During media day of any Super Bowl, a fair amount of questions asked range from the mundane to the profane. The questions are asked at rapid fire, and most are designed to produce quick, thoughtless statements.
Thankfully, however, for one brief moment, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press had the foresight to cut through some of the nonsense and ask Peyton Manning some pertinent questions about his close relationship with Detroit Lions' new head coach Jim Caldwell.
When asked about Caldwell recently getting the Detroit job, Manning said he was happy, and proud to talk to the Lions about Caldwell's impact on him when the team was making their decision regarding who to hire. Then, as it related to his own development with Caldwell as his quarterbacks coach, Manning provided this interesting nugget:
"Jim Caldwell has meant a great deal to me in my career," Manning said. "I felt like once he got to Indianapolis and became my quarterbacks coach that my game really improved. I felt it took a step up and I thought Jim had a great deal to do with that."
Manning went on to say that Caldwell allowed him to develop a routine, from the meeting rooms to the practice field with drills. "I just felt that from 2003 really to 2008 when he was quarterbacks coach, I was playing at a high level," he said. Denver tight end Jacob Tamme took things further. "You knew what you were going to get every day," Tamme said, regarding Caldwell's approach. "He was going to be consistent in the way he handled players and made decisions, and he believes in a philosophy and that's what the team's going to be about."
Routines. Improvement. Consistency. Philosophy. If anyone's still inclined to characterize the Lions' coaching search as a failure, listen to the buzz words of Manning, the game's best quarterback and the Super Bowl's number one storyline, and Tamme, a role-playing tight end regarding their time with the Colts. Caldwell brings accountability and respect, from the top of a roster to the bottom.
The fact that Manning himself gives the hire his stamp of approval and has personally vouched for Caldwell multiple times speaks volumes. Detroit has pushed all their chips in with Matthew Stafford, so who better to lead him in a turnaround than Caldwell, a man who Manning took time to single out at the Super Bowl. Caldwell helped Manning's career evolve, and is arguably the biggest reason he's the quarterback he is today.
Stafford himself currently isn't any more broken than Manning was in 2002, rather, like Manning then, the Lions' signal caller desperately needs a sense of direction and someone to show him the proper way. If Manning is the best and believes Caldwell was the biggest reason he developed quickly, that means Stafford is in the best possible hands available.
For those concerned about Caldwell seeming like a retread who's failed before, Broncos' coach John Fox, a man with a resume similar to Caldwell's, had an interesting thought during a Wednesday morning press conference.
"The more experience you get in anything the better you become," Fox said.
Considering more glowing words from Manning and others, it's becoming tougher to bet against Caldwell proving that notion true in Detroit.
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