By Ashley Scoby
As Lions head coach Jim Caldwell stumbled through his press conference Monday announcing the firings of three offensive coaches, whether he would admit it or not, he had to be wondering if he was next.READ MORE: Charging Decision Anticipated For Parents Of Oxford High School Shooting Suspect
The details of who made the decision to let go of Joe Lombardi, Terry Heffernan and Jeremiah Washburn are murky. At first Caldwell spoke as part of a “we” – “We were still evaluating. So after evaluating and taking a good look at where we are and where we need to go, we made some changes. We have released ….”
Caldwell changed track later to make it seem like it was his singular decision. He denied being told to make changes to his staff, and he said that he had not spoken to ownership before making the moves.
“I should say, ‘I’ but it’s always – obviously nothing is ever done in a vacuum,” he said. “But it’s my decision, I’m in charge of our staff, I made those decisions.”
But Caldwell isn’t in charge of all personnel decisions, including the status of his own job.
Did Caldwell make these moves in an effort to put forth a few scapegoats and try to save his own job? Was he told to make changes, or risk being fired too? Caldwell has been steady in his “I believe in Joe” philosophy, so what changed? From the time between Caldwell’s first press conference (at 12:30 p.m.) and the news of the firings four hours later (a window in which he said he “continued to evaluate”), what changed?
Caldwell surely didn’t suddenly decide Lombardi’s entire offensive philosophy wasn’t good enough anymore. It’s produced virtually the same results all season.
Monday reeked of a head coach desperately trying to save face and provide a scapegoat – either because he could sense his own firing coming, or because he was told that it was coming.READ MORE: Southfield Student Who Brought Loaded Gun To School Wednesday Charged As Juvenile
It wouldn’t be the first time Caldwell has failed as a head coach. His first head coaching position came in 1993 at Wake Forest, a school where he spent eight seasons and went 26-83. He produced one winning season, in 1999.
From there, he rode Tony Dungy’s coattails from Tampa Bay to eventually becoming the head coach in Indianapolis, Dungy’s successor.
And in Indianapolis is where the lightning bolt struck. Caldwell is considered one of the most successful rookie head coaches in NFL history, after he (and future first-ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning) went 14-2 and earned a trip to the Super Bowl.
Within two years (and a Manning departure), Caldwell had produced a mirror image of that first season, going 2-14 and was fired. He had some success as an offensive coordinator in Baltimore (where the Ravens won the 2013 Super Bowl), then earned his second NFL head coaching position in Detroit.
The rest is history: an 11-5 Lions season and a playoff berth, then a complete implosion so far in Year 2. Has Caldwell shown enough in his history to warrant continued belief in his head coaching abilities?
That decision really will come from the “we” Caldwell spoke of, who he would have everyone believe he’s not in contact with – ownership.
With fans losing patience, time really is running out for Caldwell and the rest of his staff to turn a 1-6 season around.MORE NEWS: Ravens-Steelers Preview: Pittsburgh 'Just Not That Dominant Team On Sunday,' Says CBS Sports' James Lofton
Said Lions offensive guard Manny Ramirez, who watched his position coaches get fired on Monday: “It definitely has to change just for the simple fact that if they got rid of the offensive coordinator and the offensive line coach, who’s next?”