Detroit Lions’ Anthony Lynn on future: ‘Figure that out when the time comes’

Detroit Free Press

Anthony Lynn’s future as Detroit Lions offensive coordinator has been in doubt since he lost his play-calling responsibilities earlier this season.

With the season nearing its end, Lynn said Thursday he is not sure yet what his future holds.

“You talk about next year, I’m just trying to get through the day,” Lynn said. “I really focus on staying in the present and trying to help Dan Campbell and this offense as much as I can. And if I do that, next year will take care of itself. We’ll figure that out when the time comes.”

Campbell restructured his offensive staff during the Lions’ November bye week,  assuming play-calling duties himself and making tight ends coach Ben Johnson the de facto pass game coordinator.

Lynn remains the Lions’ offensive coordinator, helping run offensive meetings, structuring the offensive gameplan and continuing to oversee the Lions’ rushing attack.

Lynn said in November he did not consider his new role a demotion. Earlier this month, he said he was comfortable with his new role but added, “Don’t mistake comfortable for liking the role.”

Asked Thursday how he feels about the way his job responsibilities have evolved, Lynn said, “You’re doing everything but calling plays.”

“I mean, you’re the coordinator but you’re just not calling it on gameday and some of the plays you do call,” he said. “The head coach still asks for your advice on this and that. But it’s different. It’s not the role that I came here for, but it’s still a role and we’re still trying to help the Lions win football games.”

The Lions are 2-3-1 since the bye and have averaged 18.2 points per game, up from the 16.8 they averaged when Lynn was calling plays.

Head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017-20, where he went 33-31 and oversaw some of the NFL’s top passing games, Lynn said he is interested in being a head coach again.

“I think we’re always evolving and things change,” he said. “Yeah, if the opportunity presented itself to try to help — but this is my opportunity right now, so I can’t even think outside of this opportunity. So it’s just best to stay in the present.”

Cancel culture

The Lions interviewed at least seven candidates for their head coaching job last winter. One candidate, then-Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, canceled his second interview in Detroit.

Smith said Thursday on a conference call with Detroit media his decision to forgo an in-person interview in Detroit was more about where he was at in the interview process with the Atlanta Falcons than it was anything to do with the Lions organization.

“I was very grateful for the opportunity to talk to the Lions,” Smith said. “I did the interview on Zoom. Loved the interview and just where I was during that process, where I was coming along with Atlanta, like I said, it was an honor to even be in the conversation to talk up there.

“So it was nothing against Detroit. I don’t know what their plan really was after that, I was just, once Atlanta offered me the job, that’s what I was focused on and I took it. So there really wasn’t — I guess you can phrase it that way, cancelling, but that wasn’t the intent at all. I loved talking to the Lions.”

The Falcons hired Smith as head coach Jan. 15, about the same time Dan Campbell emerged as the favorite for the Lions job.

The Lions are 2-11-1 this season under Campbell, but have played their best football the past few weeks. The Falcons are 6-8 and clinging to playoff hopes.

Smith said he does not know Campbell well, but “got to know him a little” in the offseason.

“We were at all the same workouts,” Smith said. “When you’re picking high in the draft … there’s a group of teams that are at all the same workouts, so got to know him a little bit. Obviously, Terry Fontenot our GM, knows him really well from their time together in New Orleans. I got a ton of respect for him. I appreciate what he’s trying to build up there, similar mindset. Just have a ton of respect for him.”

Lions COVID update

The Lions restored cornerbacks Nickell Robey-Coleman and Corey Ballentine to the practice squad from the practice squad reserve/COVID list, leaving them with four players in COVID protocols: Quarterback Jared Goff, offensive tackle Matt Nelson, injured receiver Quintez Cephus and practice squad cornerback Chris Williamson.

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

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