Conflicted Dan Campbell won’t name Detroit Lions play-caller: ‘Eagerness to call it myself’

Detroit Free Press

Whether he’s doing it to gain a competitive advantage ahead of Sunday’s season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles or because he really is torn on his decision, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell still is not ready to name an offensive play-caller.

Campbell said Monday he feels like offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is ready to handle play-calling duties after doing so all preseason.

“But I think I am, too,” Campbell said at his weekly Monday news conference. “So this is going to be good. This’ll be fun. And he’s done a great job.”

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Campbell called offensive plays for the final nine games of last season, after stripping those responsibilities from then-offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn following the Lions’ 0-8 start.

The Lions went 3-5-1 in the second half of last season and got substantially more production from their offense. Jared Goff saw his passer rating rise by nearly 20 points and the Lions averaged 4.5 points more per game.

Johnson doubled as pass game coordinator during that stretch, was promoted to offensive coordinator this winter and has drawn rave reviews in his new position.

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He called plays in practice all spring and throughout training camp and manned the Lions’ offensive communication system in all three preseason games.

Asked who will call plays Sunday against the Eagles, Campbell said, “Well, this is going to be interesting. We’ll find out. I’m excited to know, too.”

Johnson, who has meshed his own coaching philosophies with Campbell’s ties to Sean Payton and Goff’s experience with the Los Angeles Rams in the Lions’ new playbook, kept the offense deliberately vanilla this preseason, and Campbell said there may be an edge in waiting to name a play-caller, too.

“I mean, maybe, maybe not, I don’t know,” Campbell said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m just not quite there yet. I mean, I still have this eagerness to want to call it myself and so I’m just – man, it’s going to be. I don’t know. Pretty good.”

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