Lions close to hiring Dan Campbell as head coach

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The Detroit Lions are close to hiring Saints assistant head coach and tight ends coach Dan Campbell as their new head coach, according to multiple media reports.

The two sides must still work out a deal but “it is not considered an obstacle,” ESPN reported. Campbell was not eligible to agree to a deal until the Saints’ season ended, which happened with a 30-20 loss to the Bucs on Sunday night in the divisional playoffs.

Sources tell The Athletic’s Chris Burke that Campbell is expected in Detroit early this week for a second, in-person interview. As was the case with new general manager Brad Holmes, the Lions prefer to get Campbell in the building before completing his contract. Their offices are scheduled to be closed Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Campbell, 44, joined the Saints in 2016 after six seasons with the Dolphins, the last five as tight ends coach. In 2015, he took over as Miami’s interim head coach after Joe Philbin was fired, going 5-7.

He also spent 10 seasons in the NFL as a player, including three with Detroit from 2006-08.

The Lions fired coach Matt Patricia in November after Detroit lost 41-25 to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving. Patricia went 13-29-1 in three seasons in Detroit.

Why Campbell?
Chris Burke, Lions beat writer: After three seasons of strife under Patricia, the Lions made it their utmost priority to reestablish some sense of positive “culture,” and that has to be the main reason behind Campbell’s hire. He’s a well-respected former player (and former Lion) who, at the very least, should help Detroit heal its fractured locker room.

Plus, the Lions interviewed two members of the Saints’ organization (Terry Fontenot and Jeff Ireland) for their GM opening, then targeted Campbell for head coach. They clearly respect how New Orleans operates.

How Campbell would fit
Burke: A glaring unknown about Campbell is in his actual coaching acumen. He had a 12-game stint as the Dolphins’ interim coach in 2012, so he has run the show for an extended period. But he’s never served as a coordinator nor has he been a full-time head coach.

What sort of philosophies will he bring, and how will they fit the Lions’ current roster? Hard to say right now. The Lions, though, found at least some success under more of a “players’ coach” in Jim Caldwell, and Campbell should push them back in that direction after the ill-fated Patricia era.

What’s next for the Lions?
Burke: Campbell’s coordinator hires will be extremely important. It’s possible he may try to keep on offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who was another candidate for the head-coaching role and served as interim head coach after Patricia was fired. Would Bevell take a step back into his old position? Otherwise, things look wide open because: A) Campbell has a ton of connections from his playing and coaching days, and B) his preferred schemes are unknown. The Saints’ staff does have multiple potential coordinators on it, including defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn and wide receivers coach Ronald Curry.

Campbell and Holmes also have to kick-start their offseason in a hurry. The Lions have several critical roster decisions to make — Kenny Golladay? Matthew Stafford? — and a top-10 draft pick.

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