No laughing at these Lions

Dan Campbell looked in much the same condition as Minnesota fans as he watched the Vikings’ loss to Philadelphia on Monday night.

“I fell backwards in my chair drunk after the second half,” he said on Tuesday. “I couldn’t even take notes anymore. I woke up, I couldn’t read my notes anymore. But I’m back this morning, I took some aspirin, I’m fine.”

It’s not Dan Campbell, your next door neighbor. It’s Motor City Dan Campbell, or MCDC, the coach of the Detroit Lions. He brings his team to US Bank Stadium on Sunday to show the Vikings that this is no longer the NFC North doormat.

And Campbell does it like no other NFL coach, with impassioned speeches, unvarnished sound bites and self-deprecating humor. He’s built like a tight end — because he’s been one for 10 years, including the last three with the Lions. When he talks, he sounds like Jeff Bridges as the guy in “The Big Lebowski.”

“Man, I have a plan,” he told his players while explaining why they were in the pads on the first day of practice. “I swear, I’m only thinking about you guys. That’s all I’m thinking about, man.”

This guy has to be as transparent as possible in front of his players and occasionally break down at press conferences as he discusses their journey to relevance. He also approached owner Sheila Ford Hamp for a pet lion to hang around the training facility. Fortunately, this request was denied.

Campbell’s coaching staff is full of NFL experience and sometimes stole the show during this season’s ‘Hard Knocks’ series on HBO, as assistant head coach Duce Staley verbally jousted with defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn during practices.

MCDC has no problem with this if their shots don’t interfere with the team’s goals. The Lions enter Sunday 1-1, tied for first in the division for the first time since Week 4 of 2017. In Week 2, before their victory over Washington, they were the betting favorites for the first times in 24 weeks. They scored 71 points, tied for second in the NFL.

So Sunday is a bigger challenge for the Vikings than you might think. There is evidence that this big cleat and this group of coaches talking rubbish gets to the players. They believe Campbell is sincere about how much he cares about them and how passionate he is about building a winner. And they respond.

As Detroit looks for ways to slow down the Vikings offense — they need defensive linemen Alim McNeill and Isaiah Buggs to control Dalvin Cook in particular — the Vikings will have their hands full with the Lions offense. Quarterback Jared Goff threw six touchdowns and just one interception. Running back D’Andre Swift rushed 20 times for 200 yards and a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass.

Then there’s wide receiver Amon-Ra Julian Heru J. St. Brown — full name — who has 17 receptions for 180 yards and three touchdowns. He is also an excellent blocker for the running game. And Harrison Smith will miss that game with a concussion.

The Vikings must be aware of what awaits them. They needed a 54-yard field goal from Greg Joseph to beat the Lions 19-17 at home in Week 5 last season, then lost to Detroit in Week 13 on a touchdown pass from Goff to St. Brown.

The Purple are angry after their 24-7 loss to the Eagles, which, by the way, does not constitute adversity. It was a loss. Corrections are needed, not a revision.

Sunday is not easy. These Lions return their roar.

Charles P. Patton