Lions conclude interview with Dan Campbell for coaching vacancy

Detroit News

Justin Rogers
| The Detroit News

The Detroit Lions wrapped up their fifth, known interview for the team’s head coaching vacancy on Monday, virtually meeting with New Orleans Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell. 

A 10-year NFL veteran, Campbell was selected in the third round of the 1999 draft by the New York Giants. The tight end, listed at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds during his playing days, would go on to have stops in Dallas and Detroit. He last played in 2008, appearing in one game for the Lions before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury. 

Campbell quickly transitioned into coaching, joining the Miami Dolphins as an intern in 2010. He was assigned the team’s tight ends in 2011 and coached the position the next five seasons. 

In 2015, when the Dolphins fired head coach Joe Philbin, the team named Campbell interim coach. He immediately installed more physically demanding practices, including the incorporation of the Oklahoma drill, which drew national headlines. 

“To me, the best teams that I’ve been a part of are the ones that, during the week, they go after each other,” Campbell said at the time. “Whether it’s practice squad versus the defense. They’re giving the look of practice squad versus offense, but it gets heated. And it’s intense, and it’s people that are fighting to win. They want to get noticed or they want to do their job. It’s not just going through the motions.”

That Dolphins squad went 5-7 under Campbell’s guidance and he was given the opportunity to interview for the full-time position at the end of the season, before the franchise ultimately settled on Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase. 

Campbell would go on to take a job with the Saints, where he would not only coach the teams tight ends, but serve as Sean Payton’s assistant head coach. 

“He’s a fantastic guy, a great worker, a great teammate,” Payton said after the hire. “He’s someone that is tough, strong. I can’t say enough good things.”

In recent years, Campbell has interviewed for four head coaching positions, in Green Bay, Arizona, Cleveland and Indianapolis. He was a finalist for the Colts job that went to former Lions quarterback Frank Reich, after Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels backed out of an agreement with the franchise. 

Along with Campbell, the Lions have announced four other interviews for the job formerly held by Matt Patricia. The team talked with former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis before the end of the season and met with Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and interim coach Darrell Bevell last week. 

The team also is expected to interview Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles this week.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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