Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell regrets running on third-and-32 vs. Chicago Bears

Detroit Free Press

On second thought, Dan Campbell would like a do-over on that third-and-32 play from last week’s loss to the Chicago Bears.

Campbell said Wednesday there are three calls in particular he regrets from his three weeks calling offensive plays for the Detroit Lions.

The most recent came late in the second quarter of Thursday’s Thanksgiving game, after three straight penalties left the Lions in an unmanageable first-and-30.

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Jamaal Williams caught a 4-yard pass on first down and a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage that went for a 6-yard loss on second down. On third-and-32, Campbell called a shotgun handoff from his own 49-yard line that gained 1 yard and forced a Lions punt.

The Bears scored the go-ahead touchdown two plays later.

“It’s one thing to run it, but I hated the run that I called,” he said. “That’s one. But two is, hindsight, I wish I’d have thrown. We’d have had something a little deeper and if it’s there, great. If not, check it down, see what you can get and now you’ve got a decision to make. Do you still punt it or do you go for a field goal? I wish I had that one back.”

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Campbell, who took play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn after the Lions’ Week 9 bye, detailed one other play call he said he’d like to re-do: a third-and-10 pass to Trinity Benson that went for 5 yards in the fourth quarter of a tie game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Specifically, Campbell said he wished he would have called the play out of a different formation and from a different hash mark.

He did not detail the third play call he said he wanted back.

“We had it out of a two tight end set and had it into the other hash,” Campbell said. “I called it out of 11 (a three-receiver formation) and then we had it the other way, we had it on the other side. So the combination of those two things you’re going to get more than a 5- or 6-yard gain is my point. You’d like to believe that. Just things like that.”

The Lions have averaged 13.3 points during Campbell’s three games as play-caller, after scoring 16.8 points per game under Lynn.

Campbell said Lynn has kept a big hand in designing the run game and protections, and tight ends coach Ben Johnson is helping design the pass game.

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“I’m doing what I feel is best for our team right now,” Campbell said. “This is not about me. This is not about my ego, about me trying to — like, I’m doing what I believe I need to do right now and what I feel is best for us.”

Lions quarterback Jared Goff said he has found a comfort zone with Campbell, who had never called plays before this season, in his ear.

“I think everyone can feel it,” Goff said. “His comfort level is starting to set in and anytime you take something over like that in the middle of the season and haven’t done it before, it’s going to take a week or two and I think he’s really settled in this past week. I know he’d be the first one to say he wants things back, but I think he’s doing a great job and feel confident in him.”

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

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