By Jeff Riger

Well, it’s official.  The Lions have a new coach, Jim Caldwell, and he spoke strongly at his introductory press conference Wednesday, saying, “anything short of the Super Bowl is unacceptable.”

How many coaches have shown optimism like that?  In Detroit?  None that I remember.

I know it’s just coach speak, but it caught my attention.

The one thing everybody does know is, if the Lions are to have any chance of appearing in a Super Bowl one day, they will have to do it on the powerful arm of Matthew Stafford, an arm that has been way too inconsistent over the years.

But Caldwell should be able to fix that, at least that’s what his resume indicates.  He helped Peyton Manning and he fixed Joe Flacco, so can he do the same with Stafford?  Is Stafford fixable?

“I’m not certain I would use the word fixable.  Don’t attribute that one to me,” Caldwell said.  “I do think that the guy has ability, that he’s going to be a very fine player in this league and it won’t be long, because I do think that he has the commitment to do so.”

And, I agree with Caldwell…

Stafford does have the ability to be one of the best QB’s in the league.  We have seen it with our own eyes.  Unfortunately, he also has the ability to find himself as a giant bust if he continues to play like he did in the second half of the 2013 season.

It’s that commitment Caldwell mentioned, that what I wonder about.  Does Stafford have that “I must win” mentality?  Is he a winner or is he just content making a lot of money and occasionally thinking about winning?

Caldwell did have a good point to maybe aid in my search for an answer.

“He’s just like any developing guy,” Caldwell said.  Take a look at some of the great ones in their 5th year.  Just take a look at them, look at the numbers then look at them in their 9th and 10th year.  You see that they just start to grow and develop and they keep going and I think that’s the stage that he’s at right now.  He’s going to keep developing and he’s going to turn into an outstanding player.”

I recently have been convinced that Stafford is not the QB that many continue to believe he is.  I don’t believe that he’s that franchise, elite signal caller that will lead this team to a championship.  However, Caldwell is right.  It has only been 5 seasons, he is just 23 years old and most importantly he now has a different set of eyes watching him, mentoring him and hopefully challenging him.  It seems like the old regime was more interested in coddling him.

I was hoping that Caldwell could help people understand where the majority of Stafford’s mistakes come from.  However the new head coach wasn’t ready to give an opinion just yet.  “You know at this game, because of the speed of the game, you know everything has to be considered.  I couldn’t tell you because of the fact that I have not studied the film through the point where I can stand here before you and tell you every little nuance that’s involved there. But I can tell you this. He has talent, he has ability, he’s going to be a good football player for us,” Caldwell said.”

OK, I don’t love blind faith in Stafford becoming a good QB, but I do understand that Caldwell has not been on the job even 24 hours, so he deserves a chance to develop an informed opinion.

Before the Lions latest head coach presser, I was sure Caldwell and Stafford would not succeed in Detroit.  However, after listening to all the parties involved on Wednesday afternoon besides Stafford, I now will take the wait-and-see approach, which for a Lions cynic like myself is definitely progress.

Caldwell and the Lions said everything right at Ford Field on Wednesday.  Now it’s up to them to show us on that same field that things have changed, and changing Stafford is where it all starts.

“Anything short of the Super Bowl is unacceptable.”

That is a bold statement by the new coach, but is it possible?



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