How Dan Campbell’s Culture Change Helped the Lions Land DJ Chark

The Detroit Lions haven’t posted a winning record since 2017. Despite being a long way from fielding a winning football team, the franchise appears to be turning a corner, thanks to head coach Dan Campbell. A former player himself, Campbell understands how to get through to his guys. That’s the primary reason DJ Chark signed with the Lions in free agency.

The former tight end is heading into his second season at the helm, and he’s hoping to build on the minimal success his team enjoyed in 2021. Perhaps, if the Lions take a step forward in 2022, they’ll be able to convince other talented free agents to sign as well.

DJ Chark reveals the Lions were the best culture fit for him

Jaguars WR DJ Chark looks on before a game; Lions head coach Dan Campbell coaching on the sideline against the Eagles
DJ Chark of the Jacksonville Jaguars on the field before facing the Chicago Bears | James Gilbert/Getty Images; Dan Campbell of the Detroit Lions looks on during game against the Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions added a solid piece to their offense by signing DJ Chark in free agency. The former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver inked a one-year deal worth up to $13 million.

Chark spent the first four seasons of his NFL career in Jacksonville after the Jaguars selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The LSU product recorded 147 receptions for 2,042 yards and 15 touchdowns during that span. He earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2019 after posting his lone 1,000-yard campaign.

The Lions likely weren’t Chark’s only suitor, but they offered something that the 25-year-old wideout was looking for — culture.

“I had a few who wanted to do long-term deals, but it wasn’t the right fit,” Chark said per Lions Wire. “This was the right fit. I’m happy about my decision.”

Chark believes Dan Campbell has the team heading in the right direction.

“The games looked completely different,” he added. “I appreciated the hustle, the grit, and the way that they persevered and went from tying games to winning games and playing better. I truly appreciate the way this staff kept that team together and have faith in those guys. Know that means a lot to them, and I’m ready to be a part of it. I feel like it’s definitely a different feel than what I’ve been experiencing.”

Dan Campbell is the right coach to turn the franchise around

Detroit Lions fans have long been clamoring for a team they can root for, and Dan Campbell’s squad is certainly heading in the right direction.

Detroit finished with the second-worst record in the NFL in 2021. However, this wasn’t your regular Lions team. This was a competitive bunch, well beyond what the squad displayed in years past.

The Lions came close to adding a few more wins to their record. They lost six games by one possession and tied against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10. That competitive nature starts with the new head coach.

Campbell is a tough coach, but the players love his demeanor, and they clearly respond well to him. Even though Detroit didn’t win many games, the team played with heart and had a winning mentality.

Many believe the Lions are just an unlucky franchise, but Dan Campbell hopes to reverse their fortune.

Detroit will still need to improve to become an attractive landing spot

DJ Chark was an excellent get for the Lions. While not an elite wide receiver, he could add a different dimension to a receiving corps that also features Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds. Chark came from the worst team in the Jaguars to the second-worst. However, he suggests there’s a world of difference between the two squads.

The former Jaguars star is just one player, though. Detroit hasn’t exactly been a prime destination for free agents. The franchise has a loyal fan base, but the on-field product has given it much to cheer about over the years.

The Lions have never won a Super Bowl, and they’re a long way from even sniffing one. The 2022 season is pivotal for Dan Campbell’s crew. Nobody expects anything from this team, but incremental improvement could go a long way.

If Campbell and company can muster up a few more wins and continue to prove winning is the goal, players might feel more inclined to consider playing in Detroit (as crazy as it sounds).

All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

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