New GM's meetings with Caldwell secured coach’s return

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Mobile, Ala. — Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he didn’t talk to any players before deciding to retain coach Jim Caldwell.

Instead, Quinn made his decision based on two days full of meetings with the coach, who will return for a third season in Detroit in 2016.

“It was me and Jim sitting in a meeting room, talking football, talking about life, talking about a lot of things,” Quinn said before Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. “I’m not going to get into specifics of every nook and cranny that we talked about, but it was constructive meetings that, after the course of two days and about 10 to 12 hours, I came to that decision.”

The Lions announced on Jan. 15 — four days after hiring Quinn — that Caldwell would remain the head coach. In a statement, Quinn said he realized in the meetings that his football philosophies are similar to those of Caldwell.

“I genuinely appreciate the faith Bob has shown in me, and I really look forward to working together,” Caldwell said in a statement after the announcement.

Caldwell, who has thus far declined interviews at the Senior Bowl, helped the Lions go 11-5 in his first season in 2014 before a first-round postseason loss. In 2015, the Lions finished 7-9, but ended on a 6-2 stretch after a 1-7 start.

Despite the rocky start last season, Caldwell had universal support from the players in the Lions locker room, who have lauded the coach for treating them professionally.

Caldwell will have full control of the coaching staff decisions as he did in his first two years. Quinn said Caldwell was involved in the decision to fire strength and conditioning coaches Jason Arapoff and Ted Rath.

During his introductory news conference, Quinn said he wanted to see if his approach would mesh with Caldwell’s before making a decision about his future.

Among the things Quinn wanted to know about Caldwell was if they could “get a system in place where he can be flexible to the players I bring in to develop them and to kind of mesh them into his offensive and defensive and special teams systems.”

After those meetings, Quinn realized he and Caldwell would be able to build such a system together.