Jim Caldwell hire is a big move for Detroit Lions franchise

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Safe. Boring. Plan B.

These were some of the words used to describe the Detroit Lions’ decision to hire Jim Caldwell as their next coach. Caldwell is a former head coach for the Indianapolis Colts and most recently was the offensive coordinator for the reigning Super Bowl Champion Ravens.

His coaching resumé seems like a slam dunk, even if his personality apparently isn’t.

USA TODAY Sports’ Maggie Hendricks writes of the Caldwell hire:

“Of the many job openings this year, the Lions had the most attractive position. Yet, somehow, this hire is a big whiff.”

Fellow USA TODAY Chris Strauss called the hire the “least sexy” the Lions could have made. Caldwell obviously has the backing of the Lions brass, which point to his work with Peyton Manning as a quarterbacks coach and mentor, as well his jumpstarting a Ravens offense into a Super Bowl Champion in 2012.

The time with Manning has always been a sort of a blessing and burden for the 58-year-old Caldwell. While he enjoyed remarkable success with Manning at the helm, the 2011 Manning-less Colts went 2-14.

Add that to the fact Manning appears so in control during games, it’s hard for the outside world to see any coach helping him in any way. Despite the perception, Manning himself has been nothing but complimentary of his time spent with Caldwell. 

“Jim Caldwell had a tremendous influence on me as my quarterbacks coach,” Manning said in 2012 before a game between the Broncos and Ravens. “He was very organized, very detail-oriented […] I really felt he took my game to another level.”

Caldwell won’t be able to take Stafford to Manning’s level – but anywhere close would serve the Lions quarterback greatly.  Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel points out a decision Caldwell made to use a timeout late in an eventual Colts playoff loss as evidence there are some cracks in Caldwell’s armor. But these cracks are relatively small when compared to what he can provide for a very talented Lions team.

As the Detroit News’ John Niyo points out, the lukewarm reaction to Caldwell’s arrival in Detroit is more of a reflection of how the Lions handled their search and less about Caldwell’s credentials. Sporting News’ David Steele put it best:

“Caldwell’s overlooked, underappreciated track record says otherwise. It tells you that he’s an ideal fit for a team too talented not to win.”

I’m not betting against Caldwell. With one winning season in the last 13 years, the Detroit Lions need someone who has a history of taking talent to the next level.

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