Dan Campbell was a different coach this time last year. Heading into his first training camp as the Detroit Lions head coach (HC), he seemed overly excited. Maybe a little unhinged. And there was definitely a sense of nervousness.
It’s understandable for several reasons.
For one, the Lions HC job is the first time a team has hired Campbell into that position. Secondly, he’s a former Lions’ player himself. He played three of his ten NFL seasons in Detroit. Those two things alone are reason enough to explain why Campbell wore his emotions on his sleeve last year.
Well, guess what? That fella has left the building. At least a part of him, anyway.
Don’t get it confused. Dan Campbell is still excited about football. And he’s damn sure still a bit unhinged. I mean, the man just turned 46 a few months ago, and on Wednesday morning, he taped his wrists, and participated in drills with his players.
The part of Campbell that was nonexistent was the nervousness. When he spoke during his morning media session on Wednesday, Campbell appeared confident, determined, and focused.
Along with that, he appeared to be a coach who has learned how to channel his energy and excitement for the game. Because he’s aware of how being his authentic self positively affects the team.
“I just try to be me. I’ve got a lot of energy. I’m excited. I’m enthusiastic. I am just me,” said Campbell. “I think that’s what comes out of me, so I think that helps those guys. They kind of – they believe me, I guess. They feel it, [and] they react off of that. I think it helps.”
“I don’t know any other way than just to say that’s just kind of how I am. Those guys, I just said it, play off of me.”
And he’s not lying. Throughout the Lions short Wednesday practice, one thing was evident. The players are truly following his lead.
“I’m excited to have Dan (Campbell)”, said T.J. Hockenson after practice. “You guys see him. And he’s not just like that in front of the cameras. He’s like that everywhere. The excitement that he has, it trickles down for sure.”
“We’re all just the same.”
The Detroit Lions are going to have to produce more wins this year than last. Lions fans won’t be able to handle going another year where the first win of the season happens in Week 13. Luckily for them, Dan Campbell laid the foundation for changing this team’s culture last season.
And that should translate into a significantly better season than the last one.
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.