LIONS INSIDER

Caldwell, Lombardi know what great quarterback play looks like

Posted Jan 28, 2014

Both Peyton Manning and Drew Brees won their lone Super Bowl titles with now Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi as their quarterback coach, respectively

During NBC's broadcast of the Pro Bowl Sunday night, a graphic was put up the screen of the five players in NFL history who’ve thrown for 5,000 yards in a season. It was obviously done to highlight the four times Drew Brees, who was playing in the game, has accomplished the feat.

Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford (Photo: Gavin Smith)

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was in the center of the graphic, with Brees and Peyton Manning to his right.

Stafford recorded his 5,038-yard season in 2011, which was the last time the Lions made the playoffs. He also had 41 touchdowns as the Lions made the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

The significance of that graphic to both Stafford and the Detroit Lions is that the team now employs two coaches who helped both Brees and Manning reach their full potential.

Manning made an unsolicited call to Lions general manager Martin Mayhew a couple weeks back to talk to him about the impact Jim Caldwell had on his career and would likely have on the career of Stafford if he was hired as the team’s head coach.

"Peyton Manning had put up a lot of numbers in Indianapolis his first three years in the league, but his career really started to take off after Caldwell became the quarterbacks coach,” former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy said.

Manning set then-career highs in completions (379), completions percentage (67) and yards (4,267) in his second season under Caldwell's guidance. He threw 49 touchdowns with 10 interceptions in year three.

"Jim Caldwell worked with him in getting him to kind of understand the way we wanted to play and helping him prepare," Dungy said. "I know Peyton talked to Martin Mayhew and Mr. Ford about that too."

Brees has thrived the last four seasons with new Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi as his quarterback coach. Brees has completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 19,661 yards with 156 touchdown passes with a 101.4 passer rating over that span. He’s been selected to the Pro Bowl each season.

"He is a tremendous football coach," Brees said of Lombardi while preparing for Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Hawaii. "He is a great offensive mind. I am so excited for the opportunity that he has to be a coordinator.

"I knew it was only a matter of time. He is a guy that is extremely intelligent, very innovative. He was a huge part of our game planning throughout the week and on game day."

The Lions are still open to the possibility of adding a quarterback coach to their staff, but if not, Stafford seems to be in pretty good hands with Caldwell and Lombardi.

Tom Brady and Dan Marino were the other two players in the NBC graphic as members of the 5,000-yard club.

Manning, Brees, Marino and Brady have 39 Pro Bowls and five Super Bowl titles between them. Manning and Brees have accounted for 21 of those Pro Bowls and two titles.

Caldwell and Lombardi were the quarterbacks coach of Manning and Brees, respectively, when they won their lone Super Bowl titles.

Stafford has put up tremendous statistics over his first five years in the NFL, but he’s yet to play in a Pro Bowl or win a Super Bowl title. That’s the next progression, and the Lions are expecting Caldwell and Lombardi to help him accomplish those next steps having witnessed first-hand how it’s done.