Dan Campbell Gives Lions Hype Reality Check: “We’ve Got To Earn It”

As the Detroit Lions begin their journey into the 2023 NFL season, the team finds itself surrounded by high expectations and newfound hype.

Despite the excitement surrounding their potential, Head Coach Dan Campbell and his players remain focused on the task at hand, determined to put in the hard work required to meet these lofty standards.

“I think as always, the thing that’s gonna worry you is the hype train,” Campbell candidly remarked during the Lions first day of training camp.

“I mean, as with most coaches, this thing is just taking off and it’s out of control right now, and that’s fine, as long as we stay focused on the job at hand and the work. We’ve got to put the work in and earn it.”

The Lions last playoff appearance dates back to 2016, but their impressive performance at the end of the previous season, winning eight of their final 10 games, has positioned them as the consensus betting favorite to win the NFC North.

The last time Detroit secured the division title was in 1993, when it was known as the NFC Central and comprised five teams.

Adding to the pressure, the Lions have been scheduled for four prime-time games and their traditional Thanksgiving Day matchup.

Second-year defensive end Aidan Hutchinson acknowledged the difficulty of ignoring the heightened external expectations. “It’s kind of hard not to see it,” he admitted.

“We’ve got the TVs on in there, and it just pops up, so you see it. I think it’s smart if a lot of our guys stay off of it just because it can get to your head a little bit. But I think we’re doing a good job of keeping our mentality and keeping what we’ve been doing, especially even last year, and building off of it. We still feel like the underdogs.”

Head coach Campbell emphasizes the importance of staying grounded amid the buzz. “I think you just keep the message consistent, and you call it what it is, and it just goes back to the work,” he asserted.

“When you see it not going that way or we have some guys that are deviating a little bit, or they think they’ve arrived and they haven’t, you call them out on it. As long as we do that as coaches and players as teammates, we’ll be fine.”

Quarterback Jared Goff, who previously led the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl appearance in 2018, credited Campbell for keeping the locker room focused. Goff finds the buzz surrounding the Lions amusing but recognizes the need to stay level-headed.

“That so-called ‘hype train,’ I think it’s funny to me that like you go 9-8, you don’t make the playoffs, and now you’re all of a sudden the favorite,” Goff said.

“Of course, we’ve got good players, we’ve got good coaches, we’ve got a good team, but we haven’t done anything. We have a lot of work to do.”

Goff acknowledged the competitive strength of division rivals, stating, “Minnesota won 13 games last year, Green Bay’s won the division a handful of times in the last handful of years, so we’ve got some work to do to put the stamp on who we want to be and are nowhere near that yet, but are on our way.”

As talented and deserving as they are, it still is strange to think of the Lions as division favorites.

But it’s clearly a new day in Detroit.

How do you think they will end up doing this season? 

Will they reach the NFC Championship Game? (Dare I ask Super Bowl?!)

Either way, MCDC sure is pumped!