After Sunday’s blowout loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell said he was ready to make some significant changes to the team. From personnel decisions to preparation routines, nothing was off limits after the 34-11 loss that was not even as close as that final score suggests.
On Friday, Campbell revealed one strategy that he believes has already shown some positive returns: adjusting the practice schedule.
During a normal practice, the Lions would start with a quick walkthrough period before warm-ups, then jump into the bulk of practice. This is a fairly common way to practice and one the previous regime did as well. However, this week, the Lions actually moved their walkthrough portion inside during morning meetings.
“We just took a little bit of the block of the meeting time off in the mornings and then we’re doing the walkthrough, went out on the turf, and it’s kind of part of your morning meetings if you will. But now, we’re out here, they don’t need to get dressed, they’re in what they're normally in, you’re not taped, but it is a walkthrough and it’s a teaching environment.”
The reasoning for this is the team’s slow starts, especially on offense. The Lions haven’t scored a first-half touchdown in over a month, and they have just six first-half points in the past four games. By moving walkthroughs to the morning session, when the team straps the pads on later in the day, they’re already hitting the ground running.
“Now when we come out to the field, we’re going,” Campbell said. “We’re going. We’ve done that the last two days and I’ve thought we really – I do feel like we’ve started fast and the energy was there immediately because now it’s – you’re not walking through. You’re getting warmed up and we’re going right into it.”
Campbell has also been front-loading practice this week with high-intensity situational drills: third downs, gotta-have-it situations, for the defense: three-and-out or lose.
“It’s amazing what you can do with these guys,” Campbell said. “It doesn’t matter what you – they can play for a peanut and then all of a sudden it’s like they’re going crazy. But, it’s been good, it’s been competitive, the energy’s been up, and I like it. I think it’s created a little bit of a spark.”
It remains to be seen whether that spark will carry over to Sunday, but the Lions can’t afford to start slow against a Los Angeles Rams team that is currently sixth in scoring.