Lions ex-coordinator Anthony Lynn complimentary of coach Campbell, owner Hamp
It didn't work out in Detroit for Anthony Lynn, but in an interview with Woodward Sports this week, the former Lions offensive coordinator was highly complimentary of his former boss Dan Campbell, as well as team owner Sheila Ford Hamp.
Lynn credited Campbell's leadership with holding the locker room together through the team's three-win season in 2021, all while laying a cultural foundation that will lead to future success.
"I can tell you that. Dan Campbell did a hell of a job creating a culture," Lynn said. "I know the record didn't show it, but a foundation is being laid for future success in Detroit. ... It was outstanding leadership. Those young men showed up every single day to work and to get better, and I feel like they got better as the year went on. We had a long ways to go, but I did feel like we made some improvements."
Fired after four years as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers last offseason, Lynn said he didn't know much about Detroit when he accepted the Lions coordinator position. The decision to come aboard was rooted in what he knew about the incoming leadership group.
Lynn had been familiar with the work of general manager Brad Holmes and assistant general manager Ray Agnew, who had helped build a winning roster and culture with the crosstown Rams, plus Lynn had been an assistant coach on teams Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn played on during their careers.
Lynn continues to hold all four in high regard, but also leaves Detroit with a newfound respect for Lions ownership.
"It was easy for me to come here and work with those two young men (Holmes and Glenn) and try to help them build something special here, which I believe they're going to get done," Lynn said. "I know people keep saying it's the same old, same old, but when I got here, I was so impressed with this ownership. Sheila is doing a heck of a job giving the Lions everything they need right now to be successful. And I do believe Dan and AG, they're laying a foundation right now for future success here and I fully expect that."
Lynn also continued to show his support for quarterback Jared Goff. When asked if the Lions could win with their current starting quarterback, Lynn quickly pointed to Goff's success with the Rams, which included a trip to the Super Bowl.
"They absolutely can win with Jared Goff," Lynn said.
Lynn and the Lions parted ways the day after the season ended. The separation was months in the making after Campbell had taken over play-calling duties from the coordinator midseason.
"I just think it wasn't a fit," Campbell said. "You want it to be, but I think we just never found our groove or our rhythm, if you will. It's hard to really pinpoint. Sometimes it just doesn't work out the way you want."
The Lions' offense unquestionably improved after the switch, but it's difficult to directly compare the situations. As Lynn pointed out in the interview, the team got left tackle Taylor Decker back from injury and added receivers Josh Reynolds off waivers in the second half. And it wasn't until late in the year that rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown truly started to blossom.
The Lions have since promoted tight ends coach Ben Johnson to replace Lynn, while the former OC landed a new job, where he'll be an assistant head coach to Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. Lynn played for Shanahan's father in Denver and has maintained a close relationship with the family over the years.
There, Lynn will have a chance to work with one of the league's promising young quarterback prospects, Trey Lance. The 49ers aggressively traded up to the No. 3 pick a year ago to select Lance and there's a growing expectation the team will move starter Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason to pave the way for Lance to take over the job.
Lynn didn't weigh in on Garoppolo's future with the franchise, but had some interesting comments about Lance's skill set which seemed to run counter to the coach's sentiments about Goff.
"Just watching him in college, he's big, strong, he's intelligent and he extends plays," Lynn said. "In this league right now, I've said if you're not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning — a guy that can stand back there and pick you apart, know where you're going with the football before the ball is even snapped — you better have someone that can move around a little bit and get away from these 4.4 (-second) defensive ends. These guys are not 300 pounds running 5.0 flat anymore. These guys are like the Von Millers of the world. You need a quarterback that can create a little bit in those situations. It's big-time like that to have a guy like that on your team."
Goff, meanwhile, will never be confused as a dual-threat, having rushed for 401 yards in six seasons after being clocked at 4.82 seconds in his 40-yard dash coming out of Cal. That's nearly identical to the time posted by former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Not surprisingly, Lynn didn't share any thoughts about what the Lions might do in free agency or the draft.
"Well, that ain't my problem anymore," he said with a smile. "I'm just worried about what the 49ers are going to do now."