The Detroit Lions finished the season 9-8. The city is a buzz with excitement for the future. Dan Campbell is being praised around the NFL and here in the Motor City. Not too long ago, Jim Caldwell was fired for going 9-7. The quote being “That’s not good enough.”
If you are from Detroit, I’m sure you seen the meme about Dan Campbell vs Jim Caldwell. The main question being “How is one great and the other bad?” On the surface that is a fair question to ask.
I am a Jim Caldwell guy. I defend him all the time against some collogues at Woodward Sports. To me, his numbers speak for themselves. He is the highest regular season win % coach of the last 50 years. Coach Caldwell finished his Lions tenure coaching 64 games with a 36-28 record. That is a 56.3 win percentage. He also made it to the playoffs 50% of the time. He had the Detroit Lions playing at a level I had never seen in my life. But that wasn’t good enough for Detroit for some reason.
Jim had to fight though losing Ndomakong Suh and Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson. He was able to keep the Lions competitive and in the playoff hunt every season.
Caldwell detractors will tell you he had poor in game management, blew too many leads, took over a Jim Schwartz Defense, ect, ect. Some of those points I cant argue. But I also understand that no coach is perfect. Caldwell was the best the Lions have had and he reestablished the Lions floor. 9-7 was and is good enough.
Enter Dan Campbell. After Matt Patricia took a flame thrower to the team, culture and success of the Detroit Lions, Dan has come in to right the ship.
That is where the main difference lies. Like I said, I’m a Caldwell guy. But I’m also not foolish enough to just look at the records of Jim and Dan and compare the outcome.
Caldwell took over a much better team than Campbell. Caldwell did not have to reestablish a fighters mentality. Jim Schwartz did what Dan Campbell is doing now right before Caldwell. Dan is now bringing back the fight that this team was sorely missing after the Quinn/Patricia era.
Dan had to start from scratch. This was not a rebuild. This was a complete demolition and teardown.
What Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell have been able to accomplish in a short amount of time is pretty astounding.
Dan Campbell has taken a young team and kept them focused on the bigger picture. Even when the Lions were 1-6 you could tell the team was still playing hard for Campbell. That is hard for any leader to do.
That is one similarity between Caldwell and Campbell, they are both excellent leaders of men. They motivate and treat their guys with respect and it shows on the field.
Dan Campbell’s Lions finished the season 8-2 in their last 10 games. The trend is going up. The players are talking about Detroit being a destination. So its no surprise that Dan is getting all the flowers he deserves.
Jim also deserved flowers and probably a couple more seasons as head coach of the Detroit Lions. But do not use that as an excuse to minimalize what Dan has done in his short 2 seasons.
Jim Caldwell was a good coach, Dan Campbell is a good coach. Lets not let the record tell the story. Celebrate them both and hopefully the Lions front office doesn’t repeat history.
9-8 is good enough, for now.
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