By Eric Thomas
Introductory press conferences are mixed bags. Hindsight is usually 20/20. Rod Marinelli’s introduction, “Men,” may have seemed great at first but in hindsight the LIons may have hired Farmer Fran from The Waterboy. Caldwell’s introduction was devoid of bluster, but was still pretty remarkable. You can’t take too much from these staged media events, it’s all marketing at the end of the day. In a few years we will see these series of speeches in far better context, but going on what we heard today, the results are pretty encouraging.
Caldwell’s introduction was shockingly personal, much of his opening remarks painted a picture of his background: a son of a UAW worker, man from the Midwest, and a demonstrated commitment to faith and family. He also seemed to address the Lions most yawning gap: discipline. He quoted scripture AND Fielding Yost. He seemed to clearly understand the Lions’ discipline problems, and said they will be corrected. If you absolutely hated this hire, you probably weren’t going to change your mind anyway.
Here were the most encouraging signs from the Jim Caldwell’s introductory press conference:
Lewand: We interviewed a lot of coaches: “some known, some not…There were two finalists.”
This is a little more candid than we expected. Most Lions watchers expected that the team to cagily claim that Caldwell was the only person they really wanted. Credit to them for being candid and not trying to tell us there was only one. Kudos to them for not trying to pull a fast one.
It sounds like the Lions wanted another interview with Wisenhunt…Tennessee had an offer. That’s what appears to have happened. You can believe this or not, its up to you. But the Lions story is that they never actually offered Wisenhunt a job, and Tennessee leapt to make the hire.
Mayhew: “We had a profile…we were looking for a leader of men…someone with Head Coaching experience…he has experience working with quarterbacks. We thought maybe he had exactly what we were looking for…[after going through the process] we realized he had exactly what we need.”
Some people disagree with the importance of Head Coaching experience in the NFL, but this was clearly important to the Lions. It answers why they weren’t interested in interviewing Greg Roman or Darrell Bevell. They didn’t interview anyone else because they thought they had their guy.
Caldwell: “It’s great to be a Detroit Lion.”
They always say this.
Caldwell: “We believe the time is now…right here. Right now.”
No word on if Caldwell is a Jesus Jones fan, but he’s certainly accepting the stakes. This wasn’t a “rebuilding” press conference—Lions fans have heard dozens of those before. Steve Mariucci’s mantra is “building something good” so much that he wound up saying it in local commercials. Caldwell gets no such luxury—he was brought in to make the playoffs in 2014.
Stafford is on the hot seat, Mayhew’s is fully engulfed in flame. Caldwell is expected to win, now. When he was later asked about Matt Stafford, Caldwell said that fans should expect to see coaching results right away. Stafford has to be better. His coach just said he has to be.
Caldwell: “Best job in the league, but the best fit for me.”
Further raising the stakes here. Caldwell isn’t saying anything about building a team or patience. He even quoted scripture in saying he felt like he was destined to don the Honolulu blue.
Caldwell: “We’re going to be a team that is disciplined; focused… Image and identity: Either you create it or somebody is gonna create it for you. We’re going to be smart…we’re…not going to shoot [ourselves] in the foot.”
Obviously, this was the Lions worst problem. Caldwell was clearly speaking to the Lions proclivity towards penalties. Especially when he said that the team wasn’t going to shoot itself in the foot. Where he almost took a veiled shot at Jim Schwartz was the follow up:
Caldwell: “Humility is the glue that brings a team together. Humility, people often times think that’s weakness…in this business? …You better have an ego. But we’re not going to have an ego problem.”
I like this. The Lions have had a massive problem with this. Ndomukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Tony Scheffler, Titus Young when he was here, the list is long of Lions who seem fully and totally committed to self. Caldwell will have no tolerance for it. This is what you wanted to hear. He’s made a commitment to media and fans that the days of the Lions being selfish are over. Let’s hope it works.