"It's great to be a Detroit Lion."
With that phrase and a smile, another new era in Detroit Lions football began anew on Wednesday, as the team introduced their 26th head coach, Jim Caldwell, at Ford Field. In their opening statements, team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew reaffirmed that despite a long process, Caldwell best fit the team's established plan for selecting their next leader.
After taking the podium, Caldwell himself said he believed that the Lions represented the best job in the league, as well as the best fit for him. Reaffirming his Midwestern roots and blue collar background, Caldwell said he was ready to get to work, and believed he has a team in the Lions ready to contend for a championship right now. Using an array of motivational quotes spanning from the Bible to former Michigan head coach Fielding Yost, Caldwell conveyed a sense of quiet strength and seriousness when discussing his vision for bringing a winning football brand to the Motor City. Below are some highlights from Caldwell's question and answer session with the media.
On Lions' Quarterback Matthew Stafford: "He's a very talented guy. There were some reports we sat down an watched film together, that was not the case. We just sat and talked. We talked about what it takes to improve. I think the thing you find out about him is he is willing to do whatever it takes to get ready to win. That's the key. He has ability, he has great leadership qualities and I think you'll see him develop and also take off in every facet."
What Is The Key To Instilling Discipline In A Football Team? "The key to it is preventive medicine; it has to be clear there is no gray area and there are consequences. What those consequences are, they very."
What Of Your Sometimes Boring Sideline Demeanor? "I think the camera catches you at different times. I'm not a guy who will run up and down jumping and up and down and screaming. There's a lot of great coaches who don't run up and down, screaming and yell, kicking the hat."
How Can You Prevent Fourth Quarter Meltdowns? "It's mental toughness. Mental toughness can be developed. It can be developed because you expect the same type of preparation no matter the situation. Though we have a wonderful opportunity to know what elements we have in our building, we have to be gritty enough to go outside and battle the other teams, as well."
Do You See Anything Striking In Stafford's Game So Far? "I did look at a lot of film. I gotta look at him further. I got to dig deep and get a real sense of things. We do have parameters that go with developing quarterbacks. He has talent, we just have to bring that talent to the forefront. I think coaching is about empathy and expertise. You have to put him in position to do the things he does well."
How Is The Progression Of Your Staff Coming? "It's an ongoing process right now. You'll see a couple things coming soon."
Sum Up Your Offensive And Defensive Philosophy: "Things we want to make certain we do, we want to control the line of scrimmage, run the ball, pass protect and not have an immense amount of penalties and turnovers. we want to be top three in that category. We are a team which will use the audible, making sure we have the chalk last. We're a team that does a lot at the line of scrimmage at a fast pace. From a defensive standpoint, we're a talented group, which doesn't mean we don't have a lot of work to do. We'll line up in a 4-3 and be a team that can put pressure on the passer. We're gonna mix it up and give a variety of looks between blitzing and playing coverage. Our kicking game is going to give us an advantage with field position, and penalties are something that can hurt us there, that's a very important area to emphasize as well."
What Qualifies You To Change The Culture? "I've been there before. I've done it before. I believe in the young men that we have in certain positions. They need guidance and leadership and we're gonna get it done."
How Did You Get Known As Being An Offensive Guru? "Actually, I started out on the defensive side of the ball as a linebackers coach. I coached outside linebackers for Bill McCartney at Colorado. I told him I'd come on the condition that if there's a position open, you move me to offense. He was a man of his word and the rest, as they say, is history. I studied it, worked at it, utilized all the resources around me. I'm not trying to boast or brag because that's not me, but I did have opportunity to work with a lot of great players."
On Play Calling And His Role In Offensive Teaching: "I'm gonna be involved deeply in that area, and certainly with the quarterbacks as well."
What Did You Learn As An Offensive Coordinator With Baltimore? "It wasn't the first time I coordinated an offense. That's been misreported. I did in college as a head coach. I think what it does is teach you from a different vantage point about what's important, like how to move the ball, control the line, and not turn the ball over. Also, it shows how you have to have change ups, as well."
Do You Feel Any Added Pressure To Win Immediately In Detroit? "I've been coaching for 37 years, I haven't had a day that I've sat down and felt I haven't had to worry about something. In this business, you've got to worry about making a first down. From day one, I've understood that winning and winning a championship is the first goal. There's no compromise in that. It's important we have a real good plan. It's a challenging job, but it's the job we chose. We know there's some risk in it, but certainly, there's a bigger reward."
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