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2021 New NFL Head Coach Hire Fantasy Impact Study: Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions

April 10, 2021 9:57 AM
April 10, 2021 9:55 AM

2021 New NFL Head Coach Hire Fantasy Impact Study: Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions


Well, it’s been a few months…and you still remember that press conference – amiright?

Actually, you don’t remember the press conference totally – just the part where Campbell goes off the rails and starts talking about biting off kneecaps. And if you didn’t see it, God Bless you…here you go with a 2-minute clip of the kneecap consumption: https://youtu.be/NWxzMSwzE-I

I’ve listened to this 2-minute section 4-5-6x in preparation for this – and the first time I heard it, way back when it happened, I thought it was funny…then the second time I heard it struck me as really odd. The 3-4-5-6x listen it’s a psychopath that should be suspended by the league, if we apply the Gregg Williams standard. At least Williams was paying players to hurt the opponents, Dan Campbell just came out on live television saying this type of horror movie brutality would be the team’s modus operandi.

Listen to it again…really listen to it – it’s a psychopath at work, one who cannot contain his own deranged thoughts from turning into audible words.

You probably think it’s funny…or it’s bizarre…or it’s refreshingly honest – but football people at large will remember it and think Detroit just might have a winner on its hands.


Because who even remembers these head coach intro press conferences? But, now, we have one for the ages and it seems like some real passion, which might mean some real hope for winning…no?

Here’s a take you probably have not seen/read on this…

The Dan Campbell press conference was 65 minutes long…one of the longest head coaching intro press conferences I’ve ever had to watch. That clip above…the 2-minute ‘biting a kneecap’ bit was funny. Campbell’s first five minutes was earnest and passionate and then turned unnecessarily aggressive with the kneecap chomping stuff. Campbell should’ve pulled a ‘Costanza’ and left after five minutes on a high note…because the entertaining/shocking first five minutes was followed by one hour of total bull shit/diarrhea of the mouth, cliché ridden nonsense you’ll ever want to hear.

Campbell had nothing to say except a bunch of hollow promises about biting kneecaps, working hard, and being in sync with the new GM, and how Detroit is a fighting spirit town – and he repeated those four topics in pretty much every answer to every question posed by the press corp.

I mean, I don’t expect Campbell to lay out intricate plans or opine with wonder and awe – but I did expect him to control the press conference, but he didn’t. He would’ve stayed there and answered questions for another 48 hours if they let him – and yet not really answering any questions, but more repeating the same cliches over and over and over. He gave answers on both sides/all sides of every issue – so anyone could’ve heard what they wanted to hear. He gave every possible answer to every question (we want to be a tough team, but we will play finesse if we want…I’m not tied to any style and I am open to what the roster dictates, but make no mistake I am in charge, but I am so happy to be making joint decisions with Chris Spielman and the figurehead GM…I love for people to challenge me and tell me I am wrong. I am not hiring ‘yes, men or people just like me in thought’…but then hires just-like-him Anthony Lynn as his new O-C).

Urban Meyer’s press conference was boring…and short. He said nothing. He was gentile. He was cordial, and he wanted to get the hell out of there because he has better things to do, and he’s a smart assassin head coach/leader who doesn’t suffer fools – but Campbell’s intro presser was like a bad first date…he may not have come up from air from talking nonstop for 65 minutes as he sweat through his sport coat. Campbell is the type of meathead rube that an Urban Meyer type uses on his staff as his ‘muscle’ to order around to do his bidding, to keep the people in-line. Sonny Corleone was never Godfather material. Michael was. Campbell is somewhere between Sonny and Luca Brasi smart…with Urban Meyer/Michael Corleone planning the big picture for the family.

Campbell was so happy to be an NFL head coach at his press conference…he was like some joker who won a low-level Oscar and then got up and gave a rambling 30+ minute acceptance speech over the top of the ‘please leave’ music for the final 25 minutes of it. Yes, we know Detroit is a tough town…I guess. Every new coach of every sport comes into Detroit with an intro presser saying the same ‘We’re going to be the Bad Boys (Pistons) mentality…fighters like the people of Detroit!’ It’s not a fresh take.

I’m not sure anyone in Michigan is ‘proud’ of Detroit, but every new head coach and politician comes to Michigan yammering about Detroit’s fighting spirit. They have a fighting spirit alright – but not the way the population and law officials would like them to. I know one thing about Detroit – every time I’ve had to drive to Michigan for something, I make sure I don’t have to go anywhere near Detroit. Is that a basis for civic pride? My main thought about Detroit is – don’t go there. But if I was hired as GM of the Lions, I’d go jerk their chain too and tell them how great it was to be a part of the fighting spirit of Detroit.

But Dan Campbell actually thinks he is a gangsta, of sorts. It fits his profile. He’s a ‘meat head’…like, if you were casting for the stupid, overbearing football jock type guy in a movie – Dan Campbell is the central casting prototype. Chris Spielman (new ‘advisor’ to the owners) is also a ‘meat head’…and he runs the show in Detroit now. So, he helped hire a fellow ‘meat head’ to be his head coach. That’s what happened.

You might want ‘meat heads’ on your football team…you want them as a blocking tight end (Campbell in the NFL) and at middle linebacker (Spielman in the NFL) – but do you want them masterminding your billion-dollar business? Probably not. But the Lions have been so bad for so long…why not give it a try?

We all think the Dan Campbell press conference soundbite is funny, but imagine if you were a talented NFL player who could go to any number of teams as a free agent – would you willingly go play for Dan Campbell/Chris Spielman (who is already been reported to be in the locker room going over technique with the players…and spent entire games on CBS, as a color analysts, talking about pad levels for tackling)? Who is attracted to that kind of talk except 4.9+ 40-time running linebackers or sluggish blocking tight ends who love the game, but aren’t good enough to be in the league…except the Lions’ chief meatheads LOVE their grit and gives them a chance? Super talented, sophisticated players aren’t going to play for Dan Campbell. Tom Brady wouldn’t have chosen to go there; I can assure you.

Can you imagine your practice schedule under Dan Campbell? Can you imagine the nonsensical rules that will be laid out? Can you imagine the fiery speeches before/during/after the game? There’s only one thing Dan Campbell wants more than winning the current game he’s coaching – and that’s one last chance to get into uniform and go out and play one more game, one more series. Campbell is going to be more fired up about game day than any of the players…and when they do not match his enthusiasm, they will be demoted or sent away or be thought of as weak until they are ditched.

You don’t think it’s going to be a ‘meathead’ ex-player nightmare in Detroit? Who did they hire as the offensive coordinator? Another tough guy/’meathead’ ex-player…Anthony Lynn. Anthony Lynn was the tamer Dan Campbell, and you see what an abject disaster that was in Los Angeles. But I’m sure it will be fine in Detroit…with their fighting spirit and all.

Dan Campbell is going to fill his roster with a bunch of Dan Campbell’s/Chris Spielman’s/Anthony Lynn’s…see where that got Anthony Lynn in L.A.

The uber-tough guy routine might work for a bit, but then it will wear out fast. Free agents will want nothing to do with Detroit. They will draft a bunch of Dan Campbells…and then they will get beaten by more talented teams, with everyone’s kneecaps intact…because you have to be able to ‘catch them’ in order to bite their kneecaps off. In 2-4 years, it will end sadly (a la Anthony Lynn) and Campbell can go back to being a great positional coach. Also note, another drill sergeant new coach that flopped epically – remember the Steve Wilks/Arizona ONE season of coaching. He was going to change their culture through radical disciplining and tough talk too.

It will be fun for the Campbell era to work out in the fairy tale way…the gritty guys from Hickory, Indiana improbably ‘go all the way’ to the state basketball finals and beat the vastly more talented team because they were more disciplined…led by the ultra-tough, ultra-disciplined, ultra-orderly head coach Norman Dale. It did work in the movie Hoosiers (based on a real story), but there was not a follow up movie when Hickory won again and was a dominant force in Indiana basketball for a long time.

They may make a movie about Dan Campbell’s time as the Detroit Lions head coach, but it probably won’t be Hoosier-esque…more something where Will Ferrell stars as Dan Campbell (with John C. Reilly as Chris Spielman).

All I could think of while watching Dan Campbell’s press conference was this ‘worst of all-time’ intro press conference (edited to a 4-minute ‘highlight’…that is still unbelievable to me to this day): https://youtu.be/K1MQJ0JKIxQ



Dan Campbell’s Fantasy Impact:

If you listened to any one of the 65 minutes of press conference – you know this team is playing throwback football. Eventually, Campbell admitted it late in this presser…but quickly did what he did all interview – double-speak’d it back when he proudly let out his love and desire for the power run game. But anyone watching could tell his inner desire, his joy of power running over teams – all tough guy coaches want that.

If you had any doubt about Campbell’s intentions for his offense…you see that he hired Anthony LynnAnthony Lynn is to offense what Hue Jackson is to NFL head coach records and not being bitter towards the last team he was the head man for.

The passing game will make NO advancements here…so, Jared Goff is screwed. They will draft a bunch of ‘good blocker’ wide receivers – any WR they do draft is potentially dead-on-arrival, but with the hope that the team gets so far down in games that they have to throw a lot to play out the huge loss. All of the passing game things are screwed: Goff, Hockenson, and the WRs.

HOWEVER, the run game should be sweet for FF. D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams seem to be in a great spot to recreate some Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon LAC 2019 memories. Here’s the problem of going full bore D’Andre Swift…if Campbell desires the true power running game, then Swift is not really that guy – not in size (212 pounds) or style. Swift would be more Ekeler, and Williams as Gordon…except Williams is a better 3rd-down back due to his blocking, so will it be the reverse of that…a wrong/bad casting of them in roles?

Swift may rule for fantasy touches…or Swift may find problems meshing with Campbell/Lynn/Spielman unrealistic ‘meat head’ desires. Najee Harris (really, Derrick Henry) would be their dream guy…

Everything but the run game is dead with Campbell, as a desired plan.

The Lions defense will be middle of the road – thumped by athletic, up-tempo passing teams but the Lions will play a slow style of grinding it out football that will help aid the defense in not being ‘too bad’.

The offense will be sluggish and nonthreatening but could put up garbage numbers in deficits – like the 2019 (5-11) Chargers did as a top 10 rushing attempt team, but with poor output and thus wound up with a #6 passing yardage offense that season with Philip Rivers garbage-timing it. Whatever the results, the intention will be run-run-run-screen-run-run-screen on offense…which may be screen-screen-bomb-screen-screen in the 2nd-half of big deficits.  

In the end, a short end, this is all going to fail miserably – is my projection.


Dan Campbell’s real interview video: https://youtu.be/lZeJlUD68Hc

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

Learn more about RC and the Fantasy Football Metrics system >>