Detroit Lions gamers defended head coach Dan Campbell after he confronted a wave of criticism for his fourth-down decision-making within the staff’s NFC Championship sport loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
“Like I say each time I get requested that query, Dan is one of the best coach within the league,” Lions working again David Montgomery mentioned when questioned concerning the selections, by way of The Detroit Information. “Each name that he makes, we belief and we’re behind him. Each name that he’s made is the appropriate name.”
Montgomery’s feedback come after Campbell made two controversial fourth-down selections Sunday, forgoing two probably makeable area objective alternatives in favor of going for it. The Lions would premature lose the sport 34-31 after failing to get better an onside kick within the sport’s ultimate minute.
The primary happened halfway by means of the third quarter with the Lions holding a 24-10 lead, going through a fourth-and-2 from the 49ers 28-yard line. As a substitute of kicking a 35-yard area objective, Campbell opted to maintain the offense on the sphere, leading to a dropped go by vast receiver Josh Reynolds that may have resulted in a primary down.
The second got here halfway by means of the fourth quarter, with the Lions trailing by three. Confronted with a fourth-and-3 from the 49ers 30-yard line, Campbell as soon as once more opted to maintain the offense on the sphere, leading to an incomplete go and one other turnover on downs.
These strikes have been broadly panned by critics, together with Outkick’s Dan Dakich, who mentioned Campbell made “career-changing” errors within the sport.
“Victory favors the staff making the fewest errors,” the “Don’t @ Me” host mentioned of the choices. “He made a career-changing mistake. And it was a easy transfer – kick the sphere objective, no momentum.”
Campbell additionally confronted warmth on social media, with NFL followers and commentators taking to X to voice disgust with the choices.
“Dan Campbell is an absolute dumba–. They will’t blame anyone however him in the event that they lose,” NESN’s Kendra Middleton wrote.
“I do know Dan Campbell whole philosophy is to go for it however I imply… I am shocked,” Barstool Sports activities’ Dave Portnoy mentioned.
However Lions gamers had a distinct opinion, popping out in protection of their coach. A type of gamers was Reynolds, who dropped the go on the primary failed fourth-down try.
“He known as it as a result of he totally anticipated us to get it. So did we, however, execution (failed),” Reynolds mentioned, in line with the Detroit Information report. “You don’t wanna lose. And shedding to go to the Tremendous Bowl, I imply, it makes it that a lot worse.”
One other defender of Campbell was Lions quarterback Jared Goff, who mentioned he “beloved” the choices made during the game.
“I beloved them… we didn’t join. I’ll throw a greater ball subsequent time.”
Campbell has change into well-known in NFL circles for his aggressive nature throughout his tenure with the Lions, a pattern that confirmed no indicators of slowing down through the 2023 season. Through the common season, the Lions tried to go for it on fourth down and fewer than three yards 21 occasions, changing 16 (76.1%) of these alternatives.
In the meantime, the staff additionally confronted query marks on the kicker place all season, with present kicker Michael Badgley solely being promoted from the staff’s observe squad after week 14.
For his half, Campbell instructed reporters after the loss that he didn’t “remorse” his fourth-down decision-making.
“I simply felt actually good about us changing,” Campbell mentioned. “And getting our momentum and never letting them play lengthy ball. They have been bleeding the clock out – that’s what they do – and I wished to get the higher hand again.”