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Duce Staley can fix a big problem in Detroit

Dan Campbell wants Duce Staley to succeed.

He made that clear in early March during a scouting combine press conference. In his words, Staley was not going to be a “token assistant head coach.” Proof of that glared Tuesday afternoon as the Lions kicked off their mandatory minicamp. 

As most would expect, coaches are all business as things begin to ramp up. They’re yelling, grilling players, and all over the field barking out orders. After all, how else will they get the best out of their players, right?

Well, that was Duce Staley and then some. 

Staley carries the reputation of being tough on his players and very demanding. He didn’t take it easy on his them either during some bag drills, putting his running backs through the wringer.

Staley yelled at Jamaal Williams to show him what he has, applauding him several times over as Williams provided what he demanded. As Williams, D’Andre Swift, Jason Cabinda, and several others completed their drills, Staley delivered a message to his running backs, detaling clear expectations.

Staley did not let up on Williams or Swift that whole afternoon.

Being fair to both players, they seemingly knocked their drills out of the park. It was apparent by Staley’s expression afterwards. However, his attention to detail on how the routines were being run, especially by Swift, was evident. Staley showcased that he’s a perfectionist.

And he isn’t accepting anything less than his players’ best. 

It didn’t stop there either. No, no, no.

When it came to the 7-on-7 drills, Duce Staley backed up another notion made by Dan Campbell. And that’s the trash-talking on the field within the coaching staff. On this afternoon, he was the loudest of any coach on the field.

As the cool kids would say, he had “bars” for anyone on the defense if the offense made them look silly. He was extra loud over a few catches made by Jason Cabinda. While it was hard to make out his exact phrase, it was something to the gist of “this is what we do.”

The Lions have been one of the NFL’s worst rushing teams for quite some time. Only twice since 2003 have the Lions ranked higher than 20th in rushing. In 2004, they ranked 18th, and in 2013, they were 17th. 

During last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, Staley did an exceptional job with their rushing attack. The Eagles were 10th in rushing, averaging 126.7 yards per game. The season before that? They were 11th, averaging 121.1 yards per game. Staley is looking to duplicate that success in Detroit, but he’ll have his work cut out for him.

If he can groom the Lions’ running backs corps to top-15, don’t expect him to be in Motown much longer. And if Dan Campbell has his way, he’ll gladly let him leave. Remember, Campbell’s own words, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton paid it forward to him by given him a fair shot.

Now it’s his turn to pay it forward to Staley.

Photo credit: Kory Woods

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