Allen Park — In the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s ugly loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell’s ire made it difficult for him to organize this thoughts.
When asked about the team’s continued offensive struggles, the coach said he had “about a million ideas just floating around up here right now as to what I want to do.”
After an evening to calm his nerves and review the film of the contest through an emotion-free lens, Campbell found a way to distill the changes he wants to make from a million to a handful, although he wasn’t keen on offering many specifics through the media. But from the sounds of it, at least some of those adjustments will be with the roster personnel.
“I don’t want to get too far into where that will go as far as the roster, but we’re looking at that,” Campbell said. “I think we’re going to shake things up here a little bit.”
Campbell also acknowledged he’s looking into changing up the team’s practice routine. After the game he questioned his decision not to practice in pads Wednesday, a deviation from the team’s previous weekly routine.
Campbell also discussed further shortening up the play-calling lingo — a carryover conversation from the previous week — as well as incorporating more no-huddle into the offense.
All the changes are centered on getting the team to play with better tempo early in games, after getting shut out in the first half of three of their past four contests.
“I do want to change it up and see if I can get us into some type of rhythm or tempo early, just to get us going offensively and defensively,” Campbell said. “I said this yesterday, but this is what we wanted, we wanted to come in this game and really come out of the gates and we did not do that. We went the opposite way. I think there are some things in practice we have to do to at least see if we can supercharge ourselves somewhat.”
Almost every opinion about professional sports is debatable, but you’re going to have a difficult time arguing Los Angeles defensive lineman Aaron Donald isn’t the best defensive football player of the past decade.
A three-time Defensive Player of the Year, six-time first-team All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler, Donald has been an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses since the Rams drafted him No. 13 overall in 2014.
Michael Brockers, another former first-round pick, was entering his third season with the Rams when the franchise added Donald to the roster. The ability to work side-to-side with Donald as he laid waste to offensive linemen, running backs and quarterbacks on a weekly basis proved to be a career-altering experience for Brockers.
“The guy is really, he’s (transformed) my career, just watching a guy like that,” Brockers said ahead of his return to Los Angeles this week to play the Rams. “To have all the accolades he has and still work like he’s an undrafted free agent — he still has to work like he has no accolades, like he’s a nobody. He works so hard. He’s in the film room more than anybody I know. He’s in the weight room more than anybody I know. To see that and then to have that drive, that drives me now, you know?
“That drives me, and some of the young guys see that from me and they want to do it,” Brockers continued. “He’s (transformed) my career. Just (transformed) my leadership on how you do things around the building. His professionalism, man, I just thank him for — it wasn’t about him showing me, it was just about him being him every day. How he came into the room and how he came into the building and guys like myself watching him and just like, ‘Man, this guy watches film like more than the coaches and he’s in the weight room after everybody leaves, getting extra reps.’
“You see on Sunday what he does and he dominates,” Brockers said. “Everybody thinks he just shows up and does that. No, it’s to all the hard work he puts in throughout the week.”
The Rams traded Brockers to the Lions this offseason, where he’s been asked to assume a leadership role. Last week, defensive line coach Todd Wash praised the veteran’s ability to enforce accountability with the roster’s bevy of young players, such as Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike, a pair of defensive lineman the Lions selected in the second and third round of this year’s draft.
“I’m a guy who loves challenges and when they said, ‘Man, you come here, it’ll be good for your legacy as far as being a leader,’ that kinda spoke to me. “…I just feel like it’s a reason for me to be here. It’s a reason for me to be here and I think about that all the time, contemplate that.”
The Lions fortunately didn’t come out of Sunday’s game against Cincinnati with any serious injuries, but outside linebacker Charles Harris wasn’t able to finish the contest with what the team initially labeled as a hip injury.
After some further testing, Harris’ injury is now being labeled as an oblique strain and Campbell said the pass rusher is day-to-day.
Harris has been a bright spot for the Lions this season. The former first-round pick signed a prove-it, one-year deal as a free agent and has already set a new career-high with four sacks.
With Romeo Okwara out for the season after tearing his Achilles, Harris has stepped into a starting role, averaging 48 snaps per game the past four weeks.