KEY QUESTIONS: Jim Caldwell says the time to win is now

Posted Jan 15, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers a number of key questions from Jim Caldwell's introductory press conference on Wednesday, including what kind of team he wants and how Matthew Stafford will benefit from his coaching

The Detroit Lions introduced Jim Caldwell as the 26th head coach in franchise history Wednesday night.

Caldwell talked about his family background and his coaching history, but when it got time to talk about the Detroit Lions he didn’t mince words.

"I believe the time (to win) is now," he said.

The Ford Family and the Lions front office expect Caldwell to hit the ground running and take this franchise over the hump, into the playoffs and beyond. The bar has been set very high.

Was Caldwell their guy all along?

Team president Tom Lewand said he and general manager Martin Mayhew quickly identified Caldwell as a candidate that fit their profile along with Ken Whisenhunt.

"Ken Whisenhunt, is somebody that we wanted to have additional conversations with and had offered to bring him to Detroit to have additional conversations and a chance to meet the Ford family," Lewand said. "He had a great opportunity in Tennessee and they got a fine man and fine football coach.

"The other finalist is sitting to my left (Caldwell) and I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to introduce to you and Lions' fans all over the place, the next head coach of the Detroit Lions, because he fits our profile to a T."

Lewand went on to talk about Caldwell's leadership, experience, sound football philosophy, intelligence, communication skills, integrity, accountability, discipline – some of the same things vice Chairman Bill Ford also said of Caldwell following the press conference.

"There is no doubt that anyone who thinks we settled for Jim Caldwell doesn't know Jim Caldwell," Lewand said. "I couldn't be more happy to have the opportunity to introduce him to the city of Detroit and to all of you as the next head football coach of the Detroit Lions.

What kind of football team does Caldwell want to have?

Anyone who got this job was walking into a good situation with a talented roster. For Caldwell, it’s now about fine-tuning those pieces and finding ways to get the most out of them.

"We’re going to be smart," Caldwell said. "We’re going to be a football team that takes the field that’s not going to shoot itself in the foot. We’re going to be a team that is disciplined, that’s focused, that understands situational football. It’s going to be drilled and drilled and drilled and not just given lip service, but what you should see on the field is obviously a product of our coaching, our instruction and our demands. We’re going to have a fast football team. There’s nothing like teams with speed.

"We’re going to do things the right way, but we’re going to be a physical, hard-nosed, rough football team. We’re going to flat get after you from the word go every single snap of the ball on offense, defense and in the kicking game."

Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford (Photo: Gavin Smith)

How will quarterback Matthew Stafford benefit from Caldwell’s presence?

Caldwell has a history of improving the quarterback position during his tenure and he and Stafford are already getting familiar with each other. Stafford sat with Caldwell during his interview on Jan. 3 and the two shared text messages after the announcement was made that Caldwell had gotten the job.

"One of the things that we did is we took a good look at all of his throws this past year, I went through all of them, so I had a feel for him," Caldwell said. "I gave him my opinion of what I saw. I also talked and listened to him on what he thought he needed to work on. We collaborated just a little bit.

"I think, No. 1, he’s a very, very talented guy. We talked about what it was going to take to improve. We just hit on a few things. I think the thing that you find out about him is the fact that he is willing to do whatever it takes to get ready to win. That’s the key. I mean, he’s a guy that has talent, he has ability, he has great leadership qualities and I think, without question, you’re going see him develop and then also, certainly, take off in every facet."

Will the Lions be a more disciplined team under Caldwell?

That was one of the things Bill Ford mentioned about him right away.

"I think he’s very calm and very measured, but has a real fire burning inside of him," Ford said. "You also heard him today talk about penalties, turnovers, discipline. I think that’s all things this team could use and Jim will bring."

As for Caldwell:

"The key to it is communication," he said. "I call it preventive medicine.

"If you do a good job setting your standards and setting your parameters and making certain that it’s clear – that there is no, obviously, gray area – that you’re going to find that you’re going to have very few infractions and, when you do, then obviously there are consequences to it. What those consequences are, they vary, just depending upon the offense."

Will Caldwell call plays on offense?

He took over play-calling duties late in the 2012 season and helped the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl. He held the same role last year in Baltimore with very different results as the offense struggled with turnovers and injuries and finished ranked 29th.

He was very successful in a play-calling role in Indianapolis with Peyton Manning.

"Well, we’re going to take a look and see exactly what we want to do in that particular area," Caldwell said. "Here’s one thing you can guarantee: that I’m going to have, obviously, some input in that area. I’m going to be involved deeply in that area and, certainly, with the quarterbacks as well."

When will his coaching staff be in place?

There are a number of names that have been swirling around and Caldwell says he wants the process to come together rather quickly so he and his staff can move forward.

"It’s an ongoing process right now," he said. "At this particular point in time, we’re working and some things will start to take shape here shortly."