Lions new head coach Dan Campbell proves to be the draw Saints GM predicted
When the Detroit Lions announced Dan Campbell as the team’s next head coach, team president Rod Wood shared a conversation with Mickey Loomis.
The Saints general manager, who had spent the past five seasons working with Campbell in New Orleans, told Wood, “Dan is the kind of head coach that coaches are going to run to Detroit and want to be on his staff.”
Three weeks later, with Campbell’s coaching staff largely in place, a handful of those assistants are validating Loomis’ reference.
Duce Staley, who jumped ship after 10 years in Philadelphia and reportedly had interest from other teams, noted Campbell’s energy as a lure to Detroit.
"Just thinking about Detroit, and getting the call from Coach Campbell, I mean, he was super excited on the phone,” Staley said.” I felt the energy through the phone. And then (defensive coordinator) Aaron Glenn, he was like, 'Hey man, we're building something special here. We want you to be a part of it.' And when I got those two phone calls, man, I'm telling you, after being in Philadelphia for so long, each year I would get phone calls or opportunities to see what was out there, interest from other clubs of course, but when those two guys reached out to me, it felt good, it felt right, and I was happy to be a part of this and I couldn't wait to get here."
Glenn, who will be a first-time coordinator in Detroit, followed Campbell from New Orleans. Their careers have followed similar paths, and overlapped on multiple occasions, so Glenn didn’t have to think twice when the opportunity presented itself.
“Well, first thing is we're both Aggies,” Glenn said, referencing that both he and Campbell played at Texas A&M. “So we have that relationship. The next thing is we played together in Dallas for a year. Then we had a chance to coach together for five years in New Orleans. So me and Dan have had many conversations, just about football.
"Just being with him all these years, you get a chance to know the man, more than the football coach," Glenn continued. "I'm attracted to more than the man than the football coach, to be honest with you. You just know, the type of person he is, he's going to bring in the right guys. I think he made this statement, you think about the person first, before the coach. Right? It just so happens that every person he brought on are damn good coaches. That just speaks to the integrity of him, what he thinks about first is the person. Because this is a relationship business. He's done a good job of doing that.”
Campbell has placed a premium on character when building his staff. In an interview with The Detroit News earlier this month, he said he wouldn't settle for one or the other when it comes to his coaches being good at their job or a good person.
"I swore up and down that I was not going to, if I got in this seat again, I refused, even if he's an outstanding person, which I know plenty of them, an outstanding person who coaches, but he's an average coach, I'm not doing it," Campbell said. That's how you create average players. These were going to be top-notch people who were top-notch coaches, across the board.
"These guys, they're going to know how to develop talent and they're outstanding human beings," Campbell added. "I have not brought in one guy that I've said, 'Outstanding coach, he's OK as a guy.' That's not happened one time. It's gotta be both, man."
Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn fits that mold. When the Los Angeles Chargers fired Lynn this offseason, team owner Dean Spanos went out of his way to praise the coach in a statement, calling him the most respected coach in the league.
Lynn, briefly overlapped with Campbell during stints in Dallas. Lynn was coaching the team’s running backs, while Campbell was in the early stages of his 10-year playing career. Reconnecting in Detroit 15 years later was an easy decision for Lynn.
"In a lot of ways he's the same, because he's a hard worker and highly competitive,” Lynn said. “He's a high-character man, you know, that's the reason why I'm here, is Dan Campbell. I have all the respect in the world for him. I watched him as a player and grow and develop into a coach, and now a head coach, I couldn't be more excited to be here and serve him as his offensive coordinator."