Caldwell sees similarities between Manning, Stafford

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Similarities?

There can’t really be similarities, can there?

“I absolutely do see it,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said of Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford. “There are a lot of similarities.”

Speaking with Tony Dungy in an exclusive interview for NBC’s “Football Night in America” ahead of Sunday night’s Lions-Broncos game at Ford Field, Caldwell broke down the Manning-Stafford comparisons. And he’s in a prime position to do so, having coached Manning for much of his career, and now having coached Stafford.

Caldwell was Manning’s quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach with the Indianapolis Colts from 2002-08, and then the head coach from 2009-11.

He’s in his second year as Stafford’s head coach.

Obviously, Stafford, with two playoff appearances but no postseason wins in his first seven seasons, is no Manning, who has a Super Bowl ring, five MVP awards and 14 appearances on the Pro Bowl roster.

But Caldwell clearly believes Stafford, 27, can, someday, have accolades like Manning, 39.

“He can throw the ball all day long, but really needs to refine some things,” Caldwell told Dungy. “That was one of the reasons I thought it was so important to get Jim Bob Cooter here. Jim Bob obviously worked with Peyton and I in Indianapolis.

“He’s teaching the exact same rhythm of throws, exact same drills and technique that we worked on through those years. I think you will start to see some of those things pay off.”

Manning is off to a 2-0 start in his third season with the Broncos, after a 14-year career with the Colts came to an end after he missed the entire 2011 season to a neck injury.

With Manning out, the Colts lost their first 13 games and finished 2-14, costing Caldwell his job.

A year later, Manning was in Denver.

And two years later, Caldwell was in Detroit.

Sunday was to be their first team squaring off.

“One of the things that we know about him is that he’s the most diligent worker there is ... and understands what makes his unit go,” said Caldwell, who said there was zero communication between he and Manning leading up to this week’s game, “that’s the way he operates.

“People keep saying the Broncos’ offense is struggling and Peyton is struggling, but all I know is that he keeps winning.

“It’s our job to stop him.”

The Lions’ would be wise to do so, to avoid starting the season 0-3 with a super-tough test looming next week in Seattle.

Everyone knows the odds already are long to make the playoffs after starting 0-2; NFL history says as much.

An 0-3 start a year after making the playoffs would really be a kick in the stomach — and, certainly, start the “Same Old Lions” whispers among fans.

“It’s a new era,” Caldwell said in the NBC interview. “But it doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes you go through the ebb and flow of the season. Sometimes you start slow. When you start slow in this league, you will usually end up an L and not a W.

“We have to get accustomed to making sure that we start fast and make certain we finish.”

That’s something Manning has done so well over the years, while Stafford isn’t quite there yet.


There can’t possibly be similarities, can there?