ALLEN PARK, Mich. – He was not the expected choice or the overwhelming choice of the paying public, either. But none of that will matter if Dan Campbell ends up doing what hasn’t been done consistently with the Detroit Lions in six decades.
Campbell, 44, is expected to be named the head coach of the Detroit Lions now that the New Orleans Saints are out of the playoffs, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. It would complete a search that took less than two months and flips one regime to the next.
Before that happens, the Lions likely will want to bring him in for a second interview, but barring something unforeseen, this seems to be the direction Detroit is going.
Gone are head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, with three straight last-place finishes in the NFC North. In are Brad Holmes, largely unknown two months ago as the Los Angeles Rams director of college scouting who impressed enough to land the Detroit general manager job, and Campbell, a former Lions player who spent the past five years learning under Sean Payton.
With these hires, something team president Rod Wood said when he spoke to the media two weeks ago continues to stand out.
Lions to hire Brad Holmes as GMpic.twitter.com/3nXwdqJ
— Detroit Lions (@LionsPR) Jan. 14, 2021
“There’s going to be no surprise I don’t think at the end [with] who we end up hiring on both sides,” Wood said Jan. 5. “What we’re looking for is people that can work together and be partners, and not one working for the other necessarily.”
It’s not clear how the power structure will work and how this expected marriage of Holmes and Campbell will go. No one will truly know for at least a year. Maybe longer.
But Detroit stuck to its principles when it looked for a general manager, hitting a lot of the criteria it checked. And it seems to have done that with its likely head coach.
More than anything, the Lions appeared to search for leadership. That is probably Campbell’s biggest strength. He doesn’t have a ton of coaching experience — 11 years — but Campbell played in the NFL for a decade, including three years with the Lions. He doesn’t have any coordinator experience, either, which some teams chose to focus on.
He did, though, hold a Miami team together as an interim head coach for 12 games during the 2015 season, going 5-7 in an adverse situation. He inherited a 1-3 team and a roster that had not been over-.500 for the last three seasons prior to his short head coaching stint.
In a 2016 interview with the Globe & Mail, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said he chose Campbell as interim head coach, in part, because “he’s a real motivator and I think that’s what you really need in running a football team.”
The Lions have clearly agreed. Everything Wood, special assistant Chris Spielman and owner Sheila Ford Hamp have said since firing Quinn and Patricia was about unity, inclusion, teamwork and working together.
Motivating people toward the same mission is one of the main jobs of any head coach — and they believe Campbell has the personality to do it.
Campbell also seems to grasp another thing the Lions were looking for — adaptability and flexibility. On “The LiucciCast,” a Texas A&M podcast, Campbell said he knows coaches have to adjust to today’s athletes — and he understands the need for it.
“You have to be willing to listen and I feel like there needs to be more of a working relationship with your athletes, certainly at the NFL level these are grown men that we’re dealing with,” Campbell said. “So I always approach it as we’re working together. Now rookies are a little different but once you’ve been trained a little bit, we are working together.
“Now, how do I make your job easier? That’s my job. How do I pull the most out of you? That’s my job as a coach. Your job is to use me as a resource, player, so what do you need from me? How can I help you?”
Campbell would come to Detroit with a certain level of understanding, too. He has been in NFL locker rooms — and specifically, he’s been in the Lions locker room as part of the team from 2006 to ’08. He’s seen how tough it is for the Lions to win and was part of the franchise’s 0-16 team.
So perhaps more than any other candidates, he understands the uniqueness of Detroit and the challenge it’ll be — and what it’ll mean if the team is able to turn around and win.
Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray donates 60,000 meals to North Texas Food Bank
Murray, who’s from the Dallas area, experienced the effects of the storm first-hand. His power went in and out and he didn’t have hot water, he told the Arizona Republic.
The 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year reached out to the food bank and asked how he could help those in need. Murray called helping those in need a “no brainer.”
“It means the world being able to give back,” Murray said. “It’s really bigger than anything that I could do. Obviously, sports is my thing, football is my thing, but I think I have a bigger purpose.”
The North Texas Food Bank “distributes donated and purchased foods through a network of more than 200 partner agencies in 13 counties,” according to its website.
The food bank’s services were in demand in the North Texas region as most of the state’s power grid and water systems failed, affecting millions of people throughout Texas.
“I don’t wish that on anybody,” Murray said. “It’s okay during the morning time, or when it’s sunny outside. But once it gets dark, and you don’t have any power, it’s just a dark feeling, man.
“It helped out [being] with my family. But even then, you’re just kind of stuck out in the cold, freezing temperatures and snowing outside, but can’t go anywhere. So it’s a tough situation.”
Los Angeles Rams’ Sean McVay reflects on good times with Jared Goff
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay wanted to reflect on the good times with Jared Goff on Thursday rather than expand on what went wrong with his soon-to-be former franchise quarterback who has been traded to the Detroit Lions.
“What I think is important to make sure that I at least want to mention is the amount of good things and really great leadership that he provided since I got here as a head coach,” McVay said, listing the three playoff appearances, two division titles, NFC championship and Super Bowl appearance that Goff led the Rams to over the past four seasons. “So what I’d rather focus on are the things that I think he did a great job of establishing himself in this league, the way he handled himself consistently day in and day out and all I can do is just be appreciative of that and that’s kind of what I would say on Jared.”
Last month the Rams traded Goff, as well as a 2021 third-round pick and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, to the Lions for quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The trade will become official at the start of the new league year on March 17 and until then NFL rules prohibit the Rams or Lions from speaking directly about the trade. But McVay acknowledged in his first videoconference with reporters since the deal that the potential of acquiring a veteran offensive player was “exciting.”
When asked what changed in his and the organization’s mind about Goff since he signed a four-year, $110 million guaranteed extension before the 2019 season, McVay said, “I don’t know that really a lot changed.
“I mean, there’s just so many things that have taken place since then,” McVay said. “I think what I would say that I learned over the last handful of years is things change by the day and you probably want to be careful making blanket statements when you can’t predict the future.”
Before Goff signed the record-breaking extension, McVay said that he hoped to be stuck with the quarterback for a long time.
However, in the days after the trade, Goff told the Los Angeles Times that “It became increasingly clear” that he was no longer wanted in L.A., but said that he could not figure out when that happened.
McVay said that he has since spoken to Goff and described their conversations as “healthy.”
“Jared and I had a lot of conversations,” McVay said. “We had one that I want to keep that between myself and Jared, but again, I don’t want to get into the specifics of those types of things … I think we were both able to communicate open and honestly with one another, but those details I’d prefer to keep between us.”
Now entering his fifth season as coach, McVay acknowledged that he could have been a better coach to Goff, who passed for 3,952 yards and 20 touchdowns with 13 interceptions in the Rams’ 10-6 2020 season that ended with a divisional playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.
“I think it’s just the consistent and ongoing communication,” McVay said. “You pride yourself in those types of things and I think I could have been much better about those real-time communications and, I’m not going to make any excuses about it, but there’s a lot of things, even some of the decision-making in games, are you consistently putting him in the right positions to be successful and so, as a coach, as a leader, your job is to try to make situations and people that you’re around better and there were certainly some moments that I know I could have done better really for our team and Jared in particular.”
Russell Wilson potential trade scenarios
The Russell Wilson saga continued to evolve Thursday, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that while the Seattle Seahawks‘ Pro Bowl quarterback hasn’t demanded a trade from the franchise where he has played all nine seasons of his career, his agent has a wish list in case that scenario comes to pass.
With the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders and New Orleans Saints as Wilson’s targets in a “in case of trade, break glass” situation, we asked our NFL Nation reporters from each of those teams to lay out their case for Wilson, and what it might take to bring in the star quarterback. Also, we look at what it might take for the Seahawks to part with the most decorated signal-caller in franchise history.
Why the Bears are attractive to Wilson: The Bears are desperate for a franchise quarterback, and Wilson would be viewed as a hero if he were to get them over the hump. Chicago is sick of seeing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers dominate the division. Someone who could unseat them would become an instant legend in a city that loves its sports stars.
What the Bears would have to give up: The Bears don’t have a quarterback the Seahawks would want in a swap of players, so it would have to be draft picks — high ones and a lot of them. The problem now is the Bears don’t have a high pick (they’re at No. 20) this year, so it would likely take multiple first-rounders.
How doable it is — and what comes next: GM Ryan Pace might need a job-saving quarterback acquisition considering he has struck out with Mike Glennon, Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles. So if the Bears are on Wilson’s list, then Pace owes it to the franchise to put together the best offer he can muster and hope the Seahawks change their mind and decide to deal him. — Rob Demovsky
Why the Cowboys are attractive to Wilson: There are obvious on- and off-the-field considerations. On the field: Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La’el Collins come to mind. The Cowboys have one of the most talented offenses in the league. They also play in a division that is a lot easier than the NFC West. Off the field, the Cowboys’ brand sells. While Wilson already is one of the better-known players in the NFL, his brand would multiply attached to the Cowboys’ star.
What the Cowboys would have to give up: Multiple first-round picks at the least. The Cowboys have the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft, which would help, but they would have to give up future first-rounders if not more picks and maybe some players just to land him. And if you’re asking about trading Dak Prescott, well, they can’t. He’s a free agent and even if they place the franchise tag on him for a second straight year, Prescott would have to sign the tender before any trade could be facilitated. He effectively could shut down any trade talk simply by saying no or making sure Seattle meets every financial demand he would have.
How doable it is for your team — and what comes next: Anything is doable, but the Cowboys are committed to Prescott. They have made him their priority and believe he is their quarterback for the present and future. If the Cowboys get frustrated in upcoming talks with Prescott’s agent regarding a long-term contract, perhaps they visit this option, but it seems remote at best. — Todd Archer
Why the Raiders are attractive to Wilson: Wilson’s skill set, with his willingness and ability to extend plays with his legs, is closer to what Jon Gruden wants to do on offense, which can be elite when not bogged down by a depleted defense which, by the way, just hired the architect of the Seahawks’ Legion Of Boom, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, to fix. So there’s familiarity for Wilson there, as well as with offensive line coach Tom Cable, who had the same role when the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII. Plus, imagine all the marketing opportunities for the Q Rating-conscious Wilson in the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. Perhaps Ciara can even get a residency on The Strip?
What the Raiders would have to give up: With visions of Ken Stabler for Dan Pastorini in 1980 dancing in Raider Nation’s head, how about a starter-for-starter swap — Wilson for Derek Carr? The Raiders would have to throw in another pick or player as well just to offset Wilson’s $32 million cap number for 2021. Carr has a cap number of $22.125 million, while Marcus Mariota has one of (drumroll, please) $11.35 million. Now, it’s hard to see Seattle taking both QBs for Wilson, but one or the other would have to be involved (Carr) and then Las Vegas would have to find a suitor for the other (Mariota).
How doable it is — and what comes next: Very. But is there an appetite to move on from a QB coming off his career-best statistical season? From the pure financial standpoint, shedding the cap numbers of Carr, who has $2.5 million in dead money, and Mariota, who has zero dead money, to get Wilson make it nearly a wash (the Raiders would still need more than $1 million to shed). Gruden and GM Mike Mayock have long said they will always kick tires on players to see how and if a certain player will improve the roster. Expect tire-kicking to commence, then, as Wilson, 32, has three years remaining on his contract but a lot of mileage on his legs, and Carr, who turns 30 next month and has two years left on his deal, is no doubt growing weary of the yearly offseason speculation. — Paul Gutierrez
Why the Saints are attractive: No team on Wilson’s wish list is more Super Bowl-ready than the Saints, who have the NFL’s best record over the past four seasons. New Orleans has one of the league’s most talented rosters from top to bottom — including superstar playmakers in Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara and a very good offensive line. As a bonus, Wilson would get the chance to succeed Drew Brees, whom he grew up idolizing as a fellow undersized QB. The one drawback is New Orleans’ salary-cap situation, which could make it difficult to keep this roster together long term.
What the Saints would have to give up: This seems like the biggest hurdle, since the Saints don’t pick until 28th in this year’s draft and likely wouldn’t pick much higher in future years with Wilson at QB. It’s hard to believe they could make the best offer unless Wilson gives Seattle no other choice. The Saints would likely be willing to give up a wealth of draft picks, perhaps three first-rounders. But they would probably have to include some elite talent, whether that be Thomas, Kamara, CB Marshon Lattimore or OTs Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead. That could also help New Orleans absorb Wilson’s cap hit.
How doable it is — and what comes next: It wouldn’t be easy, since the Saints have limited draft value to offer — and since they’re projected to be $65-70 million over this year’s salary cap. But they would be foolish not to consider it with Brees heading toward retirement. The Saints can find ways to push most of those cap costs into future years (including Wilson’s) just as they did throughout Brees’ tenure. They might have to trade or release a couple of core assets to make it work, but Wilson would be worth it. The Saints are built to win now with so many stars in their prime (and several others like DE Cameron Jordan, LB Demario Davis, DBs Malcolm Jenkins and Janoris Jenkins in their 30s). — Mike Triplett
What could the Seahawks be looking for in a Wilson trade? The Seahawks by no means feel as though they have to trade Wilson, especially since the situation has not escalated to the point where he has asked to be dealt. They believe that scheme changes under new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron will reduce the hits and sacks on Wilson, thus alleviating one of his major sources of frustration.
But one of the core organizational philosophies is that they’ll consider everything. At the right price, they’d have to consider trading Wilson. Logically, that price would include much more than the two first-round picks (and then some) they gave up last year for safety Jamal Adams. That offer would likely have to either (A) include a young quarterback the Seahawks believe they would win with right away or (B) put them in position to draft that quarterback. They would then supplement their roster around that inexpensive rookie contract the way they did when they won Super Bowl XLVIII and nearly repeated as champions the following year, which was before they gave Wilson his first megadeal. — Brady Henderson
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