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Detroit Lions coaches too caught up with mistakes to celebrate division title

Two Detroit Lions coordinators didn’t take much time to celebrate the team’s NFC North title—they were hung up on getting mistakes corrected.

Cincinnati Bengals v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Now that the Detroit Lions have wrapped up a divisional title with two weeks left in the season, head coach Dan Campbell warned about the dangers of complacency earlier in the week.

“That’s the biggest opponent, right now, for us, is really the satisfaction complacency,” Campbell said. “That is what we’re going to fight from here on out and they’re going to know that.”

It’s safe to say that Campbell will have no problems there with his coaching staff. On Wednesday, both offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said they didn’t get caught up in the celebration after Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings. They were too busy harping on some of the mistakes made during the game.

For Fipp, it was the blocked extra point that could have proven costly had the Vikings capitalized on their final drive and an illegal formation penalty. He was so immediately focused on getting those mistakes cleaned up that when his family was searching for him in the locker room celebrations from players’ Instagram Lives, he was nowhere to be found.

“As a coach, you are definitely so worried about the next thing and it is very, very hard to reflect and realize any good during the season,” Fipp said. “And so really, I don’t even know what we’ve accomplished. We’re trying to win the next game and that’s how I coach people, but it is definitely how we feel.”

And if you thought maybe the next day being Christmas would have provided some relief and relaxation for Fipp, you would be dead wrong.

“I think the older you get and the longer you coach, the plays that stick in your mind are the negative plays, so the blocked extra point from last week,” Fipp said. “And it’s Christmas Eve, you can’t sleep, you wake up on Christmas morning, you’re still frustrated. And then you’re thinking about, ‘OK, now what are they going to do to us this week? How are they going to attack us? We’ve got that on film.’”

It was a similar experience for Johnson. Although the Lions were able to hang 30 points on a good Vikings defense, Johnson couldn’t help but harp on failing to close out the game on offense and the several delay of game penalties, for which he took full responsibility.

“You still go to the locker room and I’m over here still thinking about, ‘Man, I wanted to finish the game with the football,’” Johnson said. “(I) really wanted to seal it out that way, and so I’m kind of kicking myself. Like I said, the delay of games, the play-caller’s got to get the play in faster and the guys will make it right. That’s the bottom line.”

That sort of mentality was clearly a focus of Campbell this week, and it appears the message has trickled down to the players.

“I mean (Campbell) made that loud and clear early this week that our focus is now shifting,” Johnson said. “And I think our guys are responding the right way.”

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.