The Detroit Lions are suffering in a big way as they struggle down the stretch of what looks like another lost season, and while they might soon have to ponder who takes over at coach, an old friend has offered his own pitch.
Instead of doing a big national coaching search, the team should simply re-hire Jim Caldwell immediately. ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky, a former Lions quarterback under Caldwell, hopped on Twitter and shared this thought almost immediately after Detroit’s ugly defeat at the hands of the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) November 22, 2020
It’s not likely Caldwell gets re-hired in Detroit of course, but this doesn’t discount the fact that many including Orlovsky are now calling for major changes to be made in the Motor City. Patricia’s had a tough go of it as coach lately, and it’s not likely to be the end of folks calling for him to be fired.
Calling for Caldwell’s return is a new wrinkle that will be unpopular for some, but it only serves to show how desperate things have suddenly become in Detroit with regards to the team and their staff.
Jim Caldwell One of Lions’ Best Coaches
Naturally, Caldwell wasn’t the best coach in franchise history, but he was the best in recent history statistically. Caldwell was 36-28 with the Lions which included 2 playoff births during his tenure from 2014-2017. Though Caldwell was 0-2 in the playoffs, at the very least he made the tournament which is more than Matt Patricia can currently say for his tenure, which started in 2018. It was a run of consistency plenty of Lions fans wish they could get back to now.
During Caldwell’s time in Detroit, players loved him and continue to defend him for his work to this day, as Orlovsky continues to show. He built a pretty strong bond with the roster that some could argue has not been captured under Patricia to this point in time.
Dan Orlovsky Roasted Matt Patricia Before
Orlovsky has long been unimpressed with how things have gone under Patricia’s watch. Speaking over a month ago on Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin after an ugly Detroit loss against the New Orleans Saints, Orlovsky spoke openly about the end of Jim Caldwell’s tenure with the Lions and what’s happened so far under Patricia and let the Detroit coach have a major piece of his mind.
“To come in and say that you had a lot of work to do is completely false. It’s a bunch of trash!”
— Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin (@KeyJayandZ) October 5, 2020
Here’s Orlovsky’s take:
“First of all, we were 11-5 in 2014, we were a really good football team. 2015 we go 7-9, it’s because we turned the football over, but the last 8 games we were 7-1. It flipped our season around. The next 2 years we were 9-7 and I believe in Week 17 we were playing Green Bay for the division. To come in and say you had a lot of work to do, is completely false. It’s a bunch of trash. Because that wasn’t the case in Detroit. We were a good football team, Matthew Stafford was playing as good as he has in his career, that was because of coach Caldwell. We were an organization that was ascending. He was building. The culture was amazing, the culture was fantastic. You had a winning record in 3 of your 4 years, the coach was great, the quarterback was playing really good football. For him to come in and say there was a lot of work to be done was a bunch of trash. Second of all, you know what coach Caldwell wasn’t? A finger pointer. It’s wrong. It’s false. For (Patricia) to go and say, at 10-25, ‘well before I got here it was bad.’ Here’s the thing coach, no it wasn’t. We have eyewitness accounts of it not being bad. It was actually really good. It was a great place to be, a great place to work. We loved playing for coach Caldwell and it was a good football team. Was it great? No. Here’s the thing. When he was hired, the comment was we need to take the next step as an organization. It was built for growth, not regression. And they have regressed massively.”
Orlovsky is right. While the Lions may not have been elite under Caldwell, they seemed primed to take the next step following his departure, and things have gotten markedly worse. That’s a black eye for Patricia and his staff, who have had trouble getting their program on the ground and running successfully in Detroit when the team looked primed to be able to jump forward in the future.
While Caldwell’s Lions struggled in plenty of ways, it’s getting hard to argue that the team was never as bad or as ill-prepared as they look under Patricia. While it might not be true the team should hire him back, it certainly does prove that the coach was much better than many may have given him credit for.