The Detroit Lions selected Jim Caldwell to be their new head coach after missing out on their main target, Ken Whisenhunt. Caldwell had a stellar interview with the Lions, being greatly prepared as a college student would for an exam. Caldwell’s inheriting a team blooming with young, sparkling talent. The situation now for Detroit is much different than in 2009, coming off of an 0-16 season filled with rocks and stones on the roster. Caldwell must win immediately. It would be unacceptable for Detroit — who blooms with talent — to miss the playoffs his first season. Consistency and continuity must be established.
Here are four things Caldwell must accomplish. If done right, he’ll be successful and embraced for them:
1. Correct Matthew Stafford: It’s a team effort, but the quarterback position cannot be undermined in today’s league. Without a legitimate play-caller behind center, a team perishes. The NFL’s evolved into a passing league; Stafford needs to improve. He needs to analyze defenses at a higher level while taking care of the football. His footwork isn’t always the greatest, causing misfires and interceptions. It’s not about getting Stafford to throw for immense yardage, rather getting him to make the right throws when it matters the most. Stafford has the tools; he’s a knife that needs sharpening. Many teams have mediocre talent, but glide into the playoffs because of stellar quarterback play. If Stafford’s corrected, the Lions are in great shape to take the sleigh by the reigns for rich success.
2. Teach This Team Discipline: If the Lions continue their antics with penalties, they can forget about being playoff-caliber. Disciplined behavior wins games; limiting penalties allows capitalization of opportunities. The Lions lead the league in penalties over the last few seasons. Penalties are a dangerous habit, plaguing teams like a raged virus. A team cannot be consistent if they are repetitively shooting themselves in the foot, taking away big plays and yardage from penalties.
3. Be A Leader: This is one of the biggest actions that needs to be brought to life; leadership is something this Detroit locker room’s been deprived of. The Lions are a talented team lacking mental toughness. Detroit’s experienced two horrendous back-to-back late-season collapses, failing to pick themselves up. It seemed as if there wasn’t a confidence in the team that would rebound them from damaging failures. Caldwell needs to earn this team’s respect, so they’ll buy into his stock. He needs to be a firm leader in the locker room that guys respect. The men in Honolulu blue need to pride the fact that he fronts their sidelines. His leadership and confidence needs to be vibrant, radiating onto the players. If he can be an admirable leader, Lions players’ potential will be maximized.
4. Have Accountability: If something isn’t right, players need to take accountability. Stafford can’t feel it’s okay to throw four picks. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley can’t trot back onto the field after drawing a personal foul penalty. Players need to comprehend that for every action, there’s a reaction. Detroit hasn’t had accountability, which’s a reason they’re stuck in mediocrity with laughter upon them. Holding everyone accountable will force them to be more conscious of themselves along with more responsible.
Being a head coach in the NFL is more than just football smarts; it’s being a leader that holds the fort together. Caldwell’s sharp enough with his X’s and O’s already; he needs to revive Stafford, have discipline, be an admirable leader, and teach accountability. The Lions have enough talent to win. Caldwell’s football knowledge can suffice this team; it’s the culture that needs to be changed; if changed, the Lions will be a monster opposing teams lower their heads to.