Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell spoke to the media Monday one day after the Lions punched their ticket to the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday with a 31-23 win over Tampa Bay in the Divisional Round. It was a win Campbell referred to as a complete team win on Monday with all three phases playing their part in it.
It's a big week for Campbell and co. as they prepare for the franchise's first NFC Championship Game appearance in 32 years with a chance to go to the franchise's first ever Super Bowl. Here are all the key questions to come out of Campbell's Monday press conference:
What jumped out to Campbell after watching tape of the Bucs game?
Campbell opened his remarks with a shoutout to punter Jack Fox and the Lions' punt coverage unit for flipping the field a few times. He said field position won them the game Sunday.
Defensively, he thought they set the tone early with the takeaway on the Bucs' first possession, played really well coming out of halftime forcing two straight punts in the third quarter, and then obviously loved the interception by linebacker Derrick Barnes to seal it at the end. He said Barnes played well all game. He also said they were aggressive defensively and hit quarterback Baker Mayfield a lot. That's how they need to continue to play moving forward.
What kind of bar has been set for the atmosphere and crowd noise at Ford Field moving forward?
The Lions are done playing at Ford Field this season but what an experience it was being in that building the last two weeks. It's what Campbell envisioned when he took over the job and was confident he could change the culture and build a winner in three seasons.
"This is where we wanted to go. For all Lions this was the whole idea, right?" he said. "Everybody has been dying for it for so long. This is the point. Because of what we just saw in those two playoff games.
"The environment in there is better than any you're going to find in the NFL. I mean back-to-back weeks. The ear drums are just banging. The only thing is I thought I'd get a blown out ear drum and it didn't happen. I guess we'll have to work on that next year."
Campbell said even the Rams and Bucs players will never forget that environment the last two weeks. Campbell said it's special to play under that kind of duress and stress.
"We have something special that we built, all of us together," he said of Ford Field. "This is just the beginning."
Any updates on guard Jonah Jackson's injury?
Jackson left the game in the first half with a knee injury and did not return. Campbell confirmed Monday Jackson would be out for a bit but left open the possibility of his return for the Super Bowl in three weeks if the Lions advance past San Francisco this week.
Campbell said the depth they've built along the interior of the line and the reps they've banked this season has been good.
What makes Frank Ragnow such a good center?
Ragnow is one of the toughest players on the roster playing through toe, knee and back injuries all season while still playing at an elite level. He battled through an injury Sunday afternoon and didn't miss a snap. One of the aspects of Ragnow's game that doesn't get enough credit, according to Campbell, is his tape study and the mental aspect of setting up the protections.
Campbell holds meetings during the week with the offensive line, Goff and the running backs to go over all the blitz looks. He said Ragnow and Goff are always on the same page and Ragnow loves that aspect of the game.
"Frank prides himself on the mental side of the game," Campbell said. "It's one of the reasons why he is the best center in the league, in my opinion."
What does defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn mean to Campbell and the Lions?
There's no coach that grinds harder and puts more hours in on film study than Glenn, according to Campbell.
"There's nobody that works harder," Campbell said. "There's just nobody. He's got great vision for putting a plan together. He understands football very well. He's one of these guys – he's special. He has it. His ability to communicate, to relate, to push, to grind, to love, demand, he's got it all. He's an outstanding communicator and outstanding teacher. I'm just fortunate he's on staff with me."