Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell spoke to the media Monday one day after his team's 34-23 win over the previously 10-2 Minnesota Vikings to keep Detroit's playoff hopes alive in the NFC.
Campbell opened his press conference by recognizing players like Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Jason Cabinda, Romeo Okwara, C.J. Moore and Jarrad Davis, some of the longest tenured Lions players currently on the roster, who Campbell thinks are a big reason why this team is playing meaningful games down the stretch after having been through some rough times over the years.
Decker has been with the team the longest, and Campbell said he's a guy you want to win for.
What is one area Campbell would like see cleaned up or see more efficiency from the last four games of the season?
Campbell said first and foremost he'd like to see more efficiency in the run game on offense.
"We have to have better run efficiency on offense, that's a definite," he said. "Doesn't mean we have to run the ball more. We need to be much more efficient, and we can be with those guys up front and our tight ends and backs."
The Lions rushed for 134 yards against the Vikings on Sunday, but 42 of those yards came on a fake punt run by Moore. Detroit averaged just 3.2 yards per carry against the Jaguars Week 13, 3.4 yards per carry against the Bills Week 12 and 3.1 yards per carry Week 10 against the Bears.
The efficiency of quarterback Jared Goff and the passing game has kind of masked some of the inconsistency in the run game over the last month, per Campbell.
He also mentioned defensively how getting takeaways have been good for them, but he'd like to see a little better consistency on first and second downs to help close out opponent drives quicker.
On special teams, Campbell thinks they've left a lot of yards on the field in the return game and would like to see them pop a big one for a touchdown in one of these last four games.
How is cornerback Jeff Okudah's health?
Okudah missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday last week before returning Friday due to an illness. Campbell said being sick for a week zapped the energy out of Okudah on Sunday. Okudah ended up playing just 27 (42 percent) of the snaps on defense.
"It was a heck of a job by him just trying to gut it out," Campbell said of Okudah. "He didn't have a ton of energy."
Okudah had a key stop on a 4th and 1 play but did have a couple penalties early. Campbell anticipates Okudah feeling better this week and being ready to go Sunday in New York against the Jets.
What type of game is Campbell expecting Sunday against the Jets?
When referring to the Jets a couple times over the last few days, Campbell has been quick to point out the tough, physical nature of head coach Robert Saleh's football team.
The Jets at 7-6 are very much in the thick of the AFC playoff race.
"You are crazy if you don't think they want it," Campbell said. "They'll be coming with everything they got against us. So, this is going to be one of those where we have to be locked and loaded and ready to go. This will be a physical game."
Does this Lions team remind Campbell of any of the playoff-caliber Saints teams he was on the coaching staff with from 2016-20?
Campbell said this unit reminds him a little bit of the 2017 New Orleans team that had some young playmakers and ended up finishing 11-5, making the playoffs and winning a playoff game (Carolina) before losing to the Vikings in the divisional round.
"There are similarities," Campbell said of his current team and that 2017 Saints team. "We had a very young crop of pretty good players, and we had some pretty good veteran players, so there are some things about it.
"Nobody knew what we were going to be able to do but we battled it out and we were a tough team. We were physical and we could kind of compete in a number of different ways. To me, there are some similarities."
Campbell likes where this Lions team is currently at and how they're playing right now. It's a team that battles, and he likes that about them.