Lions embrace Jim Caldwell's calm, collected approach to coaching
Jul 14, 2014 at 11:13a ET
When Jim Schwartz first took over as coach in Detroit, his emotional side was applauded for bringing an attitude to a long-time losing franchise.
But when his team struggled the last two seasons, that style became heavily criticized because the players lacked discipline, both on and off the field.
Not surprisingly, after Schwartz got fired six months ago, the Lions found a replacement whose personality is much different; in some ways, the opposite.
Jim Caldwell is known for being calm, cool and collected, which his players have embraced.
"If you have a problem with him, you probably have a problem within yourself," veteran cornerback Rashean Mathis said. "He's that type of guy. Some people if you don't like (them), it's you, not them.
"His attitude, his demeanor really doesn't change. He's trustworthy. It's like being in a marriage. When you know you can trust your partner, you're not scared to be yourself. That's what he's allowing us to be, ourselves.
"There is a structure that he wants us to uphold. When you have a guy like that, it's easy to uphold it because you don't want to disappoint him. You play harder for guys like that."
While the perception is that he's this easy-going guy, especially for a football coach, Caldwell warns people not to be fooled.
There can be a madness behind the method at times, too.
"I'm not always even-keel," Caldwell insisted. "You'll see it at some point in time. I have the same ups and downs as every other human being. I'm passionate about what I do."
Caldwell explained his approach to coaching:
"I do instruction in the classroom, I do instruction when we have our team meetings and I tell them what I want," he said. "Then we go out and see if we can get it done.
"We'll grade it, we'll look at it and if I didn't get exactly what I want, I'll point that out on film. I'll show them what I want, we'll come back out and we'll go at it again.
"That's kind of how we work and how we operate. There's no need for a whole lot of cussing, screaming, yelling and all that kind of stuff. It's a mini-quiz out here (on the practice field). I never had any of my professors yelling in my ear when I was sitting at the desk filling out those multiple-choice questions."
Caldwell saves any yelling for the right moment, only when it's really needed. He believes that's the most effective way to get to his players.
“If you have a problem with him, you probably have a problem within yourself.”
"Here's the thing, don't mistake activity for achievement," Caldwell said. "That's a big mistake that everybody always makes.
"They look at guys like (former Dallas Cowboys coach) Tom Landry and they think nothing's getting done. All he did was win more games probably than anybody in his era, right?
"There are a number of guys that are like that. The fact of the matter is, it doesn't matter if you're yelling or screaming because they (the players) tune you out after a certain point in time. I played for guys when I was playing (who) were screaming and yelling. Pretty soon that sounded like his normal, audible tone and you end up ignoring it.
"So, when I have to go up an octave or two, I guarantee you it will have a little bit different response than most people in that regard, and I do from time to time."
In the end, it will all come down to winning, just like it did with Schwartz.
If Caldwell doesn't get the Lions to the playoffs, you know what will be said -- he's just not fiery enough.