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Tracy Walker: ‘I don’t think we give enough credit to Dan Campbell’

Tracy Walker couldn’t have been more clear and effusive in his praise for the Detroit Lions coaching staff.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

After last year’s season finale, Tracy Walker looked exhausted. It was a tough year for him both on and off the field. He had to deal with the very public death of his cousin, respond to being away from his newborn child, and it’s clear he didn’t see eye-to-eye with a coaching staff that seemed to stunt his growth as a player.

That December, Walker was asked if how the coaching staff utilized him was responsible for some of the struggles he was dealing with.

“I’d rather not answer that question, to be honest with you,” Walker replied.

What a difference a year can make.

The Detroit Lions may have finished 2021 with a worse record than last year (3-13-1 as compared to 5-11), but Walker looked like a man reborn after Detroit’s 37-30 win over the Green Bay Packers in the season finale—a game which Walker, himself, clinched with a last-minute interception.

Walker has made it clear all season how much he credits the coaching staff to an improved season from the fourth-year safety, but he couldn’t have been any more clear after Sunday’s game.

“We’ve had so many ups and downs this year, that I don’t think we give enough credit to Dan Campbell,” Walker said. “He’s a hell of a coach. He’s always preparing us, each and every week, to go out and compete against the best of the best. At the end of the day, I feel like things are coming together, and we see that. The moral of the story is that we continue to build every week. Last week, we didn’t have the best game, but we came back and bounced back this week.”

That quote just comes days after Walker told the media that this coaching staff, in Year 1, have already taught him so much about the game.

“I’ve gotten better because of those guys,” Walker said on Friday. “Since they’ve gotten here, I’ve seen massive improvements in my game, you know? Mentally, physically and as a man. So at the end of the day, that’s why I still want to play for them.”

That last part is important. Walker is set to hit free agency this season, and he’s likely due for a significant pay-raise from his expiring rookie contract. His status for next year came up again on Sunday, and Walker admitted the chance to play for this coaching staff again is going to be a major factor when he has to make a decision in the next few months.

“That plays a huge role, for sure,” Walker said. “If you don’t agree with your coaches and your coaching staff, man, that can be so detrimental to your team. I feel like with these coaches, they believe in the players. They understand what it’s like to be a player, first off, so they’re open ears. Sometimes we might not be right as players, but they’re still open to hear it. That’s the biggest thing for me. That was the biggest difference, honestly. I respect these coaches for that, giving me a voice, and allowing me to voice my opinions, and hearing me out, regardless if I’m right or wrong.”

Walker’s words not only give us a big indication of whether he’ll stick around for the future, but it’s also another clear example of how this new coaching staff is succeeding where the previous regimes have failed. They are relating to their players. They are motivating their players. And we’re just starting too see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to results on the field.