A Closer Look: Dan Campbell
Current job: Assistant head coach & tight ends coach for New Orleans Saints
NFL job log: After an 11-year NFL playing career, Campbell began coaching in 2010 as an intern in Miami. He was promoted to tight ends coach the following year in 2011 and held that title for the Dolphins through 2015. Campbell was named the interim head coach in 2015 in Miami after Joe Philbin was fired Oct. 5. Campbell led the Dolphins to a 5-7 record as interim head coach. He's been the assistant head coach and tight ends coach in New Orleans since 2016.
Specialty: He's spent a lot of years playing and coaching under Saints head coach Sean Payton, one of the best offensive minds in the game. Campbell is Payton's right-hand man on the staff as assistant head coach. Campbell has done a really good job over the years getting the best out of young tight ends under his direction.
Career highlights: Campbell played in 134 games as a player with 91 receptions for 934 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was a member of the Saints' 2009 team that won the Super Bowl, though Campbell was on IR all year with a knee injury suffered in training camp. He was awarded the Ed Block Courage Award as a player in Dallas in 2005.
New Orleans tight ends played a big role in an offense that ranked first in the NFL with 426.0 total net yards per game and second in scoring with 29.3 points per game in Campbell's first season on the staff in 2016. Tight end Jared Cook was a Pro Bowler in 2019 with Campbell as his position coach.
Detroit connection: Campbell was signed by Detroit as a free agent in 2006. Mostly known as a blocking tight end, he posted career highs in receiving yards (308), average yards per reception (14.7 avg) and touchdowns (four) in his first season with the Lions. Campbell also spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons with Detroit, but he played just three games total in 2007-08 due to injuries.
Quote: "He's a fantastic leader. Obviously played a long time in this league. He's everything you want," Payton told ESPN.com of Campbell in 2018. "Extremely dedicated, hardworking. He's exactly how he was as a player. And I tried to hire him a number of times and finally had that opportunity. So, we're fortunate to have him."
Tim Twentyman's take: Campbell really seems to have garnered the respect of the players and coaches around him. He's someone who spent 11 seasons in the NFL as a player, so he brings that perspective to the coaching ranks. He's learned under one of the best in the business in Payton the last five seasons as an assistant head coach, and during multiple stops as a player. He's also got some head-coaching experience from that interim season in Miami.
He's considered a great teacher of the game and someone who's earned the respect of all the players on the team. Saints left tackle Terron Armstead was asked by ESPN about Campbell, and he said Campbell is the kind of coach you'd run through a brick wall for.
Mike O'Hara's take: Campbell's 10-year career as a tight end included three seasons with the Lions (2006-08), where he made an impression for his toughness. One of the better seasons of his career was 2006 – 21 catches, 14.7 yards per catch and four TDs while playing all 16 games. Injuries reduced him to two games in 2007 and one in 2008. He was on injured reserve with the Saints in 2009 and began his coaching career with the Dolphins in 2010. He went into coaching in 2011 with the Dolphins as tight ends coach.
In 2015 he was promoted to interim head coach after three games. In his first practice, he put the team through the one-on-one Oklahoma drill in full pads. The Dolphins went 5-7 under Campbell after starting the season 1-2. He was not retained after that year and has spent the last five seasons as tight ends coach and assistant head coach of the Saints – a team known for overall toughness.