Former Lions Coach Joins Panthers Forming ‘Interesting’ Staff Addition

Jim Caldwell

Getty Jim Caldwell looks on during a Lions-Cowboys game in 2016.

The Detroit Lions haven’t had a habit of seeing their former head coaches land other jobs through the years, but that changed a bit on Tuesday, February 14.

Former Lions boss Jim Caldwell has finally found himself back in the NFL. While Caldwell is not going to be a head coach, he is joining the Carolina Panthers in an advisory role.

The team broke the news with a tweet, posting that they had hired Caldwell to a role within the franchise as a senior assistant.

Within the role, Caldwell will apparently report to new head coach Frank Reich and will offer support to the team in all three phases; on offense, defense, and special teams.

Caldwell, who has had interviews with teams in the past as recently as the 2020 cycle with the Houston Texans, was still looking to coach in the league. That’s something he confirmed when speaking with The 33rd Team late last year.

The former Indianapolis Colts boss went one-on-one with the site and confirmed that he has a desire to get back into coaching, and he has even put off other opportunities to see where things might lead in that avenue, even though his time may be close to being up.

“I have a strong desire to do so, to get back in the league as a head football coach. I’ve had numerous opportunities to do other things which I wanted to refrain from until I’ve exhausted every avenue in this area and I’m probably about my last cycle I would think coming up,” Caldwell said.

Though he isn’t going to be a head coach this time around, with this new role, Caldwell has a new job in the league. He also gets a new chance to impact the game of football.

Panthers’ Caldwell Hire Praised By Media

After the move to hire Caldwell, the decision for the Panthers to hire the former coach was getting praised by plenty in the media.

Chief amongst them, ESPN NFL analyst Mina Kimes tweeted that she believes the Panthers are putting something “interesting” together with their new coaching staff.

“Man the Panthers are putting something really interesting together…,” Kimes tweeted.

Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy agreed. As he said, he believed the move of the Panthers to add Caldwell was a “home run” for the team, and a move that was long overdue for a team to add him.

“Home run add for Panthers. But makes no sense it took three years for some team to hire Jim Caldwell,” Nagy tweeted.

When Caldwell gets to work, it’s clear folks believe him to be someone who will be able to help a Carolina team that’s been adrift in recent years, finishing 11-27 under Matt Rhule, who was fired in 2022.

Caldwell’s Career With Lions Successful

To this day, Caldwell still represents one of the bigger debates within the Detroit fanbase. Many believe he should not have lost his job when he did in 2018 because the team was close, while others contended he had peaked in the role.

Caldwell wasn’t the Lions’ best coach historically, but he was the most solid in terms of recent history. Caldwell was famously 36-28 with the Lions which included two playoff births in 2014 and 2016. Though Caldwell was 0-2 in the playoffs, at the very least he made the tournament with the Lions, which is more than Matt Patricia could say. So far, Dan Campbell hasn’t yet cracked the postseason, either.

Historically speaking, Caldwell is pretty solid as a boss. The Colts cracked the Super Bowl with him at the helm in 2010, and overall, Caldwell has a record of 62-50 as a head coach in the league. He also claimed a pair of Super Bowl wins as a coordinator, winning Super Bowl 41 with Indianapolis and Super Bowl 47 with the Baltimore Ravens.

During Caldwell’s time in Detroit, players loved him and continue to defend him for his work to this day like cornerback Darius Slay. As Slay said on the All Things Covered podcast in 2021, he never understood the move to get rid of Caldwell.

“My thing is, I don’t know why you would replace a guy like that,” Slay said on the show. “Very consistent, two playoff (appearances) in four years.”

DARIUS SLAY STILL DOESN'T UNDERSTAND WHY THE LIONS FIRED JIM CALDWELLDarius Slay explains what Jim Caldwell brought to the Lions and how he changed Detroit's culture. Slay can't explain why the team fired Caldwell after 4 seasons. #JimCaldwell #DetroitLions #DariusSlay #Lions #MattPatricia #BobQuinn #DanCampbell #JimCaldwellLions #NFL #AllThingsCovered SUBSCRIBE TO THIS CHANNEL: Visit the CBS Sports Store to buy All Things Covered merch: AUDIO…2021-12-03T16:00:16Z

Caldwell built a pretty strong bond with the roster that was never captured under Patricia, and took until Campbell came along to come close to replicating.

There isn’t much doubt that Caldwell will certainly be the kind of leader that can sufficient attention in the locker room even at age 67. He will join the Panthers and look to help them turn things around.

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