Dan Campbell: Patience by Lions owner Sheila Hamp ‘only goes so long’ when you’re losing

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell was appreciative of the vote of confidence owner Sheila Hamp gave him amidst the team’s 1-5 start this week, but Campbell said Hamp’s comments do not change the urgency of his situation.

“I mean, look I’m not blind to any of this,” Campbell said Friday. “I appreciate that and I know, but I also know the reality. I mean, we got to win. I mean there’s still urgency here. I mean that’s not – that’s never changed. I mean, we know what kind of business we’re in. I know what kind of business I’m in and I know that the patience only goes so long.”

Hamp held an impromptu 4-minute meeting with reporters Wednesday to show support for Campbell, general manager Brad Holmes and their staffs in Year 2 of their rebuild.

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The Lions went 3-13-1 last season and are an NFL-worst 1-5 this year entering Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

They have the worst defense in the NFL, an offense that has not scored a touchdown in eight quarters, and Campbell has made crucial mistakes managing games.

“I know this is difficult,” Hamp told reporters. “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.”

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Hamp declined to say if Campbell and Holmes would return for 2023 no matter how this season finishes, but she insisted, “I believe in the leadership,” and touted “the process we went through in the first place when we hired Brad and Dan.”

Asked about those comments Friday, in his first availability since Hamp met with reporters, Campbell said he “appreciated it.”

“But I also, I know that – she’s told me that’s how she feels, so I’m not surprised by it, either,” he said. “But I appreciate it, she didn’t have to do that. So certainly, I appreciate that and I know that – I know that we have her support. But I don’t take that for granted, I don’t take it lightly, either. I know that that’s not easy. It’s not easy at all. It’s not easy on anybody. But certainly, I do, I appreciate it.”

At 4-18-1, Campbell is off to the worst 23-game start by a Lions coach since Jim Schwartz went 4-19 in 2009-10. The Lions went 2-14 in Schwartz’s first season, improved to 7-9 in Year 2 and made the playoffs in his third year.

“We’re trying to get one this week and then after that takes place, then you go get the next one,” Campbell said. “But I mean, it’s all about winning. I mean, we’re not – we’re not trying to kick the can down the road. We’re not trying to say any of that. I mean, we’ve got a team here that I know can win and it’s my job to get them there.”

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‘Slim to none’

Campbell said right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai likely will not play this season after undergoing back surgery in September. Vaitai was injured late in training camp, and the Lions have used a rotating cast of linemen − Evan Brown, Logan Stenberg and Dan Skipper − in his place.

“He’s doing well,” Campbell said. “I would say (the chances of him playing) would be very slim to none as of right now, but the surgery went well and he’s doing great. It’s just – that’s one of those long term. It’ll be probably – if you’re asking me right now, I’d say it would be hard to get him back.”

Backup guard Tommy Kraemer, who has not played this season because of a back injury, could return “at some point here over the next few weeks possibly,” Campbell said.

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

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