If Jim Caldwell’s name isn’t in the early conversation for NFL coach of the year it should be.
Actually it has started regarding the first-year Detroit Lions coach.
ProFootballTalk.com ranked the Lions sixth in the weekly power rankings this week.
The comment line: “In a year with plenty of viable candidates for coach of the year, Jim Caldwell deserves serious consideration.’’
Gregg Rosenthal on NFL.com also mentions Caldwell as a candidate.
OK, it is early.
Still Caldwell has taken a team that won just one of its final seven games last season and changed its attitude.
Almost more impressive is they are 3-0 with Calvin Johnson sidelined for the last three games.
In recent years, when Johnson didn’t play, you could almost see the shoulders of the healthy Lions droop. They said the right things, but it’s like they had a built-in excuse. “Well we didn’t have Calvin, so that’s why we lost.’’
Caldwell has changed that thinking.
Every coach in every sport at every level talks about “taking it one game at a time.”
Caldwell is more specific.
It’s one day at a time and on Sundays it’s one play or series at a time.
He’s a well-prepared coach with two Super Bowl rings.
Nothing takes him by surprise. He’s got the team prepared for every scenario and it’s up to them to execute.
His calm demeanor on the sidelines spreads to the team. After several months together, the team has taken on his personality.
When he was hired, there were skeptics. He has silenced at least most of them.
The first indication that things were different was during voluntary workouts in the spring. One player, then another and another said the same thing about Caldwell: “He treats us like men.’’
He holds players accountable no matter their spot on the depth charter or draft status. He’s not afraid to call out anyone in a team meeting.
It’s happening behind closed doors, but he rarely will call out a player to the media.
Other early candidates for coach of the year include Arizona Cardinals’ Bruce Arians and San Diego’s Mike McCoy.
Non-candidates include two names who were mentioned for the Lions’ opening. Ken Whisenhunt’s Tennessee Titans are 2-6. Lovie Smith’s Tampa Bay Bucs are 1-6.
It’s looking like the Lions found a good fit in Caldwell.