Dan Campbell

Lions’ Dan Campbell Not Interested In Coaching At Alma Mater

NOVEMBER 17: It certainly appears Texas A&M did make an inquiry, with Campbell indicating the SEC program “maybe” reached out in the wake of Fisher’s firing. “That’s my alma mater; I want to do anything I can to help them but coach for them,” Campbell said (via The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman). Campbell’s Lions contract runs through 2025. Even if Campbell is not interested, being high on Texas A&M’s list illustrates how high his stock has climbed during the Lions’ rise.

NOVEMBER 16: Dan Campbell made the unexpected rise from Saints tight ends coach to successful Lions leader, jumping the ladder despite having never held an NFL coordinator role. With Year 3 of the Lions’ rebuild producing one of the most promising seasons in modern Lions history, the popular HC’s stock has skyrocketed since his New Orleans days and 2015 stint as Dolphins interim HC.

When Texas A&M fired Jimbo Fisher, Campbell’s name came up. Prior to entering the coaching profession, Campbell turned his Texas A&M college career into a third-round draft slot and an 11-year run as an NFL tight end. Considering the Aggies’ sudden need at their highest-profile coaching job, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reports the program reached out about the gig.

While Dodd describes this as a backchannel effort to gauge Campbell’s interest in returning to his alma mater, the third-year Lions coach is not interested in the position. Campbell, 47, is a Texas native who trekked to College Station in the late 1990s from the Dallas area.

Moving directly from a head NFL job to a college leadership role has taken place, of course. Jim Harbaugh famously left the 49ers for Michigan after the 2014 season, his fourth with the team. Though, a conflict with GM Trent Baalke contributed to Harbaugh’s NFL exit. Bobby Petrino bolted late in his first Falcons season, returning to the college game for the Arkansas job. Pete Carroll‘s USC stint began a year after the Patriots fired him. Chip Kelly returned to the college ranks a year after the 49ers canned him.

This is also not the most stable time for the college game, with conference changes accompanying the transfer portal and NIL ruling as major developments that have altered the Division I-FBS landscape. For as much pressure as the NFL provides, complications on that level do not exist. As evidenced by the record-setting buyout Fisher will receive, Texas A&M could certainly make Campbell a monster offer that would be worth considering. But it would be shocking to see the well-respected HC leave his Detroit post while the team is on this level. Adding to that, Campbell has never coached in college. He transition from reserve tight end to assistant coach in 2010.

The Lions have not won a division championship since 1993, nine years before the NFC North existed. Detroit’s two NFC Central titles in the 1990s — the other coming in 1991, when the franchise last won a playoff game — represent two of the organization’s three division crowns in the post-merger era (the other came in 1983). The Lions are rarely on this level, but the Campbell-Brad Holmes regime has elevated the once-downtrodden franchise to a rare place. While the Lions have won division titles in the distant past, they have never earned home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. Entering Week 11, this is also in play for the 7-2 team.

Campbell remains attached to the six-year contract the Lions gave him to oversee this rebuild. If the Lions secure an NFC North title and snap their 32-year playoff win drought, it would certainly not surprise if the franchise rewarded him with an extension.

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches

After the 2022 offseason produced 10 new head coaches, this one brought a step back in terms of turnover. Five teams changed HCs, though each conducted thorough searches — four of them lasting until at least January 31.

The Colts and Cardinals hired their HCs after Super Bowl LVII, plucking the Eagles’ offensive and defensive coordinators (Shane Steichen, Jonathan Gannon). The Cardinals were hit with a tampering penalty regarding their Gannon search. Conducting their second HC search in two years, the Broncos saw multiple candidates drop out of the running. But Denver’s new ownership group convinced Sean Payton to step out of the FOX studio and back onto the sidelines after just one season away. The Panthers made this year’s first hire (Frank Reich), while the Texans — running their third HC search in three years — finalized an agreement with DeMeco Ryans minutes after the Payton news broke.

Only one of last year’s top 10 longest-tenured HCs lost his job. A turbulent Colts year led to Reich being fired barely a year after he signed an extension. During a rather eventful stretch, Jim Irsay said he reluctantly extended Reich in 2021. The Colts passed on giving interim HC Jeff Saturday the full-time position, despite Irsay previously indicating he hoped the former center would transition to that role. Reich landed on his feet, and after losing Andrew Luck to a shocking retirement just before his second Colts season, the well-regarded play-caller now has another No. 1 pick (Bryce Young) to mentor.

After considering a Rams exit, Sean McVay recommitted to the team and is overseeing a reshaped roster. Andy Reid also sidestepped retirement rumors, staying on with the Chiefs after his second Super Bowl win. This will be Reid’s 25th season as an NFL head coach.

Here is how the 32 HC jobs look for the 2023 season:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007; extended through 2024
  3. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008; extended through 2025
  4. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010; extended through 2025
  5. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013; extended through 2025
  6. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017; extended through 2027
  7. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017; extended through 2023
  8. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017; extended through 2025
  9. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018; signed extension in February 2022
  10. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019: signed extension in July 2022
  11. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019; extended through 2026
  12. Ron Rivera (Washington Commanders): January 1, 2020
  13. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  14. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020
  15. Robert Saleh (New York Jets): January 15, 2021
  16. Arthur Smith (Atlanta Falcons): January 15, 2021
  17. Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers): January 17, 2021
  18. Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): January 20, 2021
  19. Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles): January 21, 2021
  20. Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): January 27, 2022
  21. Brian Daboll (New York Giants): January 28, 2022
  22. Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  23. Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings): February 2, 2022
  24. Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars): February 3, 2022
  25. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): February 6, 2022
  26. Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): February 7, 2022
  27. Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): March 30, 2022
  28. Frank Reich (Carolina Panthers): January 26, 2023
  29. Sean Payton (Denver Broncos): January 31, 2023
  30. DeMeco Ryans (Houston Texans): January 31, 2023
  31. Shane Steichen (Indianapolis Colts): February 14, 2023
  32. Jonathan Gannon (Arizona Cardinals): February 14, 2023

Lions OC Ben Johnson Addresses Decision To Withdraw From HC Searches

The Lions’ offensive output in 2022 came as a surprise to many, but it put offensive coordinator Ben Johnson in position to interview for multiple head coaching positions. He quickly backed out of other teams’ searches for a HC, though, electing to remain in Detroit for the coming campaign.

That decision earned him a sizeable raise, and it will give him the opportunity to continue working with head coach Dan Campbell and quarterback Jared Goff. The latter’s performance – especially in the back half of the season – helped Detroit rank fourth in total offense and fifth in scoring en route to a 9-8 finish. Johnson was viewed as an instrumental part of the team’s success, and he drew considerable interest on the head coaching market as a result.

The 37-year-old took virtual interviews with the Colts and Texans, but the job he was most closely connected to was that of the Panthers. Johnson (who had not served as a coordinator before 2022) was considered a favorite for the Carolina gig before he decided to stay in place. The allure of carrying on with Campbell and Goff in particular convinced Johnson to avoid taking a new position for at least one more year.

“He’s one of the biggest reasons why I didn’t want to leave,” Johnson said of Goff, via The Athletic’s Dan Pompei (subscription required). “I feel we are tied together to a degree. He’s an extension of me, and I’m an extension of him. I’ve told him multiple times his success is my success and vice versa.”

Goff’s success under Campbell and Johnson (as opposed to the latter’s predecessor, Anthony Lynn) came as a surprise, and it could earn him an extended look in the Motor City. The Lions have explored the idea of a new deal for the 28-year-old, despite their decision to select Hendon Hooker in this year’s draft. Two years remain on Goff’s current deal, which includes no guranteed money in 2024.

That will no doubt lead to questions about his long-term future in Detroit as the coming season plays out. Optimism for a repeat of 2022’s success would be well-founded in the fact that Johnson will still be at the helm of the team’s offense, something which may be the case for years to come beyond 2023.

Lions Rumors: Gambling, Joseph, Gibbs

After the Lions were hit with multiple suspensions in April for player gambling violations and the announcement that the NFL was still investigating for further violations, Detroit has decided to take matters into its own hands, according to Kyle Meinke of MLive. The Lions are working to provide their players with a self-imposed supplemental education into the league’s policies on gambling.

The team’s violations led to the release of the players involved, except for former first-round pick Jameson Williams, who received a six-game suspension for making bets on non-NFL games while at the Lions’ facility. With so much damage done, head coach Dan Campbell gave some words on the team’s decision to implement further instruction.

“It’s much more an emphasis from us, as opposed to just leaving it to the league,” Campbell said. “Like, we need to make sure that we really hit this ourselves and make a point of it. We did, but obviously not enough. The proof’s in the pudding. So, for us, let’s take it out of their hands. They will have what they do every year, but now we need to put our own emphasis on it. And I think that is the best way to do it, is to highlight it.”

Here are a few other rumors coming out of the Motor City:

Lions Aiming To Have DL Levi Onwuzurike Healthy By Training Camp

The Lions have made a number of moves on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, but they could receive a boost if Levi Onwuzurike were able to return to the field. The defensive tackle is rehabbing a back injury which cost him the entire 2022 season.

The 25-year-old entered the league with health concerns related to his back dating to his college career. He was nevertheless able to suit up for 16 games as a rookie, totaling 35 tackles and one sack along the way. Expectations were relatively high for the former second-rounder entering heading into 2023, but an aggravation of his existing issue in the summer forced him onto IR.

Unable to rehab the injury to the point where he would be able to play again that year, Onwuzurike underwent surgery in October. That procedure was aimed at giving him the best chance of recovering and extending his career in the long term, but doubts understandably persist with respect to his playing future. When head coach Dan Campbell spoke about the situation in April, he left it up in the air whether Onwuzurike would be able to continue his time in the NFL. His most recent remarks paint a more optimistic picture, though.

“I would say he’s probably about right on schedule for what we thought,” Campbell said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press“He just got on the grass, really about a week ago, to where he can begin to run… how fast can his body come back? We don’t entirely have that answer.”

Campbell left the door open to Onwuzurike having a notable role if he were able to return to full health in 2023. The Lions did little to address their defensive front during free agency, releasing veteran Michael Brockers while retaining a number of less expensive in-house options. They spent one of their two third-round picks in this year’s draft on Brodric Martin, who will look to earn a role during training camp in July. That is also roughly the point at which Detroit is aiming to have Onwuzurike back in the fold.

“Certainly, we’re hoping that we get him in camp at some point,” Campbell added. “But I can’t give you a timeline of that right now.”

Lions Sign Hendon Hooker; QB Not Expected To Play In 2023

Along with the previously-reported deals for offensive lineman Colby Sorsdal and wide receiver Antoine Green, the Lions announced on Friday that they have signed quarterback Hendon Hooker to his four-year rookie contract.

The Tennessee alum was one of the wild cards in this year’s draft class, given his productive time with the Volunteers. An ACL tear which ended his final college season, along with his age (25) were factors which worked against him at the draft, and they led to his slide down the board to No. 68 overall. It was at that point in the third round that the Lions selected him, leading to questions about starter Jared Goff‘s long-term prospects with the franchise.

In the immediate future, however, the latter (who was made aware of the Hooker selection in advance) is secure atop the QB depth chart. Hooker’s recovery from the ACL injury, along with his acclimation to the pro game in general (something of particular importance given the unique Tennessee scheme he is coming from) is expected to keep him sidelined for the 2023 campaign despite positive reports on the former front.

“Really, this is a redshirt year for him,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Hooker on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). “He’s got to get this leg right first and then he’ll learn under Jared, and then let’s see what happens. If he can eventually become your two or maybe down the road, later on, it’s more than that, but it’s going to be a long time.”

Sitting out the first year of his rookie pact will make the age factor even more prominent in evaluations and expectations of Hooker, though Campbell recently stated that his age was not a detriment to the team’s willingness to draft him as a potential Goff successor. With the latter on the books for two more seasons, a patient approach could prove to be a fruitful one for Detroit.

The Lions are considering an extension for Goff, however, which could delay Hooker’s opportunity to ascend to the QB1 spot. Given the team’s success on offense in 2022 with Goff at the helm, a repeat performance this season could leave Detroit with an interesting decision to make under center with respect to their setup for 2024 and beyond. In any case, that season is the earliest in which appearances from Hooker can be expected.

Lions DL Levi Onwuzurike Facing Uncertain Future

The Lions took a risk when they drafted Levi Onwuzurike in 2021. The back issues the defensive lineman faced in college have remained at the NFL level, and they have put his playing future at risk.

Onwuzurike entered the league with plenty of promise and expectations as a second-round pick. He was able to play 16 games as a rookie, despite missed time in the summer due to chronic back ailments. The Washington product showed potential in a rotational role, totaling 35 tackles while adding one sack and two tackles for loss.

That could have provided a stepping stone to a larger workload in 2022, but Onwuzurike re-aggravated his existing issue during the first practice of the summer, resulting in an IR stint. By October, it had become clear that suiting up this season would not have been possible. As a result, he underwent surgery aimed at giving him the best chance possible of continuing his career in 2023 and beyond. When providing an update on his status, head coach Dan Campbell was unable to definitively point to a return at any time in the future.

“We just need to see how it is,” he said, via Kyle Meinke of mlive.com (subscription required). “We talked to him a couple of weeks ago, he was doing good. The rehab has gone well, but you just don’t know. You don’t know with a back. But I mean certainly, he’s going to get an opportunity if the body will allow it.”

Indeed, a path to significant playing time certainly exists for Onwuzurike. The 25-year-old has little in the way of veterans ahead of him on the depth chart, especially since Detroit moved on from Michael Brockers earlier this offseason. The team’s other moves along the defensive interior have included re-signing Isaiah Buggs, Benito Jones and John Cominsky. An outside addition late in free agency and/or a notable investment in the draft would come as little surprise given the Lions’ situation at the position. Particularly if Onwuzurike isn’t able to practice and play on a consistent basis, such action may become necessary.

NFC Draft Notes: Lions, Bears, Falcons

As many as four quarterbacks could hear their names called within the top 10 picks in the 2023 draft, leaving many questions to be answered for teams in position to land a top signal-caller. The Lions hold the sixth selection, which could allow them to make an addition at the position.

That seems unlikely, given the presence of incumbent Jared Goff and the team’s needs at other areas, though. When speaking about the matter of quarterback evaluations, head coach Dan Campbell confirmed his approval of Goff, while leaving the door open to a rookie passer being added at some point.

“What we were hopeful and thought we were going to get [in Goff] is a guy who, man, he’s our guy,” Campbell said (video link via CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones). “He’s bought us time here. We believe we can win with Jared Goff. In the meantime, we also know he’s not going to be here for the next 10 years… It’s not like Jared Goff’s a rookie, so certainly our eyes are on, potentially a quarterback. And the question is, where do you acquire that at? And that’s something that [GM] Brad [Holmes] and I kick around all the time… We don’t feel like we’re pressed. But that doesn’t mean our eyes aren’t on a quarterback.”

Goff is under contract for two more years, but the Lions could move on from him after the 2023 season given the nature of his contract. The team has the 18th and 48th selections this year; the latter could be used on Tennessee product Hendon Hooker, who has a visit lined up with Detroit. How that process goes could determine the team’s willingness to use a high pick on a potential Goff successor.

Here are some other draft-related items from the NFC:

  • The Bears have, as expected, been active so far in free agency. Their spending to date has not, however, yielded an addition at offensive tackle. General manager Ryan Poles said (via The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain) Chicago will “keep an eye” on the remaining veteran options, a group which was thinned out considerably during the opening days of the new league year. Poles confirmed that the next move will likely come at the draft, where they hold pick No. 9. That spot could land them Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski or Ohio State alum Paris Johnson Jr., as they also look to find the best long-term position for 2022 fifth-rounder Braxton Jones. The latter played full-time on the blindside as a rookie, but could move to right tackle depending on how the first round plays out.
  • The offensive front is considered a strength for the Falcons, especially with right guard Chris Lindstrom in place on the largest contract in league history signed by an interior lineman. That has led many to expect Atlanta to look at other positions with the eighth overall pick, but NFL Network’s James Palmer notes the team is looking into o-line options with their top selection (video link). In particular, the Falcons could be eyeing Skoronski or Johnson on the inside to start their career, with the potential to take over from Jake Matthews at left tackle. The latter, 31, is on the books through 2026 but only has guaranteed money on his deal for two more seasons. A defensive addition would come as no surprise on Atlanta’s part, but they will have at least done their homework on the top lineman prospects.

Lions Not Considering DC Aaron Glenn Replacement

The Lions have shown a dramatic turnaround on offense this season, but their performance on the other side of the ball has led to them owning a 1-3 record. Defensive changes are coming, according to head coach Dan Campbell, but that will not include replacing defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn

Detroit leads the NFL in points and yards per game on offense one month into the 2022 campaign. However, they rank dead last defensively in both of those categories, as showcased most recently in Sunday’s 48-45 loss to the Seahawks. In response, Campbell, Glenn and the rest of the team’s defensive staff are eyeing alterations to their personnel packages and scheme (Twitter link via team reporter Tim Twentyman).

One of those could involve more diversity in the ways rookie Aidan Hutchinson is deployed. This year’s No. 2 overall pick had a noteworthy second career game with three sacks, but has been held without one in the three other contests. He has six tackles for loss and eight QB pressures, but could be used in different alignments within the formation moving forward, Twentyman tweets.

Glenn, meanwhile, has been a rising name in the coaching ranks around the league. Detroit hired the former defensive back last season, amidst interest from several other teams. That was the case again this offseason, with the Saints eyeing a return to New Orleans for the 50-year-old to fill their head coaching vacancy representing one of many interviews he received. Despite his unit’s struggles early on, Campbell is backing Glenn to retain his position.

“I’ve had to do this before and I’m not afraid to make a hard decision,” Campbell said yesterday, via the Detroit Free Press“If I really believed that was the cause of it and I don’t believe it is. I believe that Aaron Glenn was the right man for the job and he gives us our best hope, our best option, to run this defense. I just do.”

The Lions will look to improve defensively against another 1-3 squad, the Patriots, in Week 5. New England is facing a number of questions at quarterback, so that game could represent a useful opportunity to begin a turnaround.

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches

The NFL experienced a busy offseason on the coaching front. A whopping 10 teams changed coaches during the 2022 offseason, with the Buccaneers’ late-March switch pushing the number into double digits.

Fourteen of the league’s 32 head coaches were hired in the past two offseasons, illustrating the increased pressure the NFL’s sideline leaders face in today’s game. Two of the coaches replaced this year left on their own. Sean Payton vacated his spot in second on the longest-tenured HCs list by stepping down from his 16-year Saints post in February, while Bruce Arians has repeatedly insisted his Bucs exit was about giving his defensive coordinator a chance with a strong roster and not a Tom Brady post-retirement power play.

While Bill Belichick has been the league’s longest-tenured HC for many years, Payton’s exit moved Mike Tomlin up to No. 2. Mike Zimmer‘s firing after nine seasons moved Frank Reich into the top 10. Reich’s HC opportunity only came about because Josh McDaniels spurned the Colts in 2018, but Indianapolis’ backup plan has led the team to two playoff brackets and has signed an extension. Reich’s seat is hotter in 2022, however, after a January collapse. Linked to numerous HC jobs over the past several offseasons, McDaniels finally took another swing after his Broncos tenure ended quickly.

As 2022’s training camps approach, here are the NFL’s longest-tenured HCs:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007; extended through 2024
  3. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008; extended through 2025
  4. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010; extended through 2025
  5. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013; extended through 2025
  6. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017; extended through 2025
  7. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017; extended through 2023
  8. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017; extended through 2025
  9. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018; signed extension in February 2022
  10. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018; extended through 2026
  11. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019; extended through 2027
  12. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  13. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019; extended through 2026
  14. Ron Rivera (Washington Football Team): January 1, 2020
  15. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  16. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  17. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020
  18. Robert Saleh (New York Jets): January 15, 2021
  19. Arthur Smith (Atlanta Falcons): January 15, 2021
  20. Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers): January 17, 2021
  21. Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): January 20, 2021
  22. Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles): January 21, 2021
  23. Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos): January 27, 2022
  24. Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): January 27, 2022
  25. Brian Daboll (New York Giants): January 28, 2022
  26. Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  27. Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings): February 2, 2022
  28. Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars): February 3, 2022
  29. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): February 6, 2022
  30. Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): February 7, 2022
  31. Lovie Smith (Houston Texans): February 7, 2022
  32. Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): March 30, 2022