Lions head coach Dan Campbell is quickly developing a reputation of being a player-friendly, yet hard-nosed football coach.
In a recent visit with MMQB NFL insider Albert Breer, Campbell brought up an analogy that will surely surprise many.
According to Breer, "Dan Campbell and I were discussing how he and new Lions GM Brad Holmes are doing everything they can to create the right kind of environment for a franchise that’s made the playoffs just three times since 2000, and that’s where he threw out an analogy that I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting."
“We've got two Teacup Yorkies,” Campbell says in Breer's weekly MMQB column. “They're five pounds apiece. They’re named Thelma and Louise. Thelma’s awesome. Thelma’s like, whenever you call her, and here she comes, sweetest thing ever. And, so is Louise. But, Louise is not going to come until she wants to come. ... 'And I think the players, sometimes, you think you're making things better and you actually make it worse. The harder you push one way, they're going to push even harder the opposite way. Whereas if you just kind of let it go, they'll be right by you. They'll be right in your hip pocket. Because they know, this guy, he’s good with me being who I am. And you know what? In return, I'm going to give him what he wants.'”
After a disastrous three-year stretch, the emphasis of the Lions organization has now shifted to building a new culture and an environment players, coaches and media want to be around.
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Campbell told Breer as a player he could recall what it was like when he would hear that a player on the roster was a “coach’s guy” or that he was the “GM’s guy” and what that would indicate to him.
“It’s the first sign that it is a divided building,” Campbell said. “When you start hearing those stories, you’ll never last. And so, it was important. I knew Brad (Holmes) was like I was. And I've said this before, he's cut from the same cloth."
The new environment and culture surrounding the Lions organization is intended to bring players and coaches closer together, with the common goal of winning football games.
For Campbell & Co., allowing players to display their individual personalities will be part of the team's philosophy moving forward.
Campbell added, “And as it pertains to football and plays and situations, we are a team, we will always be a team. But inside of that team, we have individuals and we always will. And sometimes if you push a little too hard or you restrict too much, you're taking away who they are. And who they are is what gives them confidence.”