Dan Campbell press conference - Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

December 5, 2022

Opening Statement: “Really nothing new to speak of. Guys played pretty well, there’s always things to clean up, but we were – the intensity was there, the urgency, they were ready to go. Takeaway was big by (Lions S DeShon) Elliott. That really set the tone for the game and (Lions LB Alex) Anzalone getting the recovery. I thought on special teams, I thought (Lions LB Josh) Woods and (Lions RB Justin) Jackson and (Lions K Michael) Badgley really stood out. Offense, (Lions QB Jared) Goff had a big game, (Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown) Saint, talked about (Lions WR DJ) Chark. I thought the O-line blocked really well. And then, defensively, man, (Lions CB) Will Harris I thought showed up. (Lions CB) Jerry Jacobs, Alex Anzalone, it was pretty good man. Certainly, Elliott getting that big fumble we talked about, but as a whole the guys played well, played really well. It’s a credit to the coaches, they had them ready to go.”

On Lions QB Jared Goff’s increase in confidence level: “Well, look he’s – every week has been really a little bit different job description, believe it or not, what we’ve asked him to do or what we need him to do. But here’s the one consistent is man, just make the right decisions, take care of the football and he’s done that. And that’s five weeks going now and that’s a big part of the reason why we’re winning. He’s making very smart decisions and we were going to put a lot on him yesterday with his arm. This was going to be a big – put it in the air, we just felt like that was the way to attack this team. And he did that and then some.”

On what has changed in Lions QB Jared Goff’s confidence level throughout the season: “I just think some of it was circumstance. When you find that you’re behind, then I think you subconsciously are going to press it a little bit. And sometimes you take more risks, and I think that goes a little bit hand in hand when we’re playing better defense too.”

On if Sunday’s game against the Jaguars was an example of everything going the right way: “Yeah, I would say that’s about as close to a dream as you could get. That’s – ideally you wish you could play it out that way every week, but the reality is it just doesn’t work that way. But that’s really what you want, man, you get a takeaway, starts the game, you don’t have to punt. The only thing that would’ve been icing on the cake is a return for a touchdown, punt return or a kickoff return or you block a punt. But it was pretty good certainly.”

On the fans’ rising expectations for the team: “Yeah, I don’t – for me, it’s just – it’s kind of like what I told the team, all I care about is what we’ve got coming up. We’ve got six games and I know if we can make enough waves and win enough games, then we’ll look up and we’ll see what happens at the end of the season. But as far as expectations, you guys can figure that out and the fans. But I do believe in this team, and I haven’t wavered from that, I believed in them even when we were 1-6. So, we’ve got to play good football, it’s a good team coming in. But there again, I like our football team.”

On if he senses he has created more belief from people on the outside looking in: “I don’t – I mean, I don’t know, yes and no. I mean, I’ll go places and people are – nobody’s mf-ed me to my face or anything yet. But people have been nice, which I get some of that which is awesome. But I also know – look, I don’t read everything, but I told you I get hit up with things, and so I know at one point I was going to get fired and now I’m not. So, I know how all this works and the reality is, man, we’re 5-7, we’ve got five to go here. And man, this is a big five-game stretch for us and we’re getting better. And that’s all – that’s really all it is right now.”

On if he gets a feeling pregame or during a Friday practice that the team is ready to play: “Well, look you always have a feeling of – you have these feelings one way or another, but it doesn’t always mean – you can’t always gauge it that way as much as you want to. Now, I can say this, I’ve been around – rarely, but I have been around where it felt flat, felt very flat and we played flat. I’m just talking about, not necessarily here, but I’ve been part of those teams. But I’ve also been part of man, the week was stellar, it was – and then, man we got in the game, and it was rough. They turned the ball over and things happened. But I just know the vibe is right, the approach is right, the way the guys come in and work. The way they are in the meeting rooms, the way they lift. I mean, we’re in December and these guys are – they work out like they are in the spring and summer. So, that’s a credit to our players, we’ve got the right guys and our coaches.”

On if he had to grow into the philosophy of throwing the ball and using skills position players to close the game instead of running the ball to drain the clock: “We knew that was the best way to attack this team, and I know if you let off the gas too soon, and you start pulling back too soon, bad things can happen. There’s a fine line, I know, but we were confident that was the right approach, the right game-plan for this defense, and so we did that. The clock runs, and you let it roll a little bit, but to us, it was the right way to go.”

On if coaches ever need reminders to not let the foot off the gas too early: “Yeah, you never had to worry about it with (former Saints Head) Coach (Sean) Payton. You were not going to let off the gas, I can promise you that. And it always worked out for us there, but I had been – I’ve been part, as a player and a coach, where you do. If you have a little bit of a lead and you start backing off too soon, and all of a sudden, you’ve got to restart it, and it’s hard. You lose your momentum. So, you’ve just got to be careful, but it worked out well for us.”

On the philosophy behind the defensive coaching staff simplifying terminology and schemes over the bye: “Yeah right, I mean I think that was a good way for him to say it, but it’s things particularly in the backend that they can really sink their teeth into, the front as well. We’re no different – they’re no different, but what I’d say is, we really dialed back like New England, but we’ve slowly started to get back to some of the things we were doing. We’ve been able to open it up because our guys are maturing. They’re growing, they’re getting better, they’re working better together, they’re starting to understand each other. I mean at one point, (Lions Defensive Coordinator Aaron Glenn) AG, we were talking – shoot man, this was probably a week ago, and sometimes you forget it, but at one point, it was like the only two guys we had that were out on the field that started for us last year were (Lions DL) Alim (McNeill) and (Lions LB) Alex (Anzalone). Everybody else was new. Either they were drafted, or they were hurt. And so, we’re starting to get – guys have been playing together, they’ve been repping together, and so, as they gain confidence in what we’re running, now we’re able to – we’re opening up the playbook a little bit more. And so, now, the more we can do, the more those guys can play off each other. We’ve become a little more complex, but not too complex for us.”

On the importance of the defense not being coached back to square one during their struggles early in the season: “You can’t be a sitting duck. You just want to get your bearings back to where they gain the confidence to be able to just line up and play, but if you sit there too long, these offenses will just pick you apart. I mean, it’s too easy. You can’t do it. You have to be able to mix coverages and pressures, shoot, your shunts, everything. And so, that’s what we’re slowly getting back to.”

On if he could provide an example of simplifying the defense going wrong: “Nope.”

On if the Vikings are a different team right now than they were in Week 3: “Yes, because they’re still winning. They’re still winning, so I would say it’s a better version of what they were because they’ve continued to win. This is a winning team. They found ways to win, that’s what they do. And those are the hard teams because they’ve done it against multiple opponents, different ways. Special teams, offense, defense, they’re finding ways to win.”

On the mindset going into a divisional matchup and if there is an extra boost gained when playing a divisional rival: “Well, I would say this, man, all hands on deck this week. And our fans have got to show up, which I know they will. This is going to be electric. It is big. This is big, it’s big for our players, it’s big for us, shoot, it’s a big game for them. But man, look, they’re all special, but this is one of those games, this is why you’re into coaching, this is why you’re into playing, this is why you love the game of football. It’s going to be awesome.”

On if he changes the way he gives the team a message when they are winning compared to losing: “No, same message. I didn’t change when we were losing, I’m not changing now that we’re winning. I mean you just stay the same, consistent. Now, there may be a way that I speak or the approach or something I put up so that I don’t become monotoned, but no, you stay consistent, and I believe in that. Best coaches I’ve been around are very consistent. Doesn’t matter what’s going on around them, they’re the same guy.”

On if Lions DL Romeo Okwara being inactive yesterday was a personnel decision or a health-based decision: “We just wanted to give him just a little bit more time. He’s close, but yeah, we wanted to see how he was. He had a pretty good load last week, let him wake up Sunday morning, how did he feel, all that, and now, here we go. Let’s see where he’s at Wednesday.”

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