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.
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.