Detroit Lions’ Dan Campbell breaks down his offensive play calling: ‘I’m growing at it’

Detroit Free Press

Two games into his new role as offensive play caller, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell admitted Monday he is learning on the job.

“Certainly there’s things I wish I could have back,” Campbell said. “But I’m growing at it as well.”

The Lions have scored 26 points in the two games since Campbell demoted offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn as play caller and installed himself in the role.

They played the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 16-16 tie in Week 10, when Jared Goff had 54 yards passing in regulation, and had their second-lowest scoring output of the season in Sunday’s 13-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Campbell said circumstances have impacted his play selection. Goff suffered a strained oblique early in the Steelers game that limited the passing game, and backup Tim Boyle made his first career start in Goff’s place last week.

But the Lions have found success with D’Andre Swift running the football. Swift has 266 yards rushing on 47 carries the past two weeks.

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“We’ve kind of found the running game here, but I think that maybe there’s a couple of calls there where — it’s tough to say because you could say, ‘Well maybe we ought to pass it here,'” Campbell said. “But also, wanting to be mindful of the first week you’ve got a guy who you don’t feel like can push the ball down the field, you want to be smart, and the conditions aren’t good and then we come back with another game where the conditions aren’t great. And then Boyle hasn’t — it’s his first start.

“So just, you go back and forth on that. Do you try to care of them? Do you try to get it with Swift on the ground or do you put it in his hands? So you play that game a little bit.”

The Lions (0-9-1) have averaged 13 points and 275.5 net yards with Campbell as play caller, compared to 16.8 points and 321.1 net yards under Lynn.

Goff and Boyle have combined for 131 yards passing in regulation the past two weeks.

“I think that it’s no different than anything else,” Campbell said. “You always look at yourself and figure out where you can improve. I mean, certainly, there’s a couple of calls I wish I could have back. I think that certainly finding some runs has been pretty good. I feel like just mixing it up and letting those guys go up front has been pretty good and it’s helped us.”

Turnover time

Amani Oruwariye intercepted his fourth pass of the season Sunday. He is tied with six other players for the fourth most picks in the NFL.

“It means a lot,” Oruwariye said. “Obviously, I love to make plays, but I love winning even more, and I know that’s hard to say, but I truly do. I’ve been around winning, I know what it looks like and we’re almost there. But I’m just glad I can make those plays for the defense.”

Oruwariye picked off a deflected Baker Mayfield pass Sunday that he said was simply a product of being “right place, right time.” He had interceptions against the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals earlier this season, and has been a big reason for the Lions uptick in takeaways this season overall.

The Lions have 12 takeaways through 10 games, including five the past two weeks. Last year, they finished with 12 takeaways and seven interceptions — Oruwariye had one — for the season.

“I keep telling (Oruwariye) he needs to buy me a lotto ticket or I’m going to give him money and he can pick the numbers because he’s coming up with them,” Campbell said. “Look, every team I’ve been on, player or coach, all of a sudden when you start getting a couple and they start smelling it, it just, it starts happening and they start feeding off of it and they really believe they can cause one and you get balls out of it. It’s kind of what’s happened here and it’s given us a chance is what it is doing.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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