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Dan Campbell says players on Lions’ 2020 ‘disheveled’ defense looked overwhelmed

Campbell vowed not to make the same mistakes of the previous coaching staff.

Detroit Lions

There’s little doubt that the number one priority for new Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell will be to fix the defense. That side of the ball finished last in the NFL in points allowed, yards allowed and ranked dead last in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.

While Campbell will certainly have to work with general manager Brad Holmes to add better talent to that side of the ball, the Lions head coach made some interesting comments about the defensive side of the ball when he joined 97.1’s “Stoney and Jansen with Heather” on Friday morning that suggested Detroit’s defensive issues went beyond personnel.

Based on his scouting of the Lions for their Week 4 matchup against the Saints, he believes the team still hadn’t adjusted or learned the scheme completely.

“Let me say this: It almost looked like they were trying to figure out, ‘What world are we in right now? Are we trying to play this four-down, up the field? Are trying to two-gap? Am I trying to set an edge? Am I squeezing? Where’s the safety fitting?’ I just felt like it was a little disheveled. That’s all,’ Campbell said.

To be fair to the Lions, this was Week 4 of the season, and the Lions were dealing with a pretty big change in personnel in 2020. That being said, this was Year 3 in the defensive scheme, and for some of those players to be struggling after a couple of offseasons was nothing short of unacceptable.

Campbell went on, trying not to put the blame on the Lions’ coaching staff... but he certainly sounded like he was blaming the coaching staff.

“Look, I’m not trying to blame the coaching staff, but that’s also not on the players all the time either now,” Campbell continued. “Certainly, when you don’t know what you’re doing all the time, or you’re not 100 percent sure, you’re not going to play to the talent level that you have.”

Then, he promised not to have those kind of problems now that he was in charge of the team.

“I will tell you this: That’s the last thing that we’re going to do here. Our players are going to know what to do so that we get 100 percent of their talent. We will pull it out of them, because they know exactly what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and they’re going to pull the trigger and go.”

Campbell continues to say the Lions have the building blocks on the defensive side of the ball, even though he—and Holmes—have openly admitted that side of the ball needs more attention this offseason. Interestingly enough, the one player he mentioned directly on 97.1 on Friday was upcoming free agent linebacker Jarrad Davis.

“Davis, man. One of the first things I circled was if we’re running inside zone or we’re running our 42 ace, our lead draw, and you’re leading on number 40, man you better freakin’ be ready for him to drop his hat, and hit you right under the chin. He will literally split your chin open and knock your hat off.”