Culbreath: Coaching matters in Detroit hireWritten by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Detroit Lions hire of Jim Caldwell spurred a bit of discussion in the office regarding what a coach means to a team.
No one I talked to was all that thrilled about Caldwell’s hire the day it was announced. A terrible run as head coach at Wake Forest? Three years in Indianapolis? Yes, he was handpicked by Tony Dungy to take over the Colts, and even now Dungy is singing his praises as he dons the Honolulu Blue. He’s been to three Super Bowls, and won two. He’s clearly got a pedigree, right?
There’s that 2-14 season that bothers me.
If you don’t remember, that was his third year in Indianapolis. Peyton Manning had neck surgery in the offseason, and simply was unable to play. Dipping into the pile of leftover QBs, they pulled Kerry Collins out of the dump and promptly had the worst season since Manning’s rookie year. Caldwell was fired, Manning was released and enigmatic owner Jim Irsay unofficially retired the 18 jersey.
(For the sake of brevity, I’m not going to talk about how the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII under Caldwell’s watch as offensive coordinator, only to have an absolutely terrible offensive season this year.)
Yeah, I know that it’s hard to win when your franchise quarterback can’t play. But isn’t that when good coaches are supposed to shine?
A good coach, to me, gets more out of his players. Whether through motivation, play selection, or game management, they can take good players and squeeze that extra bit out of them. They can win with superstars, absolutely, but they also know that the game can’t run solely through one person. A good coach knows how to build a team around its strengths, and how to minimize its weaknesses. A bad coach puts his eggs in one basket, and then shrugs his shoulders when the eggs break.
You want to know what other coach has a phenomenal winning record? Mike Brown. He won more than 66 percent of his games as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2005-10. He had similar success in Los Angeles as the coach of the Lakers. Then why is his second stint with the Cavs going so poorly? Could it be because he had the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant on his rosters?
I’m trying not to smear Caldwell before he gets a crack at the job. After all, the guy who’s won a thousand Super Bowls with the New England Patriots only did so after getting crushed in Cleveland. But what Bill Belichik was able to do in Foxboro was adjust his gameplan when franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe went down, and they were forced to start a little-known passer from Michigan named Tom Brady. Caldwell hasn’t shown me the ability to coach, just the ability to let superstars do their thing. Sure, Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson can play catch until the cows come home. But when that stops working, what next?
“Shaggy” Matt Culbreath is sports director for 1370 WSPD. Email him at email@example.com.
Tags: Bill Belichik, Calvin Johnson, Cleveland Cavaliers, Colts, Detroit Lions, Drew Bledsoe, Honolulu Blue, Indianapolis, Jim Caldwell, Jim Irsay, Kerry Collins, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, los Angeles, Matt Stafford, New England Patriots, Peyton Manning, Ravens, Super Bowl, Super Bowl XLVII, Tom Brady, Tony Dungy, Wake Forest