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Expectations finally meet reality for Dan Campbell

Dan Campbell knows that he does not have the talent to compete, let alone win a single game with this Detroit Lions roster. He knows this even if he doesn’t verbalize it because his facial expressions tell the whole story.

Throughout the first five games of the season, the Detroit Lions looked competitive. They resembled a team that was playing hard for themselves and their coach. And that’s even when they were playing from behind.

That wasn’t the case on Sunday.

The Lions had their teeth kicked the entire game during their 34-11 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. To his credit, Dan Campbell accepted the blame for it. After all, he is the head coach. And like he said, when a team gets whipped like that, the responsibility has to fall on him.

At the same time, Lions fans are growing tired of hearing that. The reason is that after six weeks, he’s starting to sound like a broken record. And the big question is, at what point does he criticize his players for their performance? Yes, he did a little bit of that immediately after Sunday’s loss, but when does he hold their feet to the fire?

During his Monday afternoon press conference, Campbell acknowledged the difficulties of balancing criticism and deflecting blame to his players. 

“The players know. They’re being told, and they realize it,” said Campbell. “They know when they mess up, and they’re being held accountable as far as that’s concerned, but I also do believe that we have a hand in it. We have a huge hand in this.”

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell
Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell during action against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021 at Ford Field. Lions Cinn Sad Detroit Lions

As a coach, Campbell has improved over the last few weeks. 

He fixed mistakes from late-game coaching decisions after several Lions losses. He’s learning to pick his spots between kicking a field goal and trying to convert on 4th down. And lastly, along with offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, they made better choices in short-yardage situations. 

So what is the deal? Why aren’t the Detroit Lions able to register a single win? Even with a depleted and talent-devoid roster, it’s a mystery––one that Campbell is trying to solve.

“At the end of the day, no matter what the record is, no matter how bad things may seem, somebody is going to line up across from you,” said Campbell. “And if that doesn’t give you enough juice to want to win and to beat them in your 1-on-1, then you’re in the wrong business.”

As mentioned, Dan Campbell has corrected his mistakes from week to week as a coach. Now it’s time for his players to look in the mirror and fix theirs. 

Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.

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