Dan Campbell: It’ll be tough to pick an offensive play-caller until the season’s almost here

USA TODAY Sports

Up in New England, there’s a lot of mystery about who will eventually be the team’s offensive play-caller in 2022. Head coach Bill Belichick has talked about how he doesn’t put much stock into titles and recently scoffed at the notion that a team needs a play-caller during the offseason program.

In Detroit, it’s also unclear who’s going to call the offensive plays this season. But Lions head coach Dan Campbell has been a lot more transparent about his process.

Campbell took over the play-calling duties from former offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn midseason in 2021 and Detroit experienced some moderate success. The club promoted Ben Johnson to OC during the offseason and Campbell seems pleased at what Johnson has done to streamline the scheme.

But at this point, Campbell isn’t sure whether he or Johnson will make the gameday calls.

“To be honest with you, I think it’ll be hard to make that decision until the season’s almost here. And I’m just going to let it go as it goes,” Campbell said in his Thursday press conference. “I want to be able to coach the team right now and let him handle the offense — that way I can keep an eye on our players and what we’re doing on offense, defense, and special teams. And so, that’s what I’m trying to focus on right now and we’ll just kind of take it as it comes.”

Campbell joked that if Detroit puts up 85 points in the first preseason game against Atlanta, then he’d name Johnson the offensive play-caller on the spot. But the head coach added that he’s not too worried about making a firm decision during the offseason program.

“I just want to take it as it comes and see how he goes with it. And see how he handles running the offense, doing what I need to have done on my end and kind of my viewpoint, and see how the quarterbacks are — and just everything. And go from there,” Campbell said. “I think you guys know this, I’m a gut guy, so I’m going to trust my gut to make that decision when the time’s right.”

The Lions finished last season 22nd in total yards and 25th in points scored. But quarterback Jared Goff’s numbers improved once Campbell took over play-calling, as he completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,250 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions in six starts after the team’s bye week.

3 responses to “Dan Campbell: It’ll be tough to pick an offensive play-caller until the season’s almost here

  1. In year two, he needs to find a balance between his gut, analytics and the situation. Too often last season – going with his gut lead to some head scratching 4th down decisions, where he’d go for it some weeks but wouldn’t during others. The most infamous being during the Minnesota game in which they eventually won, but he went for it on 4th down on his own 28 with the lead with under 2 minutes to go in the game. They didn’t get it of course and Minnesota took the lead.

    That was the tip of an incredibly bizarre yearlong iceberg that hopefully he gets a better grip on this year.

  2. I would love to see the Lions put up 85 points against the Falcons in the first preseason game.

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