Add former Colts head coach Jim Caldwell to the list of names mentioned in connection with the Detroit Lions’ head coaching vacancy.
Caldwell, currently the Ravens’ offensive coordinator, is thought to be on the Lions’ list, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post.
The pros for Caldwell in Detroit are easy to see. For starters, his experience as an assistant is with coaching quarterbacks and receivers, and coordinating pass-first offenses, and the Lions want a coach who can take Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson and turn them into the focal points of a high-scoring offense. There’s also the fact that Caldwell has been the head coach of a team that got to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, and a high-ranking assistant on Super Bowl-winning teams with both the Colts and the Ravens. He has experience with winning teams.
But the problem is that Caldwell hasn’t yet shown that he can be a successful head coach without a great quarterback already in place. When Caldwell had Peyton Manning in 2009 and 2010, he went 14-2 and 10-6. But when Caldwell lost Manning to a neck injury in 2011, his team collapsed to 2-14. The Lions don’t need a coach who can win with a fully formed franchise quarterback like Manning. The Lions need a coach who can take Stafford and turn him from what he is now (a talented but error-prone passer) into a franchise quarterback.
The Lions would love to find a coach who can make Stafford look like Manning. The question about Caldwell as a potential coach of the Lions is whether Manning became the quarterback he is because of Caldwell’s coaching, or whether Caldwell was just lucky enough to get hired by a team that had Peyton Manning.