Saturday, October 10, 2015

The fate of Jim Caldwell

As Detroit Lions' fans surely know, their team is currently 0-4. Arizona's coming to town for a showdown Sunday, and the Cards are really good. The bookies list them as a 2.5 point favorite to beat the Lions. After they were upset at home last week, look for the Cards to bring their A-game to Detroit. The Detroit puddy-tats could easily become 0-5, and hopelessly out of the playoff picture, if they aren't already.

But Lions fans are a strange breed. How else to explain their continued blind loyalty when their team hasn't sniffed a Super Bowl since Super Bowls started? In fact, the last time they won a championship was when a guy named Eisenhower was President, way back in 1957. A full ten years before the first Super Bowl would even be played. Well over a half century ago.

During all that time, the Lions' failures have not only been many, but comical at times. From an absentee owner to an inept front office, to clown coaches, to high draft picks that went bust, to bonehead players making bonehead plays on the field, Larry, Moe and Curly had nothing on these guys when it came to yuks over the years. If there's a way to screw something up, rest assured the Lions will find it. Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard. Nyuk, nyuk.

Jim Caldwell was supposed to change the losing culture of the Lions. So was Jim Schwartz, and Marinelli, and Mariucci, and Ross, and a bunch of other guys that hit town, made millions, and were subsequently sent packing. Given the good old old boy head coaching carousel that has been so prevalent in the NFL in recent times -- as in fired from one team but quickly catch on with another -- Lions' fans might want to note that no head coach from their team has ever landed another such position with another club. EVER. Detroit is where head coaches go to die. Yes, every single one of them thinks they can turn things around, but give them a few years, and they'll be out the door too. The losing culture remains.

Caldwell spouts the usual party line. He's optimistic, says his team will get better because they have talent galore, and it's just a matter of execution and becoming consistent in all phases of the game. Yawn. So did all the other guys.

Lions fans have pointed fingers in a variety of different directions as to who's been responsible for the ineptness over the years. Maybe it was long time owner William Clay Ford. Oops, he's no longer amongst the living. Can't blame him anymore. Matt Millen had his reign of incompetence as GM, as did Russ Thomas before him. They've both been gone for many years. What's happened since can't be their fault.

Is the letter "M" a jinx to Detroit? Marinelli, Mariucci, Matt Millen, and now Martin Mayhew? Could be. But that doesn't explain guys like Wayne Fontes, Daryl Rogers, and Bobby Ross. Monte Clark is a maybe. Yours truly has never seen another NFL head coach in full prayer mode on a game-deciding field goal attempt by his kicker. Alas, it was wide right. Evidently God said request denied. You're the Lions and doomed to eternal damnation -- or at least a few more decades. And so it has come to pass.

Lions fans are still complaining about a blown call against Dallas in a playoff game last year. They need to get over it. Recently, they've been up in arms over another blown call against the Seattle Seahawks that may or may not have cost them the game. They need to get over that too. Right or wrong, it was what it was and is what it is. If it makes them feel better, perhaps they should go to the Detroit Zoo, which isn't even in Detroit, and shout obscenities at the zebras. That would make as much sense as some of the other lame rants they have come up with over the years.

And what it is is 0-4. Whining and excuses don't matter in the NFL. It's about winning. Something the Lions have yet to do this year. I don't want to hear about a tough schedule and/or bad breaks. If a team wants to be a contender, they're supposed to beat the good teams. And gimme a break on the breaks. Last year the Lions caught every break imaginable to make it to the playoffs. Despite the call in Dallas, did anybody in their right mind think the Lions would have prevailed in a subsequent playoff game against the likes of Green Bay on the road? The Lions haven't won in Lambeau since 1991. Please. Or in Seattle last year when the Seahawks were peaking? Pretty please.

But here's the thing. While Detroit fans are busy complaining about past wrongs, they overlook what's right in front of their noses. Jim Caldwell. His history speaks for itself. He's been a successful offensive coordinator for other teams under other successful head coaches, but when handed the reins of command has been a total failure. Let's not forget that when the head coaching carousel was going around following the bloodbath subsequent to the 2013 season, all the other teams had picked their guy before the Lions finally got around to making a decision. Everybody else had passed on him, but Detroit wound up taking Caldwell.

Granted, he had a semi-successful season last year, but for the most part had inherited Jim Schwartz's team and the Lions had an incredibly soft schedule. Outside their own 6 division mandated games, where only Green Bay was a force (Adrian Peterson of the Vikes was out), they only faced two decent teams the entire year. New England and Arizona. The Pats would predictably blow them out, and the Cards got past them even though their starting QB Carson Palmer had gone out with a season ending injury the week before. In London, they had lost the game to Atlanta on a missed field goal attempt, but got a second chance due to a penalty on THEMSELVES? And made it to win? REALLY? Has this ever even happened before?

Back to the present and reality. As mentioned above, the bookies have the Cardinals as a slight favorite to knock off the Lions in Detroit. If that happens and the Lions become 0-5, would Lions fans start zeroing in on Caldwell as their latest culprit? Maybe. But JC would certainly have his defenders. After all, despite how bad the team has been, it's only his first year with his systems fully implemented and his staff all on the same page, as they say. And let's get real. In today's politically correct world, certain people are cut extra slack in the hopes they eventually succeed.

Caldwell's head coaching seat likely wouldn't begin to get warm if the Lions lost to the Cardinals. But if the not-so-good Bears come to Motown the following week and drop the Lions to 0-6 -- don't laugh -- it's entirely possible -- somebody somewhere in the Lions hierarchy is going to have some serious 'splainin to do. And it would start with Jimbo.

The Lions and their media have continually trumpeted how much talent the team has. Matthew Stafford is all this and Calvin Johnson is all that. They've both been around for 7-8 years and have yet to win a single playoff game. Free agent acquisition Golden Tate was an All-Pro and had recently played on a Super Bowl championship team. New running back Ameer Abdullah was supposed to set the world on fire. But the Lions can't seem to score many points. What good are 80 yard drives if they result in a turnover and no points?

Bottom line? No way would the Lions fire Jim Caldwell this year, even if after all the high expectations, they went, say, 6-10, or heaven forbid, 4-12. Given the overall state of the team, either is quite possible. These guys are not good, and forget the playoffs. That's already over this year. Ain't gonna happen.

But if they stumble out of the gate in 2016 like they have this year, old Jimbo, nice guy that he is, might be looking for another job. (Even the owning Ford family comes out of its football coma once every few years to take a look around at what's happening.) As an offensive coordinator, of course.

It's highly unlikely Jim Caldwell will break the mold and become the first former Lions head coach to land another similar job elsewhere. Some things just aren't meant to be.

1 comment:

  1. I think the players quit on Jim.