AQB Two-Minute Read: Is Dan Campbell Stupid?
The Lions lost the NFC Championship game to the 49ers last week and, if you listen to the pundits, Detroit head coach Dan Campbell is an idiot.
Truth is that Campbell was the biggest reason Detroit was within sniffing distance of the Super Bowl. His “trust your gut” leadership style was what his young team needed to produce its best season in 32 years.
During the regular season, the Lions converted fourth-down tries more than 50% of the time and were second in the league with an average of 1.2 successful attempts per game. And San Francisco allowed opponents to convert nearly half the time. So, going for it strikes me as a good gamble, especially when the Lions needed to gain just two and three yards, respectively, on the much-discussed fourth-down tries.
Of course, kicking a field goal on the fourth-quarter fourth down would’ve been an acceptable decision, especially with 7:32 left in the game and Detroit trailing 27-24. However, I liked the call at the time. Extend the drive, take the lead and make San Fran play from behind again.
The other decision - to attempt a fourth-down try with 6:58 remaining in the third quarter - is almost impossible to reasonably criticize. The Lions were moving the ball up and down the field at will and had the chance to stretch their 14-point lead to 21. Go for the jugular, like a famished FATBACK HOBBS at a Chinese buffet.
Look at it this way: if Josh Reynolds catches the slightly off-target Jared Goff pass on fourth-and-two, Detroit’s head coach is hailed as a gutsy hero as the Lions score yet another TD. Football can be a cruel game.
Going for the fourth downs was another example of Campbell trusting his players, a major reason for the team’s best season in three decades. Succeeding in football, like convincing THE FAIR CLAUDINE to walk down the aisle, depends upon confidence and, by frequently giving his team the green light, Campbell showed them he believed in them. And they responded all season long.
So, to answer the question, “No, Dan Campbell isn’t stupid. I’d say he’s anything but.”
More to come soon. Enjoy your weekend.