Now that the New Orleans Saints have been eliminated from the NFL postseason, the Detroit Lions are expected to hire Saints assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell as their next head coach, sources told 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.
Campbell would replace Matt Patricia, who was fired in November after less than three seasons with the franchise and a 13-29-1 record, as the club tries to reset from finishing last in the NFC North the past three years.
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 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.
“I think leadership and somebody that can work with the general manager,” team president Rod Wood said earlier this month. “And somebody that has had experience either as a head coach or you can project that experience as a coordinator into being a head coach, and really diving into those types of questions.
“Not that we didn’t do that in the search for Matt, but I think trying to do it differently, hopefully we’ll find the right people.”
Campbell doesn’t have much experience as a head coach — just 12 games as an interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins — but the Lions clearly saw enough to pair him with recently hired general manager Brad Holmes. Without experience calling plays on either side of the ball, whom Campbell brings in as coordinators will be paramount to his success.
After staffing, among the first decisions he and Holmes are going to have to make is on the futures of star wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who is slated to be a free agent in March, and quarterback Matthew Stafford, whose contract goes through the 2022 season. Campbell also might have to make a decision on one former teammate, long-snapper Don Muhlbach, who before Campbell’s hire had been the team’s last connection to the winless 2008 club and is Detroit’s second-longest-tenured player in team history, behind kicker Jason Hanson.
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