Jim Caldwell will stay on as the head coach of the Detroit Lions, the team announced on its official website Friday. Lions’ newly-appointed general manager Bob Quinn had been deliberating on what direction to go at head coach, but ultimately stood pat and announced Jim Caldwell will remain in charge.
“After spending a significant amount of time together, it is clear that our football philosophies are very similar. Consequently, I am convinced he is the right man to lead our football team moving forward. Jim’s entire body of work is impressive. Not only did he lead the Lions to the playoffs his first season here, but when you look at how the players responded the second half of last season, under difficult circumstances, it’s clear to me that this team believes in him and responds positively to his leadership.”
Jim Caldwell has accumulated a record of 18-14 in his two seasons with the Lions, with one playoff appearance. Detroit finished 11-5 in his first campaign, only to slide to 7-9 this past season. Caldwell found himself on the hot seat thanks to a 1-7 start, but saved his job by going 6-2 down the stretch. In a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league, Caldwell is thankful for the opportunity to finish what he started.
“I am obviously thrilled that I will continue to lead this football team. I genuinely appreciate the faith Bob has shown in me, and I really look forward to working together. As I’ve said before, I truly love coaching the Lions and, while I’ve only been here two years, I have grown to love our fans, the City of Detroit, and the people of Detroit and Michigan. Their loyalty and passion is incredible and we want nothing more than to bring them a championship.”
Jim Caldwell not only received endorsements from the front office and ownership group, but also from several marquee players hoping Caldwell would remain their head coach. This from quarterback Matthew Stafford on a Detroit radio show this past Tuesday.
“The biggest thing for me is knowing what kind of person he (Caldwell) is and what kind of coach he is. To me, he’s as good as I have ever played for. He’s a really good coach. Obviously, it’s not my decision, and I understand the idea of meshing out — make sure the front office meshes with the coaching staff. I understand that. I just know that I really do enjoy playing for coach Caldwell.”
And then from wide receiver Calvin Johnson after the team’s season finale, who has played for three head coaches since arriving in Detroit in 2007.
“Love him. Everybody in the locker room would probably say the same thing. He commands respect, but he doesn’t have to do much. It’s just his character. Guys gravitate towards [him]. Easily one of my favorite coaches I’ve had come through.”
Jim Caldwell’s most tangible adjustment during the team’s early-season struggles came when he fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, his original OC when he took the Lions job. Lombardi was relieved after the team fell to 1-6 and replaced by Jim Bob Cooter. Cooter and Stafford seemed to hit their stride which led to wins and will likely lead to Cooter remaining in that role.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has been one of the hotter head-coaching candidates this offseason, interviewing with the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, and Cleveland Browns. He has one more interview scheduled for Friday with the Tennessee Titans, who remain the only team with a head-coaching vacancy. If Austin does not get that job, he will likely return to Detroit and Jim Caldwell’s staff as they look to build off their second half momentum. Caldwell did say he has a backup plan in place should Austin become a head coach elsewhere, but was not specific.
[Feature Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]