The first order of business when the players arrived in Allen Park Monday for the start of the offseason training program was a team meeting with new head coach Jim Caldwell.
It was the sixth such meeting for quarterback Matthew Stafford, but he said this one was a little different than the previous five.
“You saw when we hired (Caldwell) the pictures of all of his emotions on the sideline and it’s the same picture 100 times over again, but he really does command a room,” Stafford told me at a Pepsi event at Ford Field Thursday night. “When he stands up in front of a room in front of a team, for some reason, you just want to listen. That’s something probably not practiced. He’s born with it. He’s got a great way about him. People respond to him very well.”
During that meeting, Caldwell laid out the ground rules of what he wanted to accomplish this offseason and what he expects from his team, both on and off the field in 2014.
He also made it clear that everyone would be offered a clean slate and a chance to make a first impression.
“In that team meeting he was clear and concise,” Stafford said. “It wasn’t super long-winded. It was to the point. I’ve been through five of those meetings at the beginning of the year and there’s a lot of stuff to go over and a lot of times people can lose focus. It’s two, two and a half hours, whatever it is, but he had everyone’s attention the whole time and everybody was looking forward to it.”
Stafford wasn’t the only player who walked out of that meeting impressed by his new coach.
“I really like him. I like him a lot,” veteran running back
Coaches and players have limited contact during Phase 1 of the offseason program, which lasts two weeks. Caldwell and his staff will get their first opportunity to get on the field with the players during the voluntary minicamp later this month. Further impressions should arise after those on-field workouts.