The Lions won’t become the seventh team this offseason to make a head coaching change, according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com. Twentyman tweets that new general manager Bob Quinn and the Lions have decided to retain Jim Caldwell as the club’s head coach.
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“After spending a significant amount of time together, it is clear that our football philosophies are very similar,” Quinn said of Caldwell, per Twentyman (Twitter link).
Quinn’s reference to spending “a significant amount of time” with Caldwell since joining the Lions is corroborated by a Thursday report which suggested that the two men had already met “on at least four different occasions.” There was some speculation when Quinn, a longtime Patriots executive, got the GM job in Detroit that he’d turn to one a New England assistant like Josh McDaniels, but it appears the Lions are opting for continuity instead.
Caldwell, a former head coach in Indianapolis, has a 44-36 record in five total seasons as a head coach, including an 18-14 mark during his two seasons in Detroit. After leading the Lions to an 11-5 record and a postseason berth in 2014, Caldwell struggled this season with a roster that no longer featured defensive difference-maker Ndamukong Suh.
Still, the Lions’ performance down the stretch, along with his players’ endorsement, likely earned Caldwell another shot. After a 1-7 start to the 2015 season resulted in the firing of GM Martin Mayhew and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, Detroit finished strong, winning six of its last eight games.
While the Lions had to cope with losing Suh in 2015, there’s a chance that the club will be without one of its other longtime stars in 2016. Calvin Johnson has indicated he may elect to retire rather than continuing his NFL career, and even if he opts to keep playing, the team may have to do something to address his contract, which will feature a $24MM+ cap hit next year. Johnson’s future is just one of many storylines to watch this offseason in Detroit as we see what kind of roster Caldwell will be presiding over in 2016.
One key figure who appears to be remaining in Detroit along with Caldwell is offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who took over for Lombardi during the 2015 season, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. That’s good news for Matthew Stafford, whose performance under Cooter was much improved and quieted speculation that the Lions could move on from their quarterback this winter.
With Caldwell hanging on to his job with the Lions, the Titans appear to be the only NFL club that still needs to make a decision on a new head coach this offseason, barring a surprise change from one of the eight remaining playoff teams. So far this month, the Browns, Dolphins, Giants, Eagles, 49ers, and Buccaneers have hired new head coaches, as our tracker shows. Tennessee could become the seventh team to make a change, though Mike Mularkey is considered a strong candidate to keep that job.
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