Saints' Dan Campbell Reportedly Expected to Be Hired as Lions Head Coach

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2021

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2019, file photo, a Detroit Lions helmet sits on the field prior to an NFL football game between the Lions and Washington Redskins in Landover, Md. No piece of protective equipment has undergone as much transformation over the past decade as the helmet. Through a combination of technological advancements, investment by the NFL and an open marketplace for development, helmets are rapidly evolving _ with more innovation on the horizon. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally, File)
Mark Tenally/Associated Press

The Detroit Lions are expected to hire Dan Campbell as their next head coach, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.  

"The two sides still need to work out a deal, but it is not considered an obstacle, and Campbell is the head coach the Lions plan to hire, sources told Schefter," the report from ESPN's Michael Rothstein read.

Campbell has spent the past five seasons as the assistant head coach and tight ends coach for the New Orleans Saints. The organization has been one of the most consistent in the NFL over this stretch, winning at least 11 regular-season games in each of the last four years.

Rothstein provided more context on how he climbed to the top of Detroit's list:

"The 44-year-old Campbell, who has never been a coordinator in the NFL, is viewed as a motivator and someone who can bring a team together instead of an X's-and-O's guru. The Lions had been searching for people they considered unifiers throughout their search as they identified qualities they deemed important to building a winner out of a franchise that has one playoff win in the Super Bowl era and claimed its last division title in 1993."

Campbell also spent 10 years in the NFL as a player with three different organizations, including his last three with Detroit from 2006-08.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Though he has limited experience as a head coach, he did lead the Miami Dolphins to a 5-7 record as an interim coach in 2015.

Campbell would take over a franchise that has been seeking stability at head coach for many years.

Matt Patricia was fired in the middle of his third season in 2020, going 13-29-1 after he was hired in 2018. No coach has lasted more than five years with the Lions since Wayne Fontes, who last coached in 1996. He was also the last coach to win a playoff game with the franchise, in 1991.

Detroit has seen little but disappointment since then, including just three playoff appearances since 2000.

The team hasn't made the playoffs in four years and enters 2021 with three straight losing seasons.

It will be a long road to recovery after last season's struggles, finishing 5-11 with the worst defense in the NFL in both points and yards allowed.

There are still reasons to be excited about the future with a quarterback in place in Matthew Stafford if the new administration chooses to keep him. Quality young playmakers like D'Andre Swift, Kenny Golladay and T.J. Hockenson could lead to plenty of fireworks offensively.

Despite the defensive struggles, there are still quality building blocks in Jeffrey Okudah, Jamie Collins Sr., Tracy Walker and more.

Campbell, if the deal is completed, will now be tasked with getting the most out of this team while putting the Lions back on track toward playoff contention.