Detroit Lions and Dan Campbell have one big hire left to make: Offensive coordinator

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
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Play calling experience is nice, but new Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell said that is far from the only thing he is looking for in his offensive coordinator.

"What’s more important than anything to me as far as an offensive coordinator is someone that I believe has the vision of the offense kind of the way I do," Campbell said at his introductory news conference Thursday. "Just in regards to, listen, I’m not going to get hung up on what you want to call the terminology, I’m not going to get hung up on the style of system that you want to put in. I’m more into, 'Man, show me what are the nuts and bolts that you believe in.' "

Campbell said he has interviewed at least four candidates for both the offensive and defensive coordinator positions.

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The Lions are expected to hire New Orleans Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn as their defensive coordinator, and have three known candidates for the OC job: Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban, former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn and Buffalo Bills quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey.

Lynn went 33-31 in four seasons with the Chargers, were he worked with expected Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert. Dorsey, a former NFL quarterback, currently works with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford's brother-in-law, Chad Hall, in Buffalo, where he helped make third-year quarterback Josh Allen into an MVP candidate.

Bills quarterback's coach Ken Dorsey with Josh Allen and Tyree Jackson.

NFL Network reported Wednesday that Urban, who has spent the past three seasons working with 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson, has interviewed for the job.

Campbell, who played 11 NFL seasons as a tight end and has spent most of the last decade coaching the position, said he wants balance on offense, and said his overall coaching philosophy is "to run a system that puts our best on your worst."

"We’re going to find a way to put our guys in one-on-one matchups, whether it’s run or pass," Campbell said. "If you’re telling me that our left tackle is better than your right end and we can run outside zone all day, we’re going to run outside zone as long as we can cut off the back side. Why not? If we can exploit a weakness, we’re going to do it."

The assistant head coach of the New Orleans Saints the past five seasons, Campbell has been around offenses that have consistently ranked in the top five of the NFL in points per game.

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The Saints finished sixth in rushing offense this season, and 19th in passing offense, but were a predominantly pass-first attack in 2016-19.

"Look, I don’t want a coordinator who’s going to throw the ball 60 times a game, 50 times a game," Campbell said. "That’s not what I’m looking for. On the flip side of that, I’m not looking for somebody to run it 50 times a game.

"I know there’s this preconceived notion about me. Of course, I want to run the football, cause there’s a mentality about it, there’s a physicality about it. It makes you better defensively as well, when you do it against yourself in practice. But ultimately, man, I want to find the best guy for the job that fits what I want to do and fits what we’re trying to do here and put our guys in the best situation to have success."

Defensively, Glenn, a former NFL cornerback who played at Campbell's alma mater, Texas A&M, and with Campbell with the Dallas Cowboys, has never been a play caller in the NFL and had talked to people around the league about joining him as a senior defensive assistant in Detroit, to add experience to his staff.

New Orleans Saints assistant coach Aaron Glenn gestures to players in the second half against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 25, 2020 in New Orleans.

Campbell joked Thursday he was "actually getting ready to hire two guys and then I had to come do this press conference." About an hour after his news conference ended, ESPN reported the Lions' expected deal with Glenn had been finalized.

"As soon as I get out of here, I’m taking this jacket and this tie off, I’m putting on my Lions gear and I’m going to work," Campbell said. "I’m going to be on the phone, I’m going to be on my laptop and we’re going to be going."

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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