MIKE O'HARA

O'HARA: Higher standards mean higher expectations

Posted Jan 1, 2018

For as much as Jim Caldwell was admired for his character and leadership qualities, he didn’t meet the standards that he helped raise in his tenure.

Jim Caldwell stands apart in the long list of Detroit Lions head coaches who were fired for having losing records.

Caldwell wasn’t dismissed Monday after four seasons because of losing. It’s because he didn’t win enough, and he didn’t inspire confidence in ownership and upper management that he would.

Higher standards mean higher expectations, and for as much as he was admired for his character and leadership qualities, Caldwell didn’t meet the standards that he helped raise in his tenure.

Caldwell did a lot to be proud of in his four years. Not the least of it is a culture change throughout the franchise that will let the next head coach inherit a team that is in much better condition than the one Caldwell took over in 2014.

Caldwell had three winning seasons out of four, an overall won-loss record of 36-28 in the regular season and two playoff appearances, both as a wild card.

However, the Lions did not win a playoff game, and in 2014 and ’16 they were outplayed by the Packers in final-game showdowns for the NFC North title. The Packers won both, and the coveted home-field advantage to start the playoffs.

Quinn made it plain in his press conference Monday afternoon that as much as he admired Caldwell’s character, he did not think he could lead the Lions to the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl.

“I think we had more than a competitive team to compete for championships,” Quinn said. “We didn’t get there. We worked at it for two years. We didn’t get there.”

Asked directly if the roster was capable of producing better than the 9-7 won-loss records it posted the last two seasons, Quinn hesitated slightly before answering firmly: “Yes.”

Some individual plays and breakdowns in games bothered Quinn, but more alarming was being badly outplayed for long stretches in some games in losses to the Saints, Vikings, Ravens and Bengals.

“I think that’s a big part of why I’m standing here today,” Quinn said. “There were games we could have, would have, should have won, and we didn’t.

“This is a results business. This is wins and losses. You can talk about all the individual plays, all the individual players, staff. You can talk about all that stuff, it comes down to winning games and winning championships.”

Where the franchise stands as Quinn begins the search for Caldwell’s successor is a tribute to how Caldwell elevated the team’s profile. Quinn has a running head start to continue to build a more competitive team.

In that regard, the mandate for Caldwell’s successor is clear: Win division titles and win playoff games. The Lions’ last division title was in 1993, and their last playoff win was in the divisional round of the 1991 season.

“No question, the standards are raised,” said veteran safety Glover Quin. “That’s what you what. That’s what you expect. You can’t reach a super high goal if you’re not reaching for it and expect to get there.

“The standards are set. We didn’t achieve them with Coach Caldwell, but the standards don’t change.”