Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell interviewed for the Detroit Lions head coaching position on Friday and admitted the next coach is stepping into an atypical situation.
"This is an unusual situation because of the fact that you don’t typically walk into a place that has a talented quarterback, one of the best receivers in all the game and just a fine nucleus," he said.
"Then a defense that has an extremely talented front four. I saw them up close and personal (Week 15)."
It took six field goals by Caldwell's Ravens to beat the Lions, 18-16, on Monday Night Football Dec. 16.
Caldwell, 58, was a longtime assistant with the Indianapolis Colts, working closely with Peyton Manning as his quarterback coach, and spent three seasons as the Colts’ head coach before joining the Ravens in 2012.
Caldwell guided the Colts to a 14-2 record and a Super Bowl appearance in his first year as head coach as Tony Dungy’s successor. He went 10-6 the following year and then 2-14 in 2011, when Manning missed the season with a neck injury. He was let go after that season and that's been the one knock on him, that he couldn't win without Manning.
"Jim Caldwell had a tremendous influence on me as my quarterbacks coach," Manning told reporters (via denverbroncos.com) last year before the Broncos played the Ravens in the regular season.
"He was very organized, very detail-oriented, which I’m a fan of that philosophy, and he and I got into a good routine in meetings and on the practice field every day for the time we were together when he was my quarterbacks coach. I really felt he took my game to another level. He’s also been a tremendous friend to me and mentor. I miss being around him every day and I miss his friendship every day. That’s how I feel about Jim."
Caldwell took over play-calling duties for Baltimore towards the end of last year and helped them to a Super Bowl title.
He told detroitlions.com that experience of working with Manning has served him well in Baltimore and could serve him well in Detroit, too.
"(Manning) is a guy with a lot of drive and ability," he said. "But he’s also a guy that has talent, but works extremely hard and sets a great standard for the individuals that want to perfect their craft.
"I think that bodes well for a number of the younger guys that are in this business and playing that position. Guys with talent, but are certainly looking for opportunity to get better, and obviously Matthew is as well."
Caldwell is known around NFL circles for being a detail-oriented coach with importance played on some of the most basic principles.
Asked what his coaching philosophy is:
"You have to look at what wins," he said. "That’s the important thing. You have to be very good in terms of your fundamentals and techniques ruling the day. Those are the things that are going to carry you when times are difficult. Those are the things that are going to put streaks together. Those are the things that certainly will help you win games and get you enough games to get you into the postseason.
"When you look at it, that’s what it boils down to. The basics and the rudiment of it all is to make certain you’re very good at the things you have to do most often, you block, tackle, catch run and throw accurately."
The Lions are expected to interview a number of other candidates for their head coaching position in the coming days, including assistants on current playoff teams.