To say Dan Campbell had a noteworthy press conference in his first as Detroit Lions head coach would be quite the understatement. Campbell’s presser went viral for his rant about biting kneecaps, but throughout the 90 minute session, he said so much more, and was refreshingly honest throughout the process.
So because far too many national pundits have hyper-focused on the admittedly entertaining knee-cap comments, I have pulled the 10 best quotes from the press conference that have nothing to do with scratching, clawing or eating any body parts.
“Maybe the most impactful thing to me was when I talked to (New Orleans Saints general manager) Mickey Loomis. I asked Mickey about that, and he said, ‘Dan is the kind of head coach that coaches are going to run to Detroit and want to be on his staff.’ He will attract people because they’ll want to work with him.”
— Team president Rod Wood on Dan Campbell’s ability to attract a good coaching staff
“I’m not going to go into the money issue, but I hope we can repair things with Calvin Johnson. He was obviously an amazing player for us. We’re going to continue to reach out to him and hope that we can repair things because I think it’s important that he comes back into the Lions family. We’d love if he could, if he will.”
— Owner Sheila Ford Hamp on the team’s relationship with Calvin Johnson
“One of the things would be that I told my agent, Rick Smith, ‘Make sure that they think I’m Matt Campbell.’”
“This is one of those jobs that I identified. I told my agent, ‘Whatever you have to do to get me in front of Sheila and Rod, please do.’ When this became available – because I played here, I know the city. I know what it’s about. I know the people. It’s a special community, it’s a special place.”
— Dan Campbell on his desire to coach specifically in Detroit.
“I’ve learned more football under him (than) as my time as a player, but now as a coach, being under him five years, about how you see the game, how you use your staff, how you hire your staff, situational football, when to go for it, when to not, when’s it time to be aggressive, when’s the time to back off. But a majority of the lessons that I have are from him, so I’ll forever be grateful for that.”
— Campbell on Saints head coach Sean Patyon’s influence on him
“This guy – he’s unbelievable. You want to talk about vision? We see the game very much the same way. We see players very much the same way. Last night we were talking – I don’t know. We finished each other’s sentences twice, one of them was about vision.”
— Campbell on his relationship with new Lions general manager Brad Holmes
“Here’s my philosophy on offense, and defense for that matter: We’re going to run a system that puts our best on your worst. That’s what we’re going to do because that’s what we did in New Orleans. We’re going to find a way to put our guys in one-one-one matchups, whether it’s run or pass. If you’re telling me that our left tackle is better than their right end, and we can run outside zone all day – we’re going to run outside zone, as long as we cut off the back side. Why not? If we can exploit a weakness, we’re going to do it.”
— Campbell on his overall philosophy, X’s and O’s
“I want to understand what makes a player tick, and who they are, where they came from because there’s a reason why everybody – everybody has some things in their life they react negatively to or positively to, and I think when you can get into the nuts and bolts of it to who the human is, then you realize maybe the reason that guy showed up (late) was something very simple that’s going on in his life, as opposed to just reacting and blowing your top over the fact that he’s late. Maybe actually something is going on. Now, I would blow my top and have a problem – but I would sit down afterwards and say, ‘What’s going on? Is there something I need to know, and let’s find out?’”
— Campbell on his leadership style
“I know there’s this preconceived notion about me, of course I want to run the football because there’s a mentality about it. There’s a physicality about it. It makes you better defensively as well, when you do it against yourself in practice. But ultimately, man, I want to find the best guy for the job that fits what I want to do and fits what we’re trying to do here and can put our guys in the best situation to have success.”
— Campbell on the perception that he’s run-first
“I think the short answer to that is no, but I think your odds go way up of having success when you find one of those guys. So, I think, look, this is a passing league right now. It just is. The numbers that are being put up grow every year in the pass game. Look, I think that’s certainly an important piece that every team needs.”
— Campbell on if you need a franchise quarterback to win in this league
“Look, I don’t want to sell you guys something that you’ve been sold so many times over and over. Believe me, I get it. I wouldn’t want any of you guys to just jump on board right now and be like, ‘Oh, I’m a sold.’ I got it. One hundred percent. I wouldn’t expect you to.
“But I’m going to do everything in my power to win you guys over and get our team to win you guys over. At the end of the day, I know wins and losses are the only thing that matters, but when I say that I want our team to take on the identity of this city, I mean it. They’re going to hear that from me. This is the first time that they’ve heard it, just like you have, but they’re going to hear it from me and it’s going to mean something from me. It’s going to mean something. It’s going to mean that when you come into Detroit, you’re going to leave beat up.”
— Campbell on being more than cliche