Why Detroit Lions OC Anthony Lynn doesn’t consider losing play-calling duties a demotion

Detroit Free Press

Despite losing the primary responsibility usually attached to his position, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said Thursday he did not consider surrendering play-calling duties to coach Dan Campbell in Pittsburgh a demotion.

“I wouldn’t say that. I don’t know, I don’t see it as a demotion,” Lynn said. “I’ve been in Dan’s shoes, and if I was 0-8 and I need to spark my team, then as an offensive guy, I probably would’ve done the same thing, to be honest with you, and I have. I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t agree with what he did.”

Campbell said his main motivation for taking over play-calling was to communicate directly with quarterback Jared Goff. Only one coach can speak to the quarterback via radio headset.

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The offense loaded up on runs at sloppy Heinz Field, rushing for 229 yards on 39 carries in Sunday’s 16-16 tie with the Steelers. The Lions improved to 0-8-1 and avoided becoming the NFL’s first 0-17 team.

“I thought it worked well,” Lynn said. “I thought we worked well together last week. He asked me my opinion on certain things, and he makes those calls, but he wanted to talk to the quarterback. That was the main thing.

“He wanted to communicate with the quarterback and only one person can do that, so he’s got the headset and I will call plays. I’ll call it through him, and I’ll assist him and do whatever he wants me to do.”

Lynn could not quantify how many plays he called against the Steelers, but he praised Campbell’s offensive acumen.

“Dan knows football,” he said. “Dan is sharp as hell. He’s been in New Orleans with a high-power offense. He brings a lot of good ideas to the table throughout the week when we game plan.

“I thought he called the game last week that gave us the best chance to win the game. We had to run the ball 40 times in those conditions, and I haven’t had any problem with that.”

Lynn would not divulge whether Campbell would stay in place as the play-caller for the rest of the season, or even for Sunday’s road game against the Cleveland Browns.

“Not necessarily,” he said. “We’ll see. I’ve got to be ready at any time. So I’m probably busier now than I’ve ever been.”

With the duties of calling plays off his plate, Lynn occupied himself last week with other tasks like looking for tendencies, writing up charts and providing Campbell with whatever help he needed.

Lynn further played down the idea of a demotion or a reduced role by citing the roles of other NFL coordinators who don’t call plays. But that usually only happens when the head coach is the architect of the offense, such Andy Reid in Kansas City, Sean Payton in New Orleans, Sean McVay in Los Angeles and Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. Campbell didn’t bring an offense to the Lions, nor had he called plays in previous NFL coaching jobs.

“Coordinating is a lot more than calling plays,” Lynn said. “There’s a lot of guys around the league that don’t necessarily call the plays.

“But you have to coordinate the meeting schedules, you’re still trying help serve the players the best you can and assist the head coach in the information that he needs to call the game. So, I mean, you still have a big role, but you’re not the primary play-caller.”

Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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