With the conclusion of the 2015 NFL regular season just days away for the Detroit Lions, we look into whether or not the team should bring back Jim Caldwell and Jim Bob Cooter next season.
With “Black Monday” approaching, there has been much speculation as to who will be fired as a head coach or position coordinator, and who will remain with their respective team next season. The process has already gotten an early start, with the Philadelphia Eagles making the decision to fire Chip Kelly on Tuesday. Kelly had a 26- 21 record with the Eagles and came into the 2015 season with two consecutive 10-6 seasons, showing how hard it is to coach in the NFL.
Regarding the Detroit Lions, the head coaching position held by Jim Caldwell seems to be up in the air. After an 11-5 record last year, the Lions have been a major disappointment this season with a 6-9 record entering Week 17 of the 2015 season. With the organization clearing house mid-season, Caldwell was able to remain the head coach while his job is now seemingly up for evaluation next week.
Now since the firing of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi on October 26th, Caldwell and interim offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter have seen a remarkable turn around. After starting the season 1-6, the Lions have rallied to a 5-3 record, while quarterback Matthew Stafford has seen a remarkable turnaround, and is producing one of his best seasons of his career statistically.
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Now it seems logical that Caldwell and Cooter have gathered the chemistry to be the idea fit for this football team moving forward right?
Although the coaching transition has seen a remarkable change of pace, let’s look into this current 5-3 stretch the Lions have enjoyed since firing Lombardi.
Coming into the 2015 NFL season, anybody with any sort of football knowledge knew that the front half of the Lions’ schedule would be much more competitive than the back half. Here is where the first six opponents to beat the Lions this season rank defensively in terms of yardage allowed: San Diego (18th), Minnesota (twice, 14th), Denver (1st), Seattle (2nd), and Arizona (5th). Four of those five teams have already secured a playoff berth this season.
Now, let’s look at the five wins Detroit has accumulated since Cooter took over in terms of defensive yardage allowed: Green Bay (19th), Oakland (22nd), Philadelphia (30th), New Orleans (31st), and San Francisco (28th). They face the Chicago Bears who rank 16th this weekend.
Now to think the duo of Caldwell and Cooter are the answer moving forward is inane.
Cooter will not help the long term potential of Stafford moving forward with his conservative style, and is not the answer for this offense which carries so much talent. Although some statistics have seen an improvement for Stafford during this eight game stretch, many people are overlooking stats such as his yards per game this season,(264.3) which is the third lowest of his career.
This franchise has always gotten so caught up in the moment, and never really seems to look at the big picture. Five wins against mediocre opponents or efforts (Green Bay), now seem fitting to hire this man as the offensive coordinator next season.
As for Caldwell, I would not consider this two year tenure of his to be a complete failure, but with the direction this team is looking to move towards, he is not the answer. Although I feel Stafford has taken a jump over these past two seasons, I feel a large part of that is he is coming into the prime of his career. At 27 years old, Stafford is on the verge of making that jump we see out of elite talents towards the top of their game. Also, in all fairness to Caldwell, he has been a quarterback guru himself, working with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and winning a Super Bowl in Baltimore as the interim offensive coordinator with Joe Flacco.
Dec 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) drops back to pass during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
But he does not complete the specifications of what this football team needs as a superior leader, as somebody who stands there looking like a deer in the headlights whenever something controversial happens.
With the complete struggle we have seen this year, you can only hope that this team or new general manager does not look at these remaining five games as the reason for keeping these two around.
With names such as Sean Payton, Ken Whisenhunt, Joe Philbin, Cam Cameron, Adam Gase, or even Pep Hamilton available/or possibly available to come fix this offense either as a head coach or an offensive coordinator, I think you need to look else where.
Not to mention the defensive side of the ball, with current defensive coordinator Teryl Austin making a strong case for the head coaching position himself.
If everything comes to together this is a good football team, as we saw last year, and I am under the belief that Stafford will continue to grow, so why waste another season of his prime under Caldwell when you can build towards the new regime this franchise is looking to implement?