I love me some Dan Campbell. MCDC is the most beloved new head coach in the NFL, but make no mistake: The 2023-24 Detroit Lions should’ve played in Super Bowl LVIII, and because of Campbell’s feloniously inebriated judgment on a couple of fourth-down calls to go for it, the franchise may never recover.
Detroit had the hosting San Francisco 49ers on the ropes with a 24-7 halftime lead. Campbell had a shot to take a field goal at the beginning of the third quarter to make the score 27-10. He could’ve trotted the field goal unit out again to tie the score at 27 apiece with seven and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter.
He refused to take the points either time. It cost the Lions dearly.
But no. Campbell had to, ya know, “STICK TO HIS GUNS” or whatever. That’s how you blow 17-point halftime leads and get 27 unanswered scored on your trash defense who was never going to hold up forever against a 49ers super team of skill position players, in spite of their pedestrian quarterback, Brock Purdy.
I swear to you. As somebody who hedged pretty hard on the Lions today — because of course Lamar Jackson choked away a Ravens-49ers Super Bowl matchup, OF COURSE he did — let me tell you as an objective observer that Dan Campbell cost Detroit a trip to Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII with his audacious stupidity.
Yes, Lions receiver Josh Reynolds had an awful drop. Yes, rookie tailback Jahmyr Gibbs had an awful fumble. And no, this probably wouldn’t have even been a game if Kindle Vidor could’ve squeezed the gift-wrapped interception that Purdy threw right to him.
Can we not have a nuanced discussion about this? For all the reactions I see making fun of how stupid-reckless Campbell was, there are almost an equal number of people DEFENDING his decision-making. Like, what?? Two things can be true at the same time. Dan Campbell is often a calculated, dice-rolling, risk-reward head coach whose bold calls and aggressive mindset rub off on the rest of his team and help them convert in high-leverage situations.
OK? I can acknowledge that. But. AND. And…
And. Can we not acknowledge that Campbell went for it on fourth down in two downright outrageous situations to do so on Championship Sunday, that cost his team six damn-near guaranteed points in a three-point loss? Is that too much for people to wrap their brains around? I guess it is.
Oh well. Good luck to you, Lions, in your efforts to get this deep in the playoffs ever again. Your brainiac offensive coordinator, Ben Johnson, is probably out the door as a head coach. Who’s the guy behind him? You’re gonna win this hard with Jared Goff going forward? Yeahmaybenot.
What’s more, real 2023 MVP Jordan Love — did I stutter? Not Lamar Jackson — is coming in your own NFC North division. If the Bears don’t botch the No. 1 overall pick, they should be rolling. And you can never count out “Captain” Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings as long as Kevin O’Connell is calling plays. Dude almost made it to the playoffs sans Cousins and with, like a bazillion different starting QBs.