Thoughts on the Lions Coaching Staff 3

5:30 PM 25 Jan 2014

With only one position left to fill (QB coach), the Lions coaching staff has taken shape for the most part.  While the Lions fan base in general had a fairly positive view of the hiring of Jim Caldwell as Head Coach, there has been plenty of negativity surrounding the hire from a local perspective.  His hires after that, however, have met with almost universally positive reactions and it is a testament to the respect that Caldwell has in the NFL community that he was able to construct the staff that he has put together.  Also important is the prudent moves he has made to retain several key pieces of the staff.  I had posted some thoughts about each of the hires as they came in, as well as those the Lions were pursuing or were linked to the team, but I feel the times is now to take a good look at the staff and how they can help build a path forward from the Lions disappointing 2013 season.

NFL: Detroit Lions-Press ConferenceHead Coach
Jim Caldwell
Former Offensive Coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens (2012-2013), Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts (2009-2011), OC and Assistant HC of the Colts (2002-2009)

Fans of this hire will point to the three Super Bowls that Caldwell took part in, two as Offensive Coordinator (Both wins) and one as a Head Coach (A loss).  Detractors will pull in his total Head Coaching record, including his time at Wake Forest.  I don’t plan on doing either of those things because he’s already hired so it’s irrelevant.  What Caldwell brings is respect, something Schwartz could never claim.  He brings an attitude that Detroit has lacked the past five years and that is restraint.  That may seem like a negative to some people, but I’m referring solely to how he deals with his players and how he deals with coaching.  There ARE negatives to that last part, Caldwell has been viewed as a conservative playcaller and that was something that had fans screaming with Scott Linehan.

Positives?  I would expect to see a lot of usage out of the Tight Ends under Caldwell.  It was a running theme in both Indianapolis and Baltimore and I wouldn’t expect that to stop here.  That’s good news for Joe Fauria, but also good news for Brandon Pettigrew whom the Lions may choose to retain.  If Pettigrew is retained or not, I would expect the Lions to be looking hard at this draft class of Tight Ends, and I wouldn’t disagree with that pickup at all.  Caldwell also has a history of keeping with the running game when it’s working, something Linehan tended to abandon in favor of passing even in the worst situations.

Negatives?  Caldwell ALSO has a history of not abandoning the run even when it’s not working.  Anyone who watched a Ravens game could see that on full display, and while there are positives to that as well, there comes a point in time when things aren’t working and you just need to adjust.  Time management has always been a problem for Caldwell, forcing him to hire an Offensive Assistant (Jim Tressell) in Indianapolis to handle this duty.  It’s possible recently hired Ron Prince could take that role.

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3 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Lions Coaching Staff

  1. Derek Mack Reply dmac93065 Jan 25, 2014 7:32 PM

    Another solid read Kent. Media reports are now saying Whisenhunt (and many other top coaching prospects) was scared off by the ‘win now’ focus of the Lions as it’s commonly believed there’s a systemic problem within the Lions that originates from ownership. Most coaches know they’ll have two shots as an NFL head coach, if they’re lucky. That makes Caldwell’s acceptance of this job courageous. As fans we love the organization, but if I were on my 2nd and last shot as an NFL head coach, I’m not sure this is the team I’d chose to define or re-define my legacy.

    To the question posed in the article, I think this is an upgraded coaching staff from not only the last regime but arguably one of the best the Lions have enjoyed in a couple of decades. I think you have coaches who will instill discipline like Ron Prince and Bill Sheridan. I think there will be coaches who will have the specific expertise to help certain position groups (QBs – Caldwell/Lombardi, WRs-Robert Prince, Safeties-Williams) and they’ve retained the all star coaching talent already on the staff who’ve done wonders with the offensive and defensive lines.

    My biggest concern is with TEs. I am not sold on Ron Prince and what he can bring to one of the worst position groups on the roster. I’m also concerned with play-calling. There are two new coaches calling plays on the big stage in football for the first time in their careers. Lombardi has received rave reviews from his colleagues so I think he’s ready for the challenge. Take Adam Gase, did you realize he was once an assistant with the Lions under Mariucci? Back in 2005 he probably wouldn’t have acquitted himself well in a coordinator role, today Gase might be one of the hottest coordinators in all of football. Lombardi will be fine, IF Caldwell doesn’t get in the way. Austin should be fine, IF Washburn doesn’t try imposing his will on the defense. My biggest concern for these new playcallers is whether more veteran staff members will inhibit their talents.

  2. Dave Brown, TSB Senior Writer Reply Dave Brown, TSB Senior Writer Jan 27, 2014 6:19 PM

    On paper, everything looks great. I like this staff so far, with a small disclaimer:
    The jury is still out…

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