When the going gets tough, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell has shown he's willing to make the tough decisions to get his football team going again.
It's one of the things Lions general manager Brad Holmes respects the most about Campbell.
"I think Dan – he's special, he's elite," Holmes said this week. "I will say what Dan can do, and I don't know if all coaches have, he has an elite ability to pull a team out of a dark place, and whether it's from a record standpoint, whether it's something from he has to make a tough decision on the staff. Like, it's proven. Proof's in the puddling."
Last year, when it was clear quarterback Jared Goff and then offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn weren't on the same page, Campbell made the tough decision to relieve Lynn of his play calling duties, take on calling plays himself and elevate then tight ends coach Ben Johnson to a pass-game coordinator role.
That decision woke up a struggling Lions' offense and put in motion Johnson being elevated to offensive coordinator this season. Johnson is now a head-coach candidate in this year's hiring cycle.
"He had to make a tough decision on the staff last year, a decision I know he didn't want but he had to, and he knew he had to," Holmes said.
View the best photos of the 2022 season as chosen by Detroit Lions team photographer Jeff Nguyen.
This year, after a loss to Miami in which Detroit gave up 382 passing yards and three touchdowns to Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Campbell said in his postgame press conference that Miami didn't do anything they weren't expecting. The loss dropped Detroit to 1-6 on the year and they ranked last in yards allowed per game (421.3) and were surrendering over 265 yards per contest through the air. Campbell again made a tough decision to relieve defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant of his duties.
"He's going to do what it takes for the team," Holmes said. "He had to do it again this year, it was at 1-6, and he just has a rare, elite ability to pull a team out and right the ship. And when you have that, I think that's just – it's God given, and you just either have it or don't, and he has that, and that's one of the many qualities that I think makes him an elite coach."
Holmes and Campbell have built a foundation and a culture they hope will usher in steadier times moving forward. But when the going gets tough, Campbell has shown he won't sit idly by. He's shown over the last two years he's got the wherewithal and know-how to admit mistakes and pull the right strings to get his team out of it.