Speaking freely without naming names, former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has offered an assessment of his successor.
After a blowout loss to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving Day, the Detroit Lions fired head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn. A 13-29-1 record over less than three seasons makes the decision to fire Jim Caldwell and hire Patricia look worse.
In four seasons as the Lions’ head coach, Caldwell was 36-28 with two playoff appearances and three seasons with nine or more wins. Given the history of the franchise, what Caldwell did was notable. But he was not Quinn’s “guy” like Patricia was, given their shared history with the New England Patriots.
Jim Caldwell didn’t name names, but it’s clear who he was talking about
Caldwell appeared on Adam Schefter’s podcast earlier this week. The lead topic of the conversation was obvious, with the episode titled “The NFL Chopping Block” in the wake of Patricia’s firing, and Caldwell offered some thoughts.
“I think leadership is far too underestimated in terms of directing teams, particularly in the National Football League,” Caldwell said. “There are a lot of people who get caught up with those individuals that might try to wow you, in terms of what they might know in terms of knowledge of the game — ‘gurus’ — and have been labeled as such.”
“What it boils down to is being able to lead a team, and not everybody can do that. I think more so than anything else, you got to lead by example. There’s a great book that says, ‘Lead by example, and when all else fails, use words.’ And I believe that.”
Coming off his work as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator, Patricia was easily labeled as a guru. But his interpersonal skills were lacking from the start, with rumors of players not buying in right off the bat, and the results to back it up never came. The way former Lions’ players celebrated his firing is telling (and not surprising).
Caldwell might have some lingering ill-will, since he was fired for a perceived better fit who would theoretically bring more spark in Patricia. But with the ability to speak freely now, the former Lions head coach rightly did not hold back when assessing where his successor fell short.