Craig Remsburg column: Caldwell may be right man for Lions
Many Detroit Lions fans no doubt reacted to the hiring Tuesday of Jim Caldwell as the team’s newest head coach with a yawn and an indifferent attitude.
That’s because the former Baltimore Ravens’ offensive coordinator and Indianapolis Colts head coach is not a sexy hire.
Caldwell’s not regarded as an up-and-coming hot shot in NFL circles.
He wasn’t the one person every NFL team looking for a new coach the last month wanted. He reportedly wasn’t even the Lions’ first choice. Ken Whisenhunt was.
And Caldwell’s demeanor is reported to be low key, unlike the Lions’ last coach, Jim Schwartz, who always seemed to coach on the edge.
Perhaps that was why the Lions were so undisciplined on the field and self-destructed so many times.
But Caldwell may be exactly what the Lions need. He’s regarded as a no-nonsense coach who demands accountability from his players.
He’s also said to be a guru for pro quarterbacks, someone who can bring out the best in every NFL team’s most important position.
Caldwell’s work with former Colts QB Peyton Manning and current Ravens’ signal caller Joe Flacco is well documented and lauded. Caldwell has been given a lot of credit for developing those two players into the QBs they are today.
QB Matthew Stafford – not receiver Calvin Johnson – is the Lions’ key player. The club has a lot invested in Stafford, a former No. 1 overall draft pick who’s under contract through 2017.
If he can move into the upper echelon of NFL QBs, like Manning, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, New England’s Tom Brady, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Flacco, the Lions have a playoff future.
If Stafford continues to be brilliant one play and absolutely horrible the next, the Lions won’t be playoff and Super Bowl contenders.
Since Stafford is under contract for several years, the Lions needed someone who was a former NFL head coach who understood what it takes to make a quarterback great and thus, elevate Stafford’s play.
Caldwell may be just the man.
He has a four-year contract to turn the culture of the Lions and their locker room around. The team must be disciplined and learn how to close out games it should win.
Caldwell needs to lead a club that is begging for direction and – here’s that word again – accountability.
But he must win now and not two or three years down the road.
He may not have a fiery personality, but if Caldwell can gain the players’ respect and get them to follow his direction, the Lions may have found themselves – finally – a coach who’s just what the team needs.
If not, it’s going to be another four long years of futility and frustration.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.