Jim Caldwell Did Not Earn Detroit Lions Head Coaching Job in 2013

jim caldwell

Evan Habeeb – USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions have named Jim Caldwell as their new head coach in a move that has been met with a wave of criticism. The former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and more recently the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens comes to Detroit with the expectation of turning a team with a penchant for disappointing late in the season into a winner. There’s no doubt that the Lions have the talent to compete with the best in the NFL, but what exactly has Caldwell done to prove he’s the man to lead them?

Looking at his previous work as a head coach, you start to wonder. In college, when he was leading the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Caldwell had just one winning season in seven years and won more than three games twice during that span. With the Colts, Caldwell went to the Super Bowl in his first season where he lost to the New Orleans Saints 31-17 where he appeared to be out-coached at just about every level. Indy was able to make the playoffs again the next year, but most of that success seemed to be thanks to Peyton Manning at quarterback and the roster that Caldwell inherited from Tony Dungy.

When Manning was lost for an entire season following neck surgery, Caldwell saw the wheels come completely off in Indianapolis. The team started 0-13 before finishing 2-14 that year leading to a total house-cleaning by the Colts organization. Caldwell ended up in Baltimore as a quarterbacks coach before taking over as offensive coordinator in December of 2012 where he seemed to provide a spark to the offense that carried them to the Super Bowl last season. His work down the stretch earned him the gig full time in 2013, which you would expect to be the work that earned him the Detroit job.

But his work this season as OC of the Ravens has been pretty hard to watch. Baltimore finished No. 29 in the league in total offense and No. 25 in scoring as they missed the playoffs for the first time with John Harbaugh as the head coach. Joe Flacco threw more interceptions than touchdowns (22 INT, 19 TD) for the first time in his career and completed less than 60 percent of his passes for the third straight season. Running back Ray Rice rushed for just 660 yards, the lowest total since his rookie season which was also the last time he failed to rush for at least 1,000 yards. In short, the Baltimore offense took a step back in Caldwell’s first (and only) full season as the offensive coordinator.

Somehow, that resume earned Caldwell the Detroit job, though. While many support Caldwell as a good man and good coach with an even temperament that could provide some discipline to the Lions’ roster, it is difficult to justify the hire looking at Caldwell’s body of work. When handed significant responsibility, teams have deteriorated at his last two stops in the NFL. Will things be any different for Detroit?

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  • twelsh36446

    Why rag on him? You have a problem with him personally or something? Holding his college record against him was a low blow. Evidently, you don’t know the situation he was in down there. You might want to investigate before writing poop like this. The Ravens had an offensive line that Ranked 28th in the league last year. Ray Rice was out 8 games I think, and half their offensive line was patched together, yet they got the ball close enough to the end zone to kick 6 field goals against Detroit and win the game. That offensive line completely collapsed do to injury’s and player’s who were free agents and moved on. Give him Detroit’s offensive front and there will be hell to pay against the Lions next year. I’m thinking that duo will lead the league in yards. I bet they aren’t coughing the ball up, and the whole team will become accountable to Caldwell. Put that in your pipe and smoke it Mr. Evan Habeeb.

    • http://www.rantsports.com/ncaa-football/author/tylerbrett Tyler Brett

      Nobody is ragging on him. By all accounts, he’s a great guy but nothing that he did in 2013 as OC of the Ravens really shows that he’s ready to be an NFL head coach again. Maybe that was a bad hand dealt to him by injuries or whatever, but facts are facts. The offense of Baltimore wasn’t that good this season.

  • Johnnie Q Wilson

    This seems to be a rant against him ignoring the facts. He took a team to the superbowl as HC and then won one as a OC, forget about that, lets invent new metrics to prove our point. I could care less by the way as a Giants fan, but at least pretend to be objective. Actually, my bad, its called RANT…

    • http://www.rantsports.com/ncaa-football/author/tylerbrett Tyler Brett

      I don’t think I’m inventing any metrics at all, just looking at his resume at large. The Colts trended down with him as head coach in 3 seasons (14-2, 10-6, 2-14) and the Ravens offense trended down with him as OC in 2013. His most successful seasons have been good situations that he inherited but couldn’t develop.

      • twelsh36446

        Why not give all the facts and not just the bad ones Tyler? Fact, he lost Peyton Manning after going to the Superbowl the year before, hmmm the Superbowl. The team that year lost 6 players to free agency, and the offensive line was decimated, and tell me one coach who could win a game with the likes of . They went 2-14 with Kerry Collins, and Curtis painter as quarterback. Who could actually win a game with either of those quarterbacks? The team knew they had to rebuild after Manning went down and the GM was fired along with Caldwell. February 3rd, 2013, Jim Caldwell helped lead the Baltimore offense to a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, hmmmm another Superbowl.
        The next year Caldwell became the head coach of the Detroit Lions. He kept in place 8 of the assistants from last years team. You can paste it anyway you want, but he has been to a Superbowl, and he will deliver in Detroit because he inherited a good team, and he’s a very smart man.

        • http://www.rantsports.com/ncaa-football/author/tylerbrett Tyler Brett

          You seem to have missed a few years in your fact run-down. He inherited the Colts’ roster that went to the roster from Tony Dungy where Peyton Manning had an MVP year and they went to the Super Bowl. He then had another year with Manning at quarterback where they regressed, losing four more games than the year prior, and were bounced from the playoffs in the first round. Then, Manning got hurt and they went 2-14.
          With the Ravens, he inherited another good situation and only had to be OC for two months before the Super Bowl win. Then, in the one full season as OC, the Ravens had their worst offensive season since Jim Harbaugh became head coach. While he suffered injuries on the offense, the regression of Joe Flacco and Ray Rice ultimately reflects poorly on Caldwell, their OC.
          All I have done is lay out his entire resume to evaluate. Based on his accomplishments, particularly in the 2013 season as OC of the Ravens, I have a hard time being excited about the hire. Teams under his direction have regressed under him after he inherited good situations. That doesn’t make Caldwell a bad person or anything, just a questionable hire in my opinion.

          • twelsh36446

            Tyler you need to do your homework before spewing off that mouth with negativity. I would school you but don’t have time for idiots.

          • twelsh36446

            His teams regressed AFTER winning Superbowl’s. Most teams do buddy. Look it up.

  • Hosenberg DontcallmeGoth Hosse

    Tyler, Thanks for being honest and fair — a very good article. More importantly, thanks for having the courage to write this, knowing that you will be labeled a hater, regardless of the number of facts that you present. So many people don’t like the fact that anyone could actually be held accountable to past actions…which creates a very scary world …

    • http://www.rantsports.com/ncaa-football/author/tylerbrett Tyler Brett

      Appreciate it!