Jim Caldwell should still be the NFL head coach


Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford shakes hands with head coach Jim Caldwell at Ford Field in 2016.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford shakes hands with head coach Jim Caldwell at Ford Field in 2016.
Picture: AP

What can the Rams expect with Matt Stafford?

If you ask his former Lions coach and QB guru Jim Caldwell, the sky’s the limit. And his own past history suggests that he is right.

When asked by Deadspin to share his thoughts on Stafford, Caldwell praised Stafford’s “mental and physical toughness,” “intellectual prowess,” and described Stafford’s character and leadership as well as his abilities.

“Matthew is responsible in every way and shows extreme propriety, accepts responsibility for his mistakes and diverts credit to his teammates and coaches in victory. He has an extremely strong arm, underappreciated mobility, and can accurately throw the ball with speed or touch from various platforms and angles, ”Caldwell said.

No one would know better what Stafford is capable of than Caldwell, as Stafford thrived with him as part of a coaching resume of QB’s success on three different teams.

If you want to predict Stafford’s future with Rams head coach Sean McVay, the best evidence is in the past with Caldwell.

The first thing Caldwell helped Stafford do was the same helped a young Peyton Manning do it, serving as his QB coach – reduce interceptions. In between, as Ravens offensive coordinator Caldwell called all plays in Joe Flacco’s magical run at the 2002 Super Bowl (11 TD / 0 INT).

Matt Stafford Record Under Head Coaches

29-51 Jim Schwartz (2009-2013)

36-28 Jim Caldwell (2014-2017)

14-25-1 Matt Patricia / Bevell (2018-2020)

That is significant, and not a little.

Coaching matters

After the Lions finished 11-21 between 2012 and 2013, Stafford’s stretches of greatness were also combined with criticism of his fundamentals, footwork, arm movement, excessive reliance on the Lions Hall of Famer, Calvin Johnson, and his penchant for forcing coverage shots for interceptions. Back then, some asked “what to do when your star hits a wall? “Others have argued that if he were black, he could be treated more like jameis winston or Vince Young.

Under Caldwell, Stafford’s passer rating jumped from 83.1 in his first five seasons under Jim Schwartz to 93.7, and notably improved to 99.1 in Caldwell’s last 2.5 seasons after a period of adjustment, and a new offensive coordinator Caldwell had previously guided (Jim Bob Cooter).

These were significant ratings punctuated by 20 winning units, a statistic that Stafford led the NFL in three of those four seasons. Under Caldwell, Stafford was 22-15 in close games from a scoreboard, but 20-33-1 without Caldwell. “He’s a smart offensive coach,” Stafford told the Detroit Free Press in 2017. “He puts our team in the right situations to be successful, and that, in turn, helps me.”

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford warms up as coach Jim Caldwell watches in Chicago in 2014.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford warms up as coach Jim Caldwell watches in Chicago in 2014.
Picture: AP

Caldwell employed faster pitches, no stacks, and instead of forcing pitches to Calvin Johnson in the middle of double / triple coverage, he used Stafford in a more extended offense with multiple wide receivers where he felt most comfortable. Golden Tate would immediately become a Pro Bowler in 2014 and post his only three 1,000-yard seasons. Despite Johnson’s surprise retirement after the 2015 season, Stafford’s growth continued when Marvin Jones would join Tate as a 1,000-yard partner in 2017.

Pro Football Focus predicted the Lions would win four games in 2016 Y six games in 2017. By anyone objective measure based on roster talent, Caldwell / Stafford’s 9-win teams in 2016 and 2017 were minor miracles, masking monstrous holes that included an invisible passing run, backup running backs as starters (Ameer Abdullah / Theo Riddick / Zach Zenner) and a lack of Pro Bowl playmakers, a staple of playoff teams.

Well, those holes just got repaired. How will Stafford adjust to a new team?

“Matthew is extremely bright and can adapt to any system or style of offense,” says Caldwell. “He has shown [that] while in Detroit under multiple offensive coordinators and head coaches.

“He will be able to do whatever Coach McVay requires. But Matthew is very self-aware and not shy about expressing the various concepts that suit his eyes or accentuate his skill set. They will love it in Los Angeles “

This is not undue and biased praise. A closer look at the Caldwell / Stafford Lions years supports his assessment.

The Rams don’t need to modify too much. Stafford can be a great successful quarterback under McVay because he was already under Caldwell with a lot less surrounding talent except for flashes.

Defense matters

Stafford will leave the Lions’ last-place defense to join last year’s number one defense, anchored by superstars Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. The only year Stafford played superior defense was Caldwell’s first year in 2014, when the Lions went 11-5 with a No. 3 defense at 15th from the previous year.

That Lions defense was based on the closest thing to Donald in 2014: Ndamukong Suh. But the Lions didn’t re-sign Suh the following year, and they haven’t been in a rush for passes since. Stafford has had to pitch the Lions to victory ever since. No more.

“Caldwell was the answer” Ndamukong Suh tweeted in October, “And he didn’t have the ample opportunity to completely leave his fingerprints on the computer.

No, he did not do it. But McVay will.

The Rams adding a 2017-level Stafford to their 2014 Lions defense may be a recipe for the Super Bowl.

Rushed yards are important

The Rams will have the kind of support for Stafford that he has never had in his career with the Lions: a rushing attack. The Rams’ run quietly gained more than 2,000 yards last year, a mark the Lions haven’t even smelled since Barry Sanders.

The running back was the Lions’ biggest need in the 2017 draft, but general manager Bob Quinn picked Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis and Florida cornerback Teez Tabor in the first two rounds over Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara, the next two. runners taken after those selections. Davis was no longer a regular starter in 2020 and Tabor is out of the NFL.

Instead of writing better, Bob Quinn fired Caldwell despite massive support from his players.

GM Support Matters

Quinn said now famous “9 wins are not enoughBefore hiring his friend Matt Patricia. With Patricia, the Lions also only had nine wins, except it took two years.

The answer should be obvious. When a 6-win talent coach wins nine games, you give him more talent to make it to the Super Bowl, a place Caldwell visited as an assistant head coach. Head coach and offensive coordinator on three previous occasions.

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell greets quarterback Matthew Stafford before a game against the Giants in 2017.

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell greets quarterback Matthew Stafford before a game against the Giants in 2017.
Picture: AP

If Quinn’s hiring of Patricia was classic NFL nepotism, the fact that Caldwell was rejected by the rest of the NFL for four hiring cycles is classic NFL racism. Caldwell’s success with Peyton Manning, Flacco and Stafford triples the type of success that marks white quarterback guru coaches with indelible media “genius” labels and lifetime employment in the league.

In contrast, the Rams’ front office is willing to go all out and trade for playmakers, as they did when acquiring Jalen Ramsey, and trading two first-round picks to the Lions for Stafford, a likely win for both teams. .

Leadership matters

Yesterday, a Detroit Free Press article was titled: “Matthew Stafford Never Showed His Desire for Greatness.”

Jim Caldwell disagrees.

“Matthew is a great leader with an insatiable desire to win,” says Caldwell (before article). “Insatiable” is a strong word. Caldwell added: “The Rams are building an extraordinarily selfless father, husband and teammate who serves the community in which he lives and works.”

That leadership was shown in 2020, when Stafford became the highest-profile white player to kneel in solidarity with his black teammates over multiple games. Stafford wrote an article in The Players’ Tribune called: “We cannot limit ourselves to football.”

Police brutality, white privilege, racism, it’s all real. ” Stafford wrote. “It is time that we stop pretending, or defending ourselves, or just closing our eyes to what is right in front of us. And it’s not that this is just our story. This is right now.

“These are not political problems. These are human problems. It should not be seen as a political statement to discuss this issue honestly. ”

Either way, Stafford is showing what leadership looks like, and despite “media distraction” lies that Colin Kaepernick allegedly split the locker room, his own 49ers teammates voted him a leadership award for best teammate in 2016. Has the media considered Jared Goff standing while surrounded by his Black Rams teammates on his knees to be more divisive for his team?

Upon arrival, Caldwell said Stafford had the skills to be cool, and in 2016 Stafford was being discussed as an MVP candidate. At the time, Caldwell said Peyton Manning “will certainly wear a Hall of Fame jacket and another that is on the right track.” The other was Stafford.

If the Rams return to the Super Bowl, Sean McVay won’t have to make a lot of adjustments except to let Stafford be the quarterback he already was. And you might want to start by calling Jim Caldwell.

Who knows, if they become friends, an NFL team might even sign him.

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