Jim Nagy and Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell have no history. In fact, their most significant connection is this week’s Reese’s Senior Bowl. Despite that, Nagy, who’s the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, did his homework on Campbell and his staff.
And that’s largely why he’s thrilled over the Lions staff coaching the American team on Saturday. Nagy, like most avid NFL fans, witnessed the Lions this season. Their record wasn’t great. I mean, it was 3-13-1.
Nevertheless, many saw how hard players played for Campbell and his staff. And that stuck with Nagy.
“Well they kept playing for those guys so that’s a huge testament to that coaching staff,” Nagy told Woodward Sports. “I don’t get to watch to watch a ton of NFL but I got a good set of eyeballs. My Dad lives in Northern Michigan and he’s a huge Lions fan. He just said ‘Jim, these guys are continuing to play,” so I think that speaks [for itself].”
He and his Dad are spot on here.
After all, the Detroit Lions posted a woeful 0-8 record in the first half of the NFL season. However, Dan Campbell made a few changes, most noticeable demoting offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, and they finished with a tie on the road (Steelers) and three straight home wins.
That type of resolve, and the fact the Lions coaching staff features multiple former NFL players is something Nagy feels the American team’s players will respond to.
“They’ve been there as players. I think there’s a connectedness with those guys. If you’re a player and you know some guys walked in your shoes, and played at that level, I think there’s a built in respect factor,” Nagy told Woodward Sports. “The biggest thing is, I mean, you’re going to year two and you got a team that didn’t quit. And just talking to Dan since he’s been down here, they are really excited about this football team. Like they don’t feel good about this team, they feel great about this team.”
Nagy said he didn’t speak with Campbell about which players the Lions would be looking closely at, but he did speak in-depth with Lions general manager Brad Holmes about the rosters. He declined to divulge the details of that conversation.
While he is happy to have the Lions’ staff on board, Jim Nagy does have expectations. And when outlining his expectations, he used a word that the Lions’ coaching staff thrived off the entire season.
“Just bring juice to our players, you just getting them better,” said Nagy. “I think that’s a sell for us that we have these full staffs coming down. These players get better when they leave Mobile.”
“I told them all that at orientation. You’re coming here as a certain level player, and when you leave, you’ll be a better player. The key thing [for them] is just good practices, uptempo, and a lot of competitive periods, which the league wants to see.”
He should have no worries there.
Duce Staley will be the head coach of the American team. Joining him as offensive and defensive coordinators are Ben Johnson and Aubrey Pleasant, respectively. Anyone that has paid attention to the Lions this season can vouch, that’s a ton of energy. Adding Dan Campbell on top of that is complete overkill.
And that’s what he desires to see.
“I’ve talked to a lot of guys that worked with Dan. I have never have on all the staffs I’ve been on. We’ve never worked together, but he’s got a great reputation as being a juice guy, and I know those guys will bring it,” said Nagy.
The 2022 Senior Bowl airs on the NFL Network, Saturday, February 5th, at 2:30pm EST.
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.