Pittsburgh — Heading into and coming out of the team’s bye week, fixing the Detroit Lions’ offensive woes clearly became a pet project for coach Dan Campbell. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, he took an aggressive step in that process, taking over play-calling duties for the unit.
The transition began after the Lions were obliterated by the Philadelphia Eagles, 44-6, before the bye. After that game, Campbell committed to watching the tape of the offense three times before doing anything else, attempting to get to the root of the unit’s issues.
And coming into the past week of practice, Campbell acknowledged he was committing more of his time to the offense, which meant more in-person time in position group meetings and game-planning sessions.
But on Sunday, for the first time this season, it was Campbell on the headset communicating with quarterback Jared Goff instead of offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.
Campbell acknowledged the switch after the 16-16 tie, but he tried to downplay the perceived role reduction for Lynn.
“One of the things was why not change it up a little bit here,” Campbell said. “I wanted to be able to talk to (Goff) in game. Sometimes I think you’re able to get in the flow of the game when you’re the guy who’s calling it. It just helps to know exactly where to go.
“Honestly, I don’t think it’s a big deal. There were still things I was giving to A-Lynn when he was calling. It’s just now I took the green dot (headset with direct line to the quarterback) basically to Goff so I could communicate to him. I’ll still grab some (play) calls from them. I’ll use my own calls. It was a joint effort by all those guys.”
Earlier in the week, in an interview with Sports Illustrated, Campbell estimated he had called just eight to 10 offensive plays this season. And prior to this season, he had never held a play-calling position, serving as a tight ends coach in Miami and New Orleans, outside of his brief stint as the interim head coach for the Dolphins in 2015.
For what it’s worth, Goff thought the change went smoothly.
“It was really good,” Goff said. “I thought he did a great job and had a good feel for wanting to come back to something that we had done previously and kind of wanted to mix it up. I think he’ll only learn and continue to get better from here.”