As we head into training camp all eyes are going to be on the players. Questions will be raised from the depth of the tight ends, to the quarterback solidarity, all the way through to the Detroit Lions strength in the secondary.
But these perceivable answers will be the result of the real question needing to be addressed during the first few weeks of training camp: how will Jim Caldwell handle this team?
Caldwell, like any current NFL coach, has had success at stages in his career. After taking over the Indianapolis Colts in 2009, the Colts went on to a 14-2 record and finished as the runner up in the Super Bowl. However, this immediate success was then followed by a polar opposite record of 2-14 just two years later. Although the loss of Peyton Manning can’t be replaced overnight, the firing of coach Caldwell left room for speculation.
In my opinion, the Lions’ are going to thrive with the addition of Caldwell as the head coach. The fact of the matter is the Lions needed a change from Jim Schwartz desperately. Schwartz’ demeanor was too emotional for a coach attempting to run a high profile football program while his personality never demanded enough of the players during the last games of the season. The Lions have been ranked in the top 10 for most penalty yards in the last five seasons, a serious sign that the team lacks discipline and respect for the coaching staff.
There are three reasons Jim Caldwell will excel:
1. His calming personality:
Caldwell approaches practice attempting to hold his players accountable and responsible with a tranquil attitude. His coaching style involves keeping positive attention on the players while limiting harsh punishment and shouting. Enforcing adequate discipline from the coaching staff will be a key to this seasons’ success.
2. Players respect him:
From the Colts to the Ravens, offensive players have had positive remarks about Caldwell’s coaching style. The word used most often was respect, which I consider the most important trait for an NFL coach. When dealing with bold personalities on the field, a coach that demands respect has the best chance at aligning a team with uniform goals on and off the field. Current Lions players such as Golden Tate and Reggie Bush have advocated their trust for coach Caldwell and the genuine environment he has created for the players.
3. He’s a former quarterbacks’ coach:
And let’s be honest, Matthew Stafford could use a friend in his corner this year. Caldwell has been a quarterback coach for five different teams including three teams during his time in the NFL. Having an experienced coach in this position will give Stafford the confidence and decision-making abilities he so obviously lacked at the end of last season.
NFL coaches are absolutely held responsible for the success of the team but their impact extends beyond game records into the inspiration and leadership qualities they promote. From the first practice at training camp, a certain attitude will begin to form. Caldwell will have a chance to make a lasting impact on player personality that will carry the necessary winning attitude throughout the fall season. Caldwell is going to make Lions headlines this year and I believe for the better.