Winning in the NFL is hard. There’s not one right recipe to put together a Super Bowl caliber team, and every team does things a little differently.
It is my opinion that there ARE in fact ingredients that rank higher than others when you’re breaking down all the parts of an elite team.
Some might say talent. Sure. Talent is really important, and you wouldn’t be able to make it deep into the playoffs without some of the most talented players in the league.
Others might say it’s strategy. This is also true. If your coordinators are calling plays that put your guys in the best position, you set yourself up nicely to win a lot of football games.
TO ME HOWEVER, one of if not the MOST important pieces to a Super Bowl caliber team is culture.
Enter Dan Campbell. When he was initially hired by the Lions back in 2021, the expectations were very clear. Dan Campbell will change the culture of one of the worst professional sports franchises of the modern era to that of winning, excellence, and competitiveness.
You see, Dan Campbell was never any sort of offensive genius. Sure, he played as a tight end in the NFL, and was even a position coach of the aforementioned role, but it was really his ability to motivate that got Detroit’s attention.
With a franchise as poorly run as the Lions, it was going to take a true leader of men to turn the ship around to a winning direction, and let me tell you. From his introductory press conference, he did not disappoint.
The Results are on the Field – Year 1
Lions Record in 2021: 3-13-1
Now, year one was really rough. You could tell there was a different vibe about the club house, but the on-the-field-results still weren’t there. HOWEVER, they did make some pretty franchise building additions to the roster.
- QB Jared Goff (trade)
- OT Penei Sewell (draft)
- WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (draft)
Lions Record in 2022: 9-8
Year two showed a ton of promise for this organization, and really showed off the leadership abilities of Dan Campbell.
The team once again had an absolute monster of a draft, adding these key players:
- DE Aidan Hutchinson
- WR Jameson Williams
- LB Malcolm Rodriguez
Lions Record in 2023: 12-5
What an incredible year this was for the Detroit Lions. All 3 phases of the ball were clicking, and they just seemed to get better and better as the year went on.
They clinched their first playoff birth since 2016, and the first time EVER clinching the NFC North.
They won in dramatic fashion against the Rams in the wild card, which was a revenge game for both Goff and Stafford.
They then went on to beat the Bucs in the divisional, which would send them to their first NFC Championship game since the 1991 season.
Unfortunately, there’s where their luck ran short. They played a great first half against the 49ers, but unfortunately pretty much every aspect of their game collapsed during the second half.
Even though the loss was a hard pill to swallow for Lions fans, there’s no denying the franchise altering effect that Dan Campbell has had on this team, organization, and city.
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