For the first eight games of the season, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn called plays for the Lions. In the ninth game, Dan Campbell took over. The rookie head coach wanted to be more hands-on with an offense that ranks among the worst in the league. He also wanted to be in the ear of Jared Goff.
Some might view it as a demotion for Lynn, losing his role as the primary play caller and relinquishing the line of communication with the quarterback. Lynn sees it as a head coach trying to spark his team.
"I don’t see it as a demotion," he said Thursday. "I’ve been in Dan’s shoes and if I was 0-8 and I needed to spark my team, being an offensive guy, I probably would have done the same thing, to be honest with you. And I have. So I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t agree with what he did.
"I thought it worked well. I thought we worked well together last week. He asked me my opinions on certain things and he makes those calls. But he wanted to talk to the quarterback, that was the main thing. He wanted to communicate with the quarterback and only one person can do that, so he’s got the headset."
The results were mostly the same, except for the non-loss to the Steelers: the Lions struggled to throw the ball and totaled 16 points in five quarters of action. Lynn was in his usual spot in the press box, but said "it was different" without his regular duties.
"I was probably busier last week than I have been all season because I’m trying to assist the head coach and I’m looking at tendencies and writing charts and providing information," he said. "But at the same time, did call some plays as well."
As for what percentage of plays he called, Lynn said, "I couldn't tell you. I just know that it is a collaborative effort."
Campbell said this week he intends to remain the primary play-caller Sunday against the Browns. The Lions did produce their best rushing numbers of the season last week, putting up 229 yards and 5.9 yards per carry in wet, sloppy conditions. They debuted a jumbo package featuring O-lineman Matt Nelson as a blocking tight end that gave the Steelers fits for most of the game.
"Dan knows football," said Lynn. "Dan is sharp as hell. He’s been in New Orleans with a high-powered offense. He brings a lot of good ideas to the table throughout the week when he game plan. I thought he called the game last week that gave us the best chance to win. We had to run the ball 40 times in those conditions and I didn’t have any problem with that."
Lynn joined Campbell in Detroit this year after four seasons as head coach of the Chargers. He had intended to take the year off from coaching, but changed his mind because of his long-standing relationship with Campbell. As for the plan moving forward, Lynn said, "I’ll assist him and do whatever he wants me to do.”