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O'HARA'S FINAL THOUGHTS: Campbell's message has gotten through in first year as head coach

Dan Campbell's message has gotten through in his first year as head coach of the Detroit Lions in such a way that the success or failure of the team cannot be judged by wins and losses.

In the standings, the Lions' 2-13-1 record going into today's season finale against the Green Bay Packers is a failure.

But the way players have competed and developed throughout the season has put the franchise's rebuilding program on solid footing.

As the Lions go forward to the 2022 season and beyond that's more important than the won-loss record.

Campbell, his staff and GM Brad Holmes inherited a roster that wasn't ready to compete, let alone win.

The players bought in early to what Campbell was selling to change the culture.

"It's everything," Campbell said. "If they don't buy in, they don't believe in what you're doing, you're pretty much a lame duck.

"There's not much you can do. The buy in is huge."

Campbell talked about a recent conversation he had with Sheila Ford Hamp, principal owner of the Lions, regarding development of the roster.

"That's what all this is about," Campbell said. "Of course we wanted to get the wins, but the most important thing is to develop our talent, develop our players, develop our culture.

"I told Sheila this the other day: 'We've kind of been in the Arctic Ocean, but we're headed to the Caribbean. You can see it. I can see it. It's not always easy to see. It's a long way to go. But we're heading there.'

"I do know this: That's what this year has been about."

The tides are changing for the Detroit Lions.

Random Thoughts:

Rookie Wall: It's real, and the Lions have had success this season with their draft picks pushing through a pro schedule longer and more demanding than what they experienced in college.

Four of the seven draft picks have played all 16 games -- offensive tackle Penei Sewell, nose tackle Alim McNeill, wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and linebacker Derrick Barnes. Defensive end Levi Onwuzurike has played 15.

Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn gave credit to the players for their preparation, and to the strength staff for their work.

"This is a physical game," Glenn said. "You've got guys as rookies playing 16 games. The wear and tear of this league, you give credit to the player. You give credit to the strength staff, also."

Injury hit list: Injuries are expected in the NFL, but not at the rate that hit the Lions behind the defensive line.

Three of the four linebackers who started on opening day are on injured reserve -- Trey Flowers, Alex Anzalone and Romeo Okwara. Jamie Collins Sr. was released. Starting cornerbacks Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye are on injured reserve.

Backup plan: Tim Boyle learned enough in his three starts for the Lions to feel confident he can play quarterback in the NFL.

"One hundred percent yes," he said. "I can play in this league. I believe that."

Bottom Line: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has said he wants to play, and so do his teammates. It's logical that Rodgers would like to make a splash, then turn the offense over to the backups. That could be long enough for the Packers to win a close game.

Pick: Packers 27, Lions 26.

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