Detroit Lions owner Sheila Hamp gives team leadership vote of confidence, despite 1-5 record

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Lions owner Sheila Hamp expressed confidence in head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes in a rare meeting with reporters Wednesday, but stopped short of saying both men’s jobs are safe for 2023.

Hamp talked with reporters for four minutes inside the team’s indoor practice facility in a surprise interview that came just after the open portion of practice.

The Lions are 1-5, have lost four straight and have the worst record in the NFL, and Campbell is 4-18-1 in 23 games as head coach.

“I know this is difficult,” Hamp said in a 1-minute, 11-second opening statement. “A rebuild is hard. But we really believe in our process, we really believe in we’re going to turn this thing around the right way, through the draft. It requires patience, it’s frustrating. Am I frustrated? Absolutely. Are the fans frustrated? Absolutely. Are you guys frustrated? But I think we really are making progress.”

Hamp said the Lions embarked on “a huge teardown and then turnaround” when they hired Campbell and Holmes in simultaneous search processes in January of 2021.

The Lions had finished in last place in the NFC North each of the previous three seasons, and had seen their culture deteriorate under former head coach Matt Patricia.

Holmes and Campbell, who had never worked together before uniting in Detroit, traded away longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff and three draft picks, including two first-rounders — the Lions used one of their first-round picks to trade up for Jameson Williams, who has not played a snap yet this season, and will receive the other in next year’s draft — and spent last season laying a foundation with young players.

MAILBAG: Should the Lions tank for Bryce Young?

The Lions were last in the division again last season, finishing 3-13-1, and lost three games on field goals as time expired. They were expected to take a step forward on the field this season, after being featured on “Hard Knocks” in training camp, but have the NFL’s last-ranked defense and have failed to score a touchdown in their past two games.

Asked Wednesday if Campbell and Holmes’ jobs are safe no matter how the Lions finish this season, Hamp said, “I believe in the leadership,” then added, “Really, I mean it,” as a Lions official ended the interview and escorted her away from reporters.

Hamp said little about the job Campbell and Holmes have done specifically, but twice expressed confidence in the search process that led the organization to hire both men.

NFL TRADE DEADLINE: 19 players to keep an eye on heading into Tuesday

PODCAST: It’s time to bet against Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady

NFL NEWSLETTER: Sign up now to get football news delivered to your inbox

Lions executives Chris Spielman and Mike Disner joined Hamp and team president Rod Wood in establishing the criteria the team wanted in its coach and GM, and the group hired Campbell and Holmes separately, rather than let one make the hire for the other job.

Asked why she believes Campbell is the right coach to lead a turnaround when other organizations like New York Jets and New York Giants have experienced more success coming from a similar state of disrepair in a shorter period of time, Hamp said, “What I really have confidence in is the process we went through in the first place when we hired Brad and Dan.”

The Jets are 5-2 in their second season under Robert Saleh, who interviewed with the Lions in 2021, and the Giants are 6-1 in their first season under Brian Daboll after five straight double-digit loss seasons.

“It was extremely thorough and we really believe we’ve come up with the right people,” Hamp said. “So I can’t comment on other teams rosters or what they have in the first place, all I know is what we had and where we’re going.”

The Lions opened this season with a 38-35 loss to the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles and put up 36 points in a win over the Washington Commanders in Week 2, sparking hope they would compete for a playoff berth this season.

Campbell made a late-game decision to try a long field goal that backfired in a Week 3 loss to the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings, and the Lions have lost their past three games in frustrating fashion: They scored their most points ever in defeat in a 48-45 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4, when their defense failed to force a punt, then struggled offensively in back-to-back losses to the New England Patriots (29-0) and Dallas Cowboys (24-6).

The Lions started four rookies on defense against the Cowboys and had the NFL’s highest-scoring offense the first month of the season, positives Hamp cited when listing reasons to believe this turnaround is on track.

“Any turnaround there’s going to be ups and downs,” she said. “It’s not going to be smooth, it’s not going to be like this. I wish it were. That’d be simple. But it’s not. There’s going to be fluctuations and the other thing is, you all well know our team is very young and that’s not an excuse, that’s a fact. And young players are going to make mistakes, so we’ve had some key mistakes that have cost us games. Hopefully we’re not going to repeat those, hopefully we learn. But it is a process. And that’s what it is. It’s hard, and it’s really hard to stay disciplined. I mean, no one hates losing more than I do, than my family does. But it’s just, we’ve got to get through it.”

The Lions, owners of the NFL’s longest drought without a playoff victory, are on their ninth full-time head coach since they last won a postseason game in January of 1992. They have not won a division title in 29 years and have not had a winning record since 2017.

Hamp said she believes this rebuild will be different than others the Lions have embarked on because of the people in charge.

“We really had to take it down to the ground level,” she said. “And it’s been not only the football side but across the organization. We’ve put in a lot of new talent at the top. I really believe in the top leadership in this organization and I think we’ve got the people to do it, to carry this out. I think that’s what different.”

Asked how long her patience in that leadership will last, Hamp said, “Patience lasts — as I say, we’ve got a long way to go in this season.”

“You’ve seen it,” she said. “It’s just, this was a huge teardown and then turnaround. And we really, we’re only a third of the way through the season we’ve got 11 more games to go. So I just don’t want everyone to push the panic button and give up the ship because I think we’ve got the right people in place to pull this off and I truly believe that. And I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t believe it.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

Articles You May Like

4 key stats for Lions vs. Falcons: Detroit’s rookie class paces the NFL
Lions snap count notes and observations from Week 3
Week 3 NFC North predictions: Vikings earn first win, Bears’ woes continue
Brian Branch was ‘licking my chops’ for big hit on Bijan Robinson
Notes: What national writers are saying about the Lions after their Week 3 win

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *