Head coach Dan Campbell won’t back down despite Detroit Lions’ failures on 4th down


Associated Press

DETROIT — Dan Campbell is going down swinging.

The first-year Detroit Lions coach, who is still seeking his first win, has gone for it on fourth down a league-high 10 times, including twice in Sunday’s 24-14 loss to Chicago.

Problem is, the Lions didn’t convert either of those fourth-down opportunities, both of which they tried from field-goal range. That continues a trend for Detroit (0-4), which has succeeded on 3 of 10 fourth-down plays, a rate that ranks 25th in the league.

Campbell isn’t backing down.

“I don’t regret any of them,” he said.

The problem, players say, is their execution. They appreciate the coaching staff’s trust in them, but it’s up to them to prove the decision was correct.

“I respect coach (for) believing in us to get those fourth-and-ones, third-and-shorts, and I know we can execute,” receiver Quintez Cephus said. “We just have to continue to keep honing in on those small details.”

The numbers suggest Detroit’s problems run deeper than a lack of execution. The Lions have gotten largely mediocre play from quarterback Jared Goff, who is averaging 6.8 yards per attempt, and they lack reliable weapons on the outside. Running back D’Andre Swift and tight end T.J. Hockenson are the Lions’ leading receivers.

Detroit’s roster has been depleted by injuries, further narrowing its margin for error. The team had another big setback on Sunday when its best outside linebacker, Romeo Okwara, suffered an Achilles tendon injury that will end his season.

Okwara joins cornerback Jeff Okudah, tackle Taylor Decker, defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu and wide receiver Tyrell Williams on injured reserve.