Detroit wrapped up the regular season in thrilling fashion, knocking off the Green Bay Packers 37-30. Dan Campbell dialed up one gem after another and unveiled all sorts of trick plays. After the bye week, the head coach who took over play-calling duties has since announced that offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will be departing. With that staffing change now official, the Lions have started their offseason by making one big, correct decision.
Lynn didn’t exactly have a full cupboard to work with this season in Detroit, but the results for an offense led by Jared Goff were even worse than expected. While it certainly can’t all be put on Lynn’s shoulders, his play calling left a lot to be desired. Campbell took over after the bye week, and things got off to a less-than-ideal start with him pushing the buttons. By year’s end, though, the Lions had discovered an identity based around taking chances, and it culminated in better results. Keeping Lynn around would’ve been doing both sides a disservice.
Lynn will likely get another gig if he desires, one where he doesn’t just have the title. There was no point in keeping him around with the offensive coordinator label but not having him call the plays. Campbell knew it, Lynn knew it, and the Lions knew it. Campbell may not be the answer — that much is yet to be determined — but keeping Lynn around wasn’t going to solve anything. On Monday, Campbell made the announcement.
“Felt like this is just best for both of us,” Campbell said. “Look, he came here, took a leap of faith with us under the impression that he would be calling the plays. And so it was not going to go that direction. Again, that’s not fair to him either. I wish him the best. He’s been a true pro, he works his tail off, and he gave us everything he had. So I appreciate him for that.”
While Campbell acknowledged it wasn’t going to work out with Lynn calling plays, he also didn’t commit to being the play-caller himself moving forward.
“Everything’s got to start with, somewhat, me deciding what I want to do. Do I want to continue to call—‘want to’ is not the right word. What I think is best for us and as a team, and I need time to think about that,” Campbell said.
It’s one big, looming decision for an offense that will enter the offseason with some structure but many missing links as well.
Goff isn’t going to be the long-term franchise pillar at quarterback. He may be the QB1 next year for Detroit, but the future beyond that is murky. This year, they discovered a couple of gems for whoever they do install as their next franchise QB.
Amon-Ra St. Brown was incredible in the second half of the season. He capitalized as an increasing number of opportunities came his way. The rookie fourth-round selection will enter next year as no worse than the No. 2 wideout on the depth chart.
D’Andre Swift was banged up again this year, but when he’s on the field and healthy, he’s a dynamic running back who the Lions can use in both the ground game and out of the backfield as a receiver.
It’d be foolish to go any further without mentioning T.J. Hockenson and Penei Sewell as well. Hockenson was having a great year before it ended abruptly with an injury, and Sewell got increasingly more comfortable on the offensive line as the season wore on. It’s not a perfect picture in Detroit. But there’s a lot to be optimistic about for whoever is calling plays in the future.
As for Lynn, he kept it short, sweet, and to the point.
While it seems like a setback for Lynn, it will also be the right move for his career. Sticking around with the title but having the primary duties stripped away wouldn’t help his trajectory. While the writing was on the wall for all sides, it still wasn’t guaranteed to go down this way. Now that it’s official, Lions fans can relax a bit knowing they got the first big decision of the offseason correct.
Detroit not only ended the season on a high note with a win, but the offense was explosive, putting up a whopping 37 points. It’s a big stretch to expect momentum from Week 18 of this year to carry into next season, but it’s a sign of all the untapped potential within this offense. Now the Lions need to take the time to consider whether Campbell or someone new should assume play-calling duties.