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8-18 Media: Is it Groundhog Day again for the Lions?

BODHI WHITE, 16

School is starting. We have just had the hottest summer that I can remember. Despite the heat, football players across the nation are hitting the gridiron. Football is really coming. The question right now is what are the Detroit Lions doing?

The Detroit Lions have been “rebuilding” for more than half a century and it continued for 3 monotonous and hopeless seasons under head coach, Matt Patricia. The Lions have cleaned house and hired a new coach. It is a new beginning that does not feel new. It is more like we are going through Bill Murray’s nightmare in Groundhog’s Day. Will Dan Campbell’s leadership be just another repeat of past failures? Don’t get me wrong. I agree that cleaning house was the best and only option. The team’s core was aging and the days of Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh, and Matt Stafford were squandered by bad coaching and mismanagement. It was time to move on and that’s what the Lions did.

The Lions did a head coaching search over the off season and they decided on a former New Orleans Saints tight end coach to lead the new era. This decision seemed like a weird choice because going from tight end coach to a head coach is a big leap. Who knows? Maybe the big leap will break the cycle and put the Lions on top. His “bite off the kneecaps” speech was a sharp contrast to Matt Patricia’s wanna-be Bill Belichick dryness. I have never heard a coach at the pro level say something that out of pocket. He seems so aggressive that he might not sign a kicker because he’s gonna go for two points after every touchdown. He gives off the energy of a guns blazing “say hello to my little friend” kind of leader.

Seriously though, I am intrigued by this coach. He seems passionate and he is ballsy. His brashness was shown in neon when he walked in as the interim coach of the 2015 Miami Dolphins. He fired the defensive coordinator and promoted the defensive backs coach. He then switched up the players’ lockers to break up cliques the players had formed. Finally, he started the team’s first practice under his leadership with the infamous Oklahoma drill. The team then went on to finish the season stronger than they started.

Another thing that struck me about Dan Campbell is that in his first press conference he said “I am not a system guy… let’s put our guys in the best position to have success. That’s what I’m about.” I really like that. I am tired of NFL coaches always following a scheme that is just the current fashion. I’d rather the coach just look at the players they have and make a system that fits the team and exploits their talents.

Finally, the players on the team seem to like Campbell. Campbell’s former Dolphins players have also said they liked him. Matt Patricia was not a popular guy in the locker room and he drove away good players like Darius Slay. Maybe under Campbell’s regime, the whole team won’t want to demand a trade.

Will we feel like we are still caught in Bill Murray’s Groundhog’s day nightmare, 3-4 years down the road? Possibly? Or, will Dan Campbell be the man who can lead the Lions to their first ever Super Bowl? I might be indulging in a little wishful thinking, but we will see. Even if Campbell’s 2021 season ends at 5-11, I am still curious that he could be the messiah who can break the Lions out of their cycle of mediocrity.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bodhi White, 16, is a junior and plays varsity football.

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