The Detroit Lions enjoyed a resurgent season at 9-8, and seemed to grow by leaps and bounds as a team.
Though they ended up with plenty of love on the national stage when all was said and done as a result of this, they still have a ways to go in terms of finding actual respect.
Head coach Dan Campbell, who’s work has been lauded in the past, was not named a finalist for the AP Coach of the Year award. Instead, Brian Daboll of the Giants, Sean McDermott of the Bills, Doug Pederson of the Jaguars, Kyle Shanahan of the 49ers and Nick Sirianni of the Eagles received that distinction.
The fact that Campbell was not on the list at all did not sit well with many fans and analysts alike, and they were sharing their marked displeasure all day long on Twitter. As Kenny Jordan put it, there aren’t many comparisons to this kind of snub.
“I haven’t seen an individual get robbed of being a finalist for an award to the extent of Dan Campbell this year since the Heisman left out Kenneth Walker III,” Jordan tweeted.
As Tyler Brooke, writer for Acme Packing Company on SB Nation put it, Campbell should have at least been a part of the list.
“Dan Campbell should have absolutely made this list,” Brooke tweeted.
Ron Terrell pointed out the fact that not only did the Lions improve their win total, but the team’s culture has flipped dramatically. As a result, he should have been a finalist.
“The Lions improved by six wins this season. The culture has been completely changed. Don’t tell me Dan Campbell shouldn’t be a finalist for Coach of the Year, NFL,” Terrell tweeted.
As Chris Harrison tweeted, it was simply a shame not to see Campbell on the list, or as part of a quality top-three.
“Dan Campbell not being on this list is a shame. My top three in no order, would have been Daboll, Pederson, and Campbell,” Harrison tweeted.
It wasn’t just fans and analysts realizing the oversight, though. Even players were frustrated by the decision, such as Detroit cornerback Jerry Jacobs, who tweeted his disappointment.
“No Dan Campbell,” Jacobs tweeted, along with some half-frown emojis. That was a take that was quickly echoed by defensive tackle Alim McNeill, who was baffled by the news.
“Huh?,” McNeill tweeted after the news had broken. Fullback Jason Cabinda seemed even more agitated.
“Where’s DC at?????,” Cabinda tweeted.
Clearly, not seeing Campbell on this award list has struck a major nerve with a lot of people in the NFL community. All Campbell can do is hope for a better result next season.
Ben Johnson Finalist for Assistant of the Year
While Campbell was not on the list, the league did reveal one bit of happy news for Lions fans. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is indeed a finalist for award recognition after his elite season.
Along with San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, Johnson was revealed as one of the finalists for the Assistant Coach of the Year award.
Johnson presided over an offense in Detroit that finished with a top four total ranking, putting up 380 yards per-game. Detroit’s passing offense was ranked eighth overall, putting up 4,281 yards and 29 touchdowns to go with 251.6 yards per-game. Amon-Ra St. Brown was the leader at the spot with six touchdowns and 1,161 yards.
Detroit’s rush offense was 11th, going for 128.2 yards per-game and 2,179 total yards and 23 touchdowns. Jamaal Williams was dominant with 17 touchdowns and 1,066 yards to lead this group.
After flirting with the notion of being a head coach, Johnson revealed his return to Detroit a week ago, thus setting the table for a positive offseason for the Lions in 2023.
Kerby Joseph Explains Campbell’s Coaching Style
No matter whether or not Campbell gets the love for what he accomplishes as a coach, his players already seem to embrace his tactics in a big way and appreciate him dearly. That was shown in the number that backed him up following the snub.
Rookie safety Kerby Joseph was recently interviewed by Jim Rome, and proved that again. As he said on the show, he appreciates Campbell’s coaching. Rome wondered aloud what makes Campbell such a great motivator.
As Joseph explained, it’s not something he can put his finger on, but he knows that he is all-in on Campbell, especially when he hears him speak and rally his team in the locker room.
“To be honest I don’t know. When he says something, I buy in. I’m not going to lie. I’ll be like ‘yeah.’ When he comes into halftime like ‘yeah yeah yeah’ turning us up, I’m like ‘yeah coach!’” He just makes me want to run through a wall,” Joseph told Rome. “I feel like he’s such a players coach I know he feels how we feel. He’s been through the same things we’ve been through. So I feel like we share that same love, that same passion for the game. ‘Coach whatever you in, I’m with.’ I’m not going to lie to you.”
Coming to Detroit, it was figured that Campbell would be a coach who could connect with players given his experience in the league as a player. He filled his staff with former players, and it seems he has reaped the benefits of such a move in the cohesiveness with which his team operates.
Campbell will be likely to receive more award love as his team achieves more success on the field, but it’s possible based on how he leads and what he has already accomplished that this should be the case.