Dan Campbell Explains Why He Gave Up Chance To Chase ‘Offensive Guru’ Label

Dan Campbell says that offensive scheming will always be a part of who he is, but in 2022, he gave up the chance to change the 'offensive guru' label.

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell, known widely for his unconventional motivational tactics, has, at his core, an offensive-minded coach. Campbell showcased his strategic acumen by uplifting Detroit's offensive game during the last leg of the 2021 season. Under his guidance, Jared Goff‘s passer rating experienced a commendable spike, and Detroit's scoring significantly increased. Yet, Campbell made the decision to hand the offensive playcalling reins to Ben Johnson.

Dan Campbell vs. Jim Caldwell 2023 NFL Coach of the Year John Cominsky Detroit Lions

Dan Campbell Explains Why He Gave Up Chance To Chase ‘Offensive Guru' Label

During a recent interview, Dan Campbell explained why he gave up his chance to chase the ‘offensive guru' label that his mentor, Sean Payton, has earned during his career.

From ESPN:

“I love offensive football. I love scheming, the fundamentals, all of it,” Campbell said. “It will always be part of who I am. I love finding the little nugget, you get a little tip on a team, find a little way to attack this team, here's something consistent with this team, you can find your own matchup of our personnel against their personnel. I learned that from Sean. That's what we did well in New Orleans.

“That's what you learned, how to attack a defense. That being said, I'll always have input here or there, but I let Ben do what he needs to do and I manage things. Ben has done a hell of a job. With everything, he's been phenomenal.”

Campbell admits he has to “live through [Johnson],” which is easy because the two are in sync and often have the same ideas.

“I did say this from day one — I told myself, and I told [Lions owner] Sheila [Ford Hamp] when I took this job, I want to run this team, manage the team — I don't want to be just an OC that's a head coach. I wanted to run this team and have a hand in everything. Ben allows me to do that. If I didn't trust Ben, I wouldn't do that and it would be hard.”

Dan Campbell Detroit Lions linebackers

TL;DR (too long didn't read)

  1. Dan Campbell, while deeply rooted in offense and having learned under the great Sean Payton, showed his prowess in playcalling by enhancing Detroit's performance notably in the 2021 season.
  2. Campbell stepped back from solely embracing the “offensive guru” title, entrusting Ben Johnson with the playcalling duties. Under Johnson, Detroit achieved the fourth-ranked total offense and showcased innovative play strategies.
  3. Campbell’s vision for his role as a head coach is more comprehensive than just focusing on offense. He values managing the entire team and has a harmonious and trusting relationship with Johnson, allowing for efficient collaboration and shared goals.

Big Picture: Dan Campbell's Renaissance Approach to NFL Leadership

Dan Campbell's deep understanding of offensive play, inherited from mentors like Sean Payton, is evident. Yet, he's more than just an offensive strategist; he's a leader with a holistic vision for his team. Entrusting Ben Johnson with significant playcalling duties exemplifies Campbell’s trust and his desire to manage the entire Lions’ setup, ensuring overall growth and synergy within the team.