Quinn convinced Caldwell is 'right man' to lead Lions

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

After days of consideration, Lions general manager Bob Quinn decided Jim Caldwell will be the coach with which he starts his tenure in Detroit, the team announced Friday morning.

Quinn and Caldwell met multiple times this week as the new GM tried to determine whether he could work with Caldwell. The two of them had not met in person until a brief interaction Monday before Quinn’s introductory news conference.

“As I stated Monday, I was looking forward to the opportunity to get to know Jim,” Quinn said in a statement. “After spending a significant amount of time together, it is clear that our football philosophies are very similar.

“Consequently, I am convinced he is the right man to lead our football team moving forward.”

With Caldwell returning, most of his staff will likely remain, including offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will probably be back, too, unless he lands the head coaching job with the Titans.

Caldwell led the Lions to an 11-5 finish in 2014 before a 1-7 start led to a 7-9 finish in 2015, but with an 18-14 record, the Lions won more games in Caldwell’s first two years than under any previous coach in franchise history.

“I am obviously thrilled that I will continue to lead this football team,” Caldwell said in a statement. “I genuinely appreciate the faith Bob has shown in me, and I really look forward to working together.

“As I’ve said before, I truly love coaching the Lions and, while I’ve only been here two years, I have grown to love our fans, the City of Detroit, and the people of Detroit and Michigan.”

Although Quinn said the decision would be his and his alone, it surely will please owner Martha Firestone Ford.

“I love Jim Caldwell, but I don’t want to answer that question,” she said Monday when asked about the coach’s future.

During his introductory news conference Monday, Quinn said he wanted to evaluate Caldwell’s entire body of work as a coach to determine if he was the right man to coach the Lions, and his conclusion was to retain Caldwell.

“Jim’s entire body of work is impressive,” Quinn said in a statement. “Not only did he lead the Lions to the playoffs his first season here, but when you look at how the players responded the second half of last season, under difficult circumstances, it’s clear to me that this team believes in him and responds positively to his leadership.”

Lions players have lauded the work Caldwell has done since he arrived in January 2014, though Quinn said Monday he was unsure how much of a factor that would be in the decision. From being cautious with injured players to shaking each players’ hand before games, the players think he has their best interests at heart.

“Yeah, man, I love him,” wide receiver Calvin Johnson said last month. “I think everybody in the locker room would probably say the same thing. He commands respect, but he doesn’t have to do much.

“It’s just his character, guys gravitate towards him. He’s easily one of my favorite coaches I’ve had.”

Some players shared their excitement about the announcement on Twitter Friday morning.

“So excited to see Coach Caldwell will return to coach this team,” running back Ameer Abdullah wrote. “In such little time he's taught me so much. Truly a remarkable man.”

Defensive end Darryl Tapp shared a tweet of the news with thumbs up and clapping emojis.