Dan Campbell: 'We’re built to handle this'
The Detroit Lions are one game from the Super Bowl.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Greetings from Lions Country, where Dan Campbell has a perpetually cursed franchise on the precipice of the Super Bowl. There was no magic-wand moment. Campbell and GM Brad Holmes have pulled this off the old-fashioned way, signing and drafting players with a very specific DNA.
These seven-point underdogs fully believe they’ll continue to roll in San Francisco, too.
All coaches dream of building a football team on grit, but the Lions bring real bite to the cliche. We’ll have a story Friday AM for subscribers.
In the meantime, here’s what Campbell had to say on Wednesday with Lions features past linked below.
“This will be an outstanding test for us,” he said at the top, “but it’s one we’re ready for. So, we’re built to handle this and this will be an outstanding game. On the road, our guys are going to be ready to roll.”
On where the Lions start when it comes to slowing down the 49ers offense: “You stop the run. You’ve got to stop the run because if you don’t, they’ll rush for 250 on you and then they won’t even worry about passing. Everything has to start there. Shanahan does an unbelievable job of — he’s going to work one side and make you overreact and then he counters off of it and then he play-passes off of it and works the middle of the field. You’ve got your hands full in both regards. And Purdy does a hell of a job. They throw a lot of daggers in the middle of the field, and he does a hell of a job with touch, timing, rhythm, but we have to stop this run game. It just has to start there. As much as you can, you have to try to make this team one-dimensional and that’s not easy to do.”
On Jared Goff playing for an NFC title in his hometown: “I feel great about Goff. He’s the least of my concerns. He’s going to be just fine. For him, he’s done this before. He understands it. We’re back on the road, and it’ll be a loud environment. But, man, we’ve been in some big games on the road over the last year and a half and he’s performed well. And look, we threw a ton on him last week (against Tampa Bay). And I know it was at home, but we put a lot on his plate. As advanced as that defense was, all the different things they do, that required that he take on a heavy load to get us in the right play, find the matchups, read coverage and he was outstanding with that. And so, he’s going to be fine. He’s going to be ready to go, so I’m not worried about that.”
On how the Lions will block out all of the noise into such a big game: “I think in some regards, this may actually be easier on our guys. These two home games, which have been phenomenal, you’ve got a lot of — I know a lot of our players had family and friends that came in and there’s a lot of tension being pulled when they go home at the evenings and the games, getting ready and I thought we handled that really well. Whereas now… there will be some guys that are from Cali. But all in all, I think it can actually be a little bit less stressful on our guys from the outside. But I think it’s no different than anything else. We talk about it every week, just – you’ve got to put all that behind you. You can’t let that be the main thing. Your focus has got to be on this gameplan, this opponent because the most important thing is that your teammate knows that you’re going to handle your business. And it’s not about the outside things. I mean, here we are, this is the biggest issue right now. (Looking around press room) Most of the time I come in here and there’s what? I don’t know, 20 of you. And now there’s a whole packed room, people I don’t even recognize. And that’s what our players are dealing with. It’s all the extra attention outside of the norm. That’s the issue. It’s not the opponent. It has its own issues that we’ll deal with, but it’s all the outside attention and where they’re getting pulled from every area. You’ve got friends, you’ve got family reaching out: ‘Oh, unbelievable, you guys are here again.’ And: ‘You’re such a phenomenal player, you’re a phenomenal coach, you’re a phenomenal GM.’ And pretty soon if you forget that it’s us and it’s about the team, I think that’s always the challenge this time of year when you get in these type of games and settings.”
On how being a member of the 0-16 Lions in 2008 gives him perspective on this moment: “I really don’t want to go into depth about all that. I got hurt early. I wasn’t around for the whole year. But it’s one of those where you can’t get out of your own way. You just continue to find ways to lose, unfortunately. And it always comes down to just the little things and everybody doing the little things and it comes down to the right people everywhere — across the board. You’re always going to learn lessons over time, no matter where you’ve been. The good and the bad. And some of the best lessons you learn are when things don’t go right. And so, I’ve been fortunate to see it all. I’ve seen it all. Been at the lowest and I’ve been at the highest and you learn along the way. And that helps, right? It helps, so I’m glad we’re not there anymore.”
On the state of his Lions defense: “We’re disruptive. We’re aggressive and we hit. And that, to me, has got to be what we’re about. Those are the principles. Look, we may get hit on a couple of things and I know, for me, I’m willing to give up something to get something. And sometimes you’ve got to — things may happen, but that’s OK because it’ll pay dividends by the time you hit the fourth quarter and I think that’s what we’re doing. I think it is a salty group. They play hard, they’re pretty sound and we’re competitive. I think (Lions DC Aaron Glenn) AG’s done a hell of a job of mixing things up. We’ve got enough coverage versus pressure there. We’re starting to figure out some of our better pressure players, guys that can do that on the perimeter. And I think you see our confidence going up. It’s really gone up over the last six weeks. We started hot and then you hit a rough patch and then we came through it and we’re on the uptick right now. We got two takeaways the other day, which is huge and that’s got to continue for us. But I go to back to — the way we’re playing there, the way we play on offense and special teams, it’s the right recipe.”
On Amon-Ra St. Brown: “His consistency, his consistency. The things that he does every day in practice and every game show up all the time. To me, that’s what a pro is and it’s why he’s a pro. You can write down everything that he’s going to do, and he’ll do it. I can bank on everything — his whole routine that he goes through on every day of the week to prepare and then what it’s going to look like in pregame, what it’s going to look like in the game, what it’s going to look like postgame, what he’s going to do on his day off. It’s the same thing. There’s nothing easy about what he does. But, for him, it’s routine and it’s why he’s a great player. It’s consistency. You know exactly what you’re going to get every time, so it’s easy when you have a guy like him on your team. It’s easy to gameplan with him, what you can do because you know what you’re going to get.”
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