The Detroit Lions have never won a Super Bowl, and they haven’t made the playoffs since 2016. They also haven’t won a game in the 2021 NFL season. Still, could there be a reason for excitement moving forward? The simple answer is yes. Dan Campbell is already making progress in his first season as head coach.
Despite the unfortunate luck, these are not the same Detroit Lions.
The Detroit Lions may be the most competitive 0-7 team ever
The Detroit Lions are sitting at 0-7, heading into a Week 8 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. Their record doesn’t necessarily tell the entire story, though.
These Lions aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Three of the team’s seven losses have been one-possession games. Detroit has also played a pretty tough schedule up to this point, with games against the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Los Angeles Rams.
Speaking of the Rams, the Lions held their own against one of the most formidable teams in the NFC. Dan Campbell coached a great game. He pulled out all the stops against Sean McVay, including an onside kick and two converted fake punts.
Ultimately, talent prevailed for the Rams, but Detroit had the heart of a lion. That’s been a common theme for this team in 2021. The Lions clearly won’t be the most talented team on the football field, in most cases. However, they don’t back down from anyone.
Early on, it appeared Dan Campbell might be in over his head trying to right the ship in Detroit. However, as time goes on, he’s looking more and more like the right man for the job.
Dan Campbell has the Lions playing inspired football
The Detroit Lions hired Dan Campbell ahead of the 2021 season, signing him to a six-year contract. Campbell transitioned to Detroit after spending the last five seasons with the New Orleans Saints as their assistant head coach and tight ends coordinator.
Campbell also played in the NFL for ten seasons, three of which were for the Lions. He’s a first-time head coach, but everyone has to start somewhere. The 45-year-old got off to quite the start, too.
Campbell’s first press conference as head coach of the Lions was memorable, to say the least.
“This team is going to take on the identity of this city,” said Campbell. “This city’s been down, and it found a way to get up… We’re going to kick you in the teeth, and when you punch us back, we’re going to smile at you. And when you knock us down, we’re going to get up. On the way up, we’re going to bite a kneecap.”
Campbell continued his rant, but those words were captivating. His statement was so wild that it was difficult to enter the 2021 season and not think about how the Lions would perform.
Just looking at Detroit’s roster, you’d think this is the worst team in the NFL. Well, that may be true. But, it seems like this team has more heart than other teams that are better than the Lions on paper. That’s the Dan Campbell magic.
It may take a while, but Campbell can right the ship
Don’t blame Dan Campbell for the 0-7 start to the 2021 season. It was impossible to turn the Detroit Lions into an overnight success story.
The Lions are devoid of talent in comparison to the rest of the league. You wouldn’t be able to tell by how they fought tooth and nail with the LA Rams for most of the game.
Campbell has found a way to pull the most out of his players. The energy and passion he exhibits are unmatched. Although unconventional, his leadership style has players willing to run through a brick wall for him.
No one expected Detroit to be good in 2021. However, no one expected them to be competitive, either, but they are. Rookie offensive tackle Penei Sewell went toe-to-toe with Rams Pro Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald, held his own, and didn’t back down.
The Lions’ front office has a boatload of work to do to become relevant again. Still, a young core of Sewell, D’Andre Swift, T.J. Hockenson, and Julian Okwara is a decent start.
As hard as this team fights, it’s difficult to imagine Detroit going winless in 2021. The wins will be few and far between, but Dan Campbell is already leaving his mark on a franchise in full rebuild mode.