell only reinforced that opinion Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Things started well for the Detroit Lions on the offensive side of things. The offense was clearly taking on the identity of their head coach. During his playing days, Campbell was primarily a blocking tight end and seemingly loves to pound the rock; that’s precisely what Detroit did in the first half of Sunday’s contest.
D’Andre Swift amassed 130 yards on 33 carries. The massive workload was certainly enhanced since Jamaal Williams remained sidelined with an injury. The Lions also got unexpected rushing touchdowns from Godwin Igwebuike and Jermar Jefferson.
Campbell continued to call running play after running play, often behind Matt Nelson, an extra lineman, and T.J. Hockenson lined up in-line. For two quarters, the Lions dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, but it seemed the Steelers made halftime adjustments, and Detroit’s inexperienced play-caller continued to do what worked in the first half but didn’t in the second half.
Throughout the second half of the game, it seemed more times than not the Steelers were stacking the box and penetrating into the Lions’ backfield as Goff looked to hand the football off.
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell needs to hand back over the play-calling to Anthony Lynn and manage the game.
Campbell has no experience as a play-caller, and it showed Sunday. I’m shocked Campbell would try and light a fire under the Lions’ offense by taking over the duties he’s never had success doing as an assistant coach throughout his career.
It’s not just the fact that Campbell took over the play-calling duties; it’s the fact that he took them from an experienced offensive coordinator with a tremendous track record. Anthony Lynn isn’t just a successful play-caller but also has extensive experience as an NFL head coach.
Campbell should be smart enough to look at his roster and understand that it doesn’t matter who calls the plays; it matters who is playing quarterback and who he has at his disposal.
Jared Goff has been atrocious this season with the Detroit Lions, and it only amplifies how good of a coach Sean McVay is, knowing he managed to get to a Super Bowl with Goff guiding the offense.
Detroit’s head coach mentioned he wanted to shake things up and felt having a direct line to Goff as a play-caller would help both get into the flow of the game better. Of course, Lynn still created the game plan, but it’s clear by the play selection that Campbell maintained complete control as the game wore on.
According to Next Gen Stats, Jared Goff averaged less than two air yards per completion Sunday against the Steelers. Goff totaled just 114 yards on 14 completions.
Goff was clearly injured, yet Campbell elected to stay with him rather than go to David Blough. Following the game, Campbell claimed that he felt Goff gave Detroit the best opportunity to win the game, despite everyone on the planet understanding his injury is preventing him from passing the football down the field.
In the second half, as the Steelers crammed the line of scrimmage, Detroit needed to push the football down the field in hopes of loosening up the defense. Instead, Campbell continued to call running play after running play on 3rd and long situations.
Moving forward, Lynn needs to be left alone to do his job, and Campbell needs to make better in-game decisions like removing a backup caliber quarterback he’s forced to start when he’s injured for someone healthy.
The bigger question is, what is the relationship like between Campbell and Lynn now? Lynn may prefer to move on, and good luck finding someone with a similar resume to take over as the offensive coordinator after looking at this roster and quarterback play.