Dan Campbell says Lions’ players matter more than the system

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Dan Campbell is a rarity in that he’s becoming a head coach without ever having been a coordinator. Which has some asking what kind of system Campbell will run in Detroit.

Campbell says the answer is that it’s not about the system. It’s about the players.

I’m not a system guy,” Campbell said, via the Detroit News. “I’ve been through all of them, I’ve seen all of them, so I’m not caught up on that. I’m going to find the best coordinators that are going to come in, and he’s going to have a vision of how he wants to run it with mine.”

Campbell spent the last five years on Sean Payton’s staff with the Saints but said that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll run an offense that looks like Payton’s.

“There’s concepts that I know work, that we did well [in New Orleans], that I’m going to implement and want to implement. But other than that, let’s put our guys in the best position to have success. That’s what I’m about,” Campbell said.

Campbell has not yet hired his offensive coordinator, but he appears to be looking for a personnel fit, not a scheme fit.

35 responses to “Dan Campbell says Lions’ players matter more than the system

  1. Love young coaches like this that aren’t locked into my way or the highway in regards to systems. Hope the Lions are finally relevant again!

  2. Impressed so far with this hiring. Mike McCarthy became so ‘system-focused’ in the last few years of his tenure with Green Bay that our offense sputtered unnecessarily and increased the degree of difficulty because it wasn’t putting players in the best position to succeed. Sounds like Dan is a realist and plans on setting his sails to the direction the wind is blowing, and not try to control the wind.

  3. Good luck Detroit – since players change all the time, it is usually helpful to have a vision of what you want to run and why.

  4. I was initially optimistic by this hire, but the more I hear from Campbell, the less I like him…bite those kneecaps!!!

  5. With the disaster that was Matt Patricia’s defense this team should move back to the 4-3 to better fit the personnel plus it’s what Aaron Glenn the DC learned in New Orleans. Offensively they should run a ball control West Coast offense that emphasizes the TE (Hockenson), a la Vegas and KC.

  6. What could go wrong?
    I don’t wish Lions fans any ill will, but this doesn’t sound promising. Hope I’m wrong.

  7. Already rumors bubbling that Deshawn Watson would agree to a trade to Detroit. Sounds crazy but apparently a lot of players want to play for this guy. That’s going to upset a lot of fan bases who are used to trashing the Lions when they’re favorite player leaves to play for Dan Campbell,

  8. Sorry, but that’s nonsense.

    Players get hurt. Often. If you have a “system”, you can plug in the “next man up” straight into the game and everyone’s still on the same page.

  9. He’s saying all the right things so far. For Lions’ fans sake I hope he can deliver. They’ve suffered long enough.

  10. Loving this hire! Let’s gooooooo!!! If you can’t relate to the things he is saying you have never strapped on a helmet.

  11. Really, Really, Really like this guy.

    So many HC’s get locked in and fail because they don’t design to meet good talent in place. Then they flounder for years. What a waste of time.

    Good on you Dan. Now… let’s get with the proof.

  12. The beauty of this is nobody knows if it will work or not. The Lions have struck out going the “hot” coordinator(Patricia, Schwartz) way before. They struck going the system route before(Tampa 2…Marinelli, patriot way…Patricia), and getting guys that fit the system.

    Maybe the Lions are blazing a new trail here?

  13. Asking a former tight end coach about systems and expect to get an answer?


    Yeah, like you know anything about NFL coaching TE’s. One of the most complex positions in today’s NFL.

  14. The last time the Lions had a HC that cared about his players was Jim Caldwell.

    Players loved him, he had 4 seasons, 3 winning seasons and 2 playoff appearances, until he was stupidly let go by Bob Quinn.

    There is defiantly something to being being a players coach, I sincerely hope it works for Dan, the Lions, their fans and the city of Detroit deserve some success through their football team.

  15. The idea that you have to be a coordinator first to be a head coach is flawed. Being a great coordinator doesn’t mean you’re a great head coach. We see it all the time.

  16. Develop a system that uses the talent you have and overcomes your weak places, that could work

  17. “I’m not a system guy. I’ve been through all of them, I’ve seen all of them…”

    Uh, ok. Maybe if Shula, Parcells, or Belichick said something like that I’d buy it. But not this guy. He kind of sounds in over his head.

    Maybe it’s just shtick for the media, who knows. I know a lot of PFT commenters love stuff like this, but having a thoughtful plan impresses me more than rah-rah.

  18. Personnel quality, locker room spirit and culture together all make different systems work, so those areas are the initial focus and team ethic. After that each player must know their expected role within the team’s chosen system and game plan like clockwork.

  19. In a league full of talent, having the best scheme, structure, and system seems to be the blueprint for success. That’s the type of framework that eventually creates a long term winning culture.

    Campbell’s “It’s about the players” philosophy seems to be 180 degrees opposed to Brian Flores’s “It Takes No Talent” doctrine. I guess time will tell what the best approach was.

  20. It’s amazing that the other 31 NFL teams didn’t know that all you have to do to win championships is just try really hard. Campbell shouldn’t have ever given this secrect away at his press conference – now the other teams are going to start trying too.

  21. This guy is a breath of fresh air. So wise for a young coach. Did the Patriots change their system this year? I just wondered because they haven’t missed the playoffs in years. Did Tampa Bay get a new system this year or a new QB, because they hadn’t been to the playoffs in decades. Good players can thrive in any system. Yes, there are some really good coaches and some really bad coaches, but overall, the teams with the best QB’s and the best players win. The coaches with the best QB’s always appear to be a lot smarter, but that’s just an illusion. Andy Reid went from the most second guessed coach to a genius as soon as Mahomes stepped out on the field. Chris Spielman is running the show in Detroit. It’s not like a coach interviewing with an owner who doesn’t have any idea what leads to success on the field. This is a very good sign for Detroit fans. Everyone has to answer to Spielman, and he wasn’t born yesterday. Seriously, did Bill Belichick just change everything this year? Different scheme? Different staff? No. Everything was exactly the same except his HOF QB left. Did Tampa Bay make a lot of staff and scheme changes this year? Nope. Brady came to town. Are the four teams left in the super bowl hunt not being quarterbacked by the four best QB’s in the NFL? Pretty darn close. If this isn’t the most obvious thing in the world, I have a bridge I’d love to sell you. In fact, forget the bridge, just give me your wallet.

  22. Well the Lions are still losers. The system is what matters. Unless you have a talent like Mahomes, Marino, P.Manning, or a handful of other players system is everything.

  23. “without ever having been a coordinator?! this hiring makes a mockery of the process!!!”

    seems to work for Vrabel.

  24. Well there’s Dan’s first mistake, valuing individuals over a team, did anyone ever clue Dan in that this “IS” a team sport!

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