TWENTYMAN: Why Jim Caldwell fits with Lions

Posted Jan 14, 2014

The Detroit Lions needed someone who can change the culture of their football team, instantly command the respect of the players and win football games in January, and Jim Caldwell has proven the ability to do all three

Fans seem split on the news of Jim Caldwell replacing Jim Schwartz as the new head coach of the Detroit Lions.

Caldwell isn't a sexy pick. He's not the hot, up-and-coming young prospect. He is, however, exactly what this current roster needs.

Veteran receiver Nate Burleson told the NFL Network this week that the next head coach had to "demand respect" of the players in the locker room.

"Someone with some experience, some wisdom; someone that can demand respect," Burleson said. "It's not necessarily important if you were a head coach before, but just that you have years, that you have a clear understanding about the game of football."

Caldwell is that coach.

He's won two Super Bowls as an assistant coach and took the Indianapolis Colts to another in 2009 as their head coach. He's respected around the NFL from both fellow coaches and players and was the handpicked successor of Tony Dungy in Indianapolis after serving as his associate head coach. Dungy endorsed Caldwell to the Lions as recently as Monday morning.

Caldwell is credited with keeping the locker room together in Indianapolis when that organization suffered through a 2-14 season in 2011, when Peyton Manning missed the entire season due to a neck injury.

Jim CaldwellJim Caldwell (Photo: AP Images)

The Lions were extremely impressed when they received a number of phone calls from former Caldwell players, including Manning, endorsing their former coach.

It really comes down to the fact that Lions team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew aren't interested in winning any press conferences in January. They aren't concerned about the public impression that they missed out on their first choice in Tennessee Titans new head coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Their job is to find someone who can change the culture of this football team, instantly command the respect of the players and the locker room and win football games in September, October, November, December, January and even February.

Caldwell has shown the ability to do all three of those in past stops. That's why he fit the profile.