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Quotes from Jim Caldwell's introductory press conference

A recap of Wednesday's Detroit Lions press conference at Ford Field.

Duane Burleson

Below is a look at what was said during Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell's introductory press conference on Wednesday. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)


Opening statement: "Thank you all for coming out today, especially our fans and partners who joined us a little earlier tonight and are here for the press conference. I also want to thank, especially, the Ford family, Mr. and Mrs. Ford, and I know Mr. Ford can't be here today, he's a little under the weather, but boss I know you're watching on TV at home. To Bill Ford of course, to Muff Morse, who also couldn't be here today, Sheila Hamp, Elizabeth Kontulis, their leadership to this process and their support has been truly valuable, thank you for being here today.

"When we started the conversation about what to do this upcoming season, the Ford family was very clear. They said, 'How do we win the NFC North in 2014? And how do we bring a consistently-winning football team to the city of Detroit and to Lions fans?' That was what governed our actions from that point forward. When I sat with you guys a couple of weeks ago, we talked about having a profile for the next head coach of the Detroit Lions and we talked about a process that already started when we met with the media two weeks ago. That was a very thorough process and we met with several candidates. We had discussions with many others. Some of those are publicly known, some aren't, but with Martin (Mayhew) and myself and others involved in the process, there was a tremendous amount of work done and we had the good fortune of meeting a lot of very qualified head coaches; but two stood out to us as meeting the profile that we had set forth. In case you didn't think we had one, it's here, we had a profile laid out, as I told you two weeks ago. Two men fit that profile and were real finalists for us. One of those, Ken Whisenhunt, is somebody that we wanted to have additional conversations with and had offered to bring him to Detroit to have additional conversations and a chance to meet the Ford family. He had a great opportunity in Tennessee and they got a fine man and fine football coach. The other finalist is sitting to my left and I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to introduce to you and Lions' fans all over the place, the next head coach of the Detroit Lions, because he fits our profile to a tee. When I talk about things like leadership, experience, a sound football philosophy, intelligence, communication skills, integrity, accountability, discipline - those are the kinds of things that time in and time out we heard when people were describing Jim Caldwell. Wherever he's been, he's left a positive mark and every person who has come in contact with Jim Caldwell speaks extremely highly of not only his character, but his football intelligence and his ability to lead the football team. There is no doubt that anyone who thinks we settled for Jim Caldwell doesn't know Jim Caldwell. I couldn't be more happy to have the opportunity to introduce him to the city of Detroit and to all of you as the next head football coach of the Detroit Lions.

"But before we do that officially, I want to turn it over to our General Manager and Executive Vice President, Martin Mayhew."


Opening statement: "Thanks for being here, thanks everybody, thanks to the Ford family, much appreciate your support. Let me just start by saying I'm excited and proud to have Jim Caldwell as my head coach. When we started this process, I didn't know much about Jim. You see him on the sideline, you see coaches on the sidelines, you have your game face on, they have their game face on, you don't have much of an opportunity to get to know each other, but you see a press conference here, you see a clip there, you exchange pleasantries after League meetings and things, but I didn't really know Jim.

"Like Tom (Lewand) said, we did have a profile, we did have some characteristics that we were looking for in our new head coach. Tom mentioned some of them, a leader of men, a leader of men. I talked about how important that was in our last press conference and Jim Caldwell is certainly that. He has the expertise, he has the experience. We talked about guys who had been head coaches previously and guys who had extensive experience as coordinators, we thought that was extremely important when you talk about a guy coming to your organization and bringing confidence and bringing credibility, I thought that was really, really important and Jim certainly has that.

"He has experience with quarterbacks and that was important to us. Having a guy with experience, or a guy had a staff that would have a person on his staff that had experience working with quarterbacks, that was really important. You fit all of those things with the profile and throughout that he becomes the candidate for this job. We thought maybe he had exactly what we were looking for, but we weren't sure, we weren't sure. As we went through the process we found out that he does have exactly what we need, what this football team needs, a critical part of that was the research that we did, reaching out around the League to people we knew, making contact with people who had worked with Jim previously. There are some guys in this League that I really respect, some guys that I've known for a long time that I have a tremendous amount of respect for, some of the best in the business, starting with Ozzie Newsome, who has won two Super Bowls. He is one of the premiere GM's in the history of the National Football League, I believe. He gave Jim glowing recommendations. In addition to that, Bill Polian, six Super Bowl appearances, another guy I have a tremendous amount of respect for. He also gave glowing recommendations of Jim. Tony Dungy, really one of the finest men I've ever met, gave glowing recommendations. Everyone we talked to, consistently, across the board, spoke so highly of Jim and the integrity of his character, of his football acumen, we just had a great feeling from talking to people about who Jim was.

"We had the profile, he had that, and then we did our research and we got great reports from him, then came the interview. Sit down and talk to Jim, he was very knowledgeable, knew all about quarterbacks, he can scheme, he knows fundamentals, he was everything that we thought that he would be in the interview and more. The other thing that it came down to is fit. It's got to be a guy you feel you can work with. Everybody I talked to from Bill Polian, Tom Telesco, Ozzie Newsome, Tom (Lewand) talked to John Harbaugh, Cam Cameron, so many people, too numerous to name. Everyone talked about what a great guy Jim Caldwell was to work with. When we got into the interview, I had the same feeling. I felt like this is a guy that we can accomplish great things with. I had a great comfort level with him and I felt like he was a guy I could work with and we could do great things for the Detroit Lions together. For that reason, we selected Jim Caldwell to be our head coach."


Opening statement: "Good afternoon. First, let me begin by saying it's great to be a Detroit Lion. The last time I was in this stadium I got a real sense of what it was like when you talk about defending the den. We brought our team in from Baltimore and the noise level here was absolutely unbelievable. Numerous situations that happened to us on the floor caused us to sort of have to pause for a minute because of the fact that there was so much, just in terms of passion and knowledgeable fans that knew when to make noise and etc. So, I'm happy to be on this side of it at this point in time.

"We're extremely excited about this opportunity. I want to thank the Ford family for giving me an opportunity to represent this franchise. It has a great legacy of outstanding leadership throughout the entire National Football League. The love, the dedication, the passion, commitment to the team reveals itself clearly as you examine what has happened and taken place here through the years through their ownership. Thanks to Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand for making this possible. The interviewing process was painstakingly difficult, but necessary to find the right person for this job. I'm looking forward to working in close contact with these two men because they're extremely knowledgeable in what they do. They do a tremendous job just in terms of vetting out every single detail of a football organization and also acquisition of players. They do a great job because they have great passion for it as well. Thanks to my attorney who has been with me for 21 years, Dennis Coleman from Ropes and Gray. He negotiated my first contract at Wake Forest some years ago. And thanks to all the people who worked behind the scenes making this possible because they were obviously supporting my candidacy. Martin mentioned some to Tony Dungy, Bill Polian, Peyton (Manning) Ozzie Newsome, Steve Bisciotti, John Harbaugh, Jeff Saturday. It just so happened that a number of these guys are now in the media, which we certainly never thought would have happened. But nevertheless, they did so and gave some unsolicited calls of support to make this thing possible. But there were a lot of great players that I had an opportunity to associate with as well that certainly put me in this position.

"I'm excited about working with the players that are here on this team at this time. I had an opportunity to text a number of them after I was named the head coach and I can feel and sense genuine excitement. I talked to obviously Matt Stafford. CJ (Calvin Johnson) and I were back and forth with texts. I had a chance to talk to Ndamukong Suh and then obviously Stephen Tulloch as well. Every single one of them, to a man, are excited about the opportunity they have presented before them and I think, without question, they're willing to do whatever it takes to win. They believe and I believe the time is now. Not two years or three years from now down the road somewhere. We're right here, right now. As I had an opportunity to look at this situation from afar when the job first opened up, I took a look at what I considered to be not only the best job in the League I thought, but then also the best fit for me. And I believe, without question, this is the best fit for me. I don't know about you, but I am a big believer in self-fulfilling prophecy. There's an old Chinese proverb that says, ‘Be careful how you think. Your life is shaped by your thoughts.' And Biblically, in Ephesians, it says, ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.' There's a great nucleus here in all three phases and I believe we're on the threshold of some great things. I think the organization is ready, the city of Detroit is ready, our fan base is ready and I think our players are ready as well.

"Perhaps some of you might ask the question, "Who is Jim Caldwell?" I'm from the Midwest, from the heartland, a small town in southern Wisconsin, Beloit, Wisconsin and it's right on the state line. I know one time my dad referred to Beloit as a poke-and-plumb town. He said, ‘If you're driving in your car and by the time you poke your head out the window to see where you are, you'll plumb out of town.' So, it's a very small, little town. But I am also a husband. My wife, Cheryl, of 37 years has certainly been with me for quite some time. We grew up together in Beloit, so we've actually dated since we were 15 years of age. You can do the math on that one. But nevertheless, we are the product of a very tough and gritty, hard-nosed, blue-collar community. That's who we are. My father worked in the automotive industry for 35 years. The UAW took care of my family. My mother was a nurse's aide and climbed her way up to an RN and then she obviously had an opportunity to work in an area that she loved in geriatric care. She was a supervisor of a nursing home toward the end of her career. I am also a brother. I have an older sister and I have a younger brother. My younger brother is in his 34th year in the automotive industry and they both live right down the road in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I am a father. Cheryl and I have four children - Jimmy, Jermaine, Jared and Natalie. They are 32, 34, 30 and 28, so we're at the other end of the spectrum of a lot of families. But nevertheless, they're fine people and we're certainly proud of them. We also have a daughter-in-law and in the spice of life, we have two grandchildren - two grandsons that are six and four, Joshua and Trey. Certainly, they do indeed enhance your life.

"Do you believe in providence? I certainly do and I think there is a reason why I'm here. I think, without question, that is to win a championship. I have an unusual coaching pedigree in terms of the background. I had an opportunity to work for some men that certainly have been great leaders in this country. They've all been winners and I've taken a little bit from all of them to certainly, sort of, carve my path to where I am today. Ray Dempsey at Southern Illinois University, Dennis Green at Northwestern University, Bill McCartney at the University of Colorado, Howard Schnellenberger at the University of Louisville, Joe Paterno at Penn State University, Tony Dungy in Tampa and also Indianapolis and John Harbaugh in Baltimore. A lot of championship leadership from that group and I benefited greatly from that group. So, I stand before you today having drawn from all those experiences to face a great challenge that I am looking forward to.

"Let's just talk about a couple things, image and identity. Either you create it, or somebody's going to create it for you. So, let me tell you what we're going to look like. We're going to be smart. We're going to be a football team that takes the field that's not going to shoot itself in the foot. We're going to be a team that is disciplined, that's focused, that understands situational football. It's going to be drilled and drilled and drilled and not just given lip service, but what you should see on the field is obviously a product of our coaching, our instruction and our demands. We're going to have a fast football team. There's nothing like teams with speed. The great thing about this organization is the fact that Martin and Tom have done a tremendous job, and the scouting department and personnel, of putting together an unbelievable group. You know, when we were prepared for team, we're (Baltimore) talking about speed. Offensively, we had to get ready for a front four that had quickness, speed, power. We had to change up some of the things that we were doing from a blocking scheme because we didn't want to leave certain guys in there on single-block alone. We also had problems on the edge with Ziggy (Ansah) and obviously with (Willie) Young as well. Guys could get up the field and certainly give you some problems. (DeAndre) Levy was doing a great job at the linebacker position. We had to be a little bit careful about him and obviously the safeties were certainly getting themselves in position to make some plays as well. On the other side of the ball, I think we all know there are a lot of talented guys. A quarterback that obviously I think is just on the cusp of becoming an absolute outstanding player. And obviously we know CJ (Calvin Johnson) can play. Reggie Bush is a talented guy. We just have a number of guys that we think are going to be able to make plays for us and a tough offensive line that is certainly gritty as well.

"So, we're going to be smart. Speed's going to be certainly a definite factor that we have to be fast and we're also going to be physical. Now, physical doesn't necessarily mean that we're certainly out of bounds in terms of what we're doing from a legal standpoint. We're going to do things the right way, but we're going to be a physical, hard-nosed, rough football team. We're going to flat get after you from the word ‘go' every single snap of the ball on offense, defense and in the kicking game.

"But a couple things also, more than a couple. We want a competent group. We want a group that has some expertise. Right up the road at the University of Michigan there was a guy that coached there named Fielding Yost and he made this statement. He said, ‘To me, no coach in America has asked a player to make a sacrifice. He asks that he do just the opposite - To live clean, to come clean, to think clean.' To stop doing all the things that hurt you mentally, physically and morally and start doing the things that make you, ‘keener, finer and more competent.' Isn't that what we want to do, right? Become keener, finer and more competent in what we do and I think you're going to see a difference on the field. We also want a team that's humble. Certainly hungry, but also humble. I think humility is the glue that brings a team together, that you play unselfishly, that you do the things you're required to do. You play your role. Now, humility, oftentimes people think of that as weakness because they think that it is at odds with having an ego. Well, all of us have an ego. In this business, you better have an ego. But the thing about it, we don't have an ego problem, you know? That's the key, right? There is a difference there. We also want to make certain that we are authentic as well. We want to let the guys express themselves, be who they are. I think that's why they're here. They're experts at what they do. Each of them, I think, has a special uniqueness about them in terms of their physical abilities. But I think also you'll find that some of them have unique abilities as well in terms of leadership and things of that nature and we have to be able to make certain that we create an environment where we can encourage leadership, where they have ownership of what's happening out here on the field as well.

"We want to make certain we have motivated men and, without question, I think that when you look at the way in which Martin and also Tom go out and acquire talent in looking for guys that can make a difference on our team, you look for guys that are intrinsically-motivated, naturally-motivated. From the word ‘go' they don't have to be given a whole lot of instruction in terms of what to do in terms of preparation for the season, during the offseason and things of that nature. Highly-motivated individuals are what we're looking for. They also have to have great passion, right? There is another passage in the Bible that says, ‘We should lack no zeal in our work.' No zeal in our work, right? We ought to be enthusiastic about what we do. We ought to be passionate about what we do and it ought to certainly show in every facet of the game.

"And then lastly, we have to make certain that we have a service and a commitment to service to our community and to our fan base. I think that's a huge part of it. One of the great descriptions I've ever heard about a person is velvet and steel, that an individual that should be, particularly guys that play this game, should be like a piece of steel wrapped in velvet. So, on the field you'll find a hard-nosed, tough, fast, physical individual. But then out in our community, you'll see them as caring, as kind, as cordial as you'll ever see a human being. That's the combination we're looking for, civility and toughness."

On QB Matthew Stafford: "I think, No. 1, he's a very, very talented guy. We had an opportunity to meet a couple times - or I should say once - when I came on my first interview - we sat down and just talked a little bit. I think there was some reports out there that we sat down and watched film, but that was not the case. We just kind of talked about some of the things that I had seen on film and things of that nature throughout the years. We just kind of talked back and forth. We had common ground in a number of cases. I had recruited his area when I was coaching in college and certainly knew the background of where he was from in Highland Park (Texas) and things of that nature, but we also talked about what it was going to take to improve. We just hit on a few things. But I since have talked to him and spoke with him, obviously, today and I think the thing that you find out about him is the fact that he is willing to do whatever it takes to get ready to win. That's the key. I mean, he's a guy that has talent, he has ability, he has great leadership qualities and I think, without question, you're going see him develop and then also, certainly, take off in every facet."

On the Lions' discipline: "Well, there are a couple things. Oftentimes, you have to make certain first of all, that you have all the information. Not every situation is exactly the same. The key to it is communication. I call it preventive medicine. If you do a good job setting your standards and setting your parameters and making certain that it's clear - that there is no, obviously, gray area - that you're going to find that you're going to have very few infractions and, when you do, then obviously there are consequences to it. What those consequences are, they vary, just depending upon the offense."

On his calm demeanor on the sideline: "There are a couple things. I think oftentimes that people see me in a situation where I'm on the sidelines during game day and when the camera just happens to catch you, that it may be in a situation where we may not be talking at that particular point in time or whatever it might be. But I'm not a guy that's going to run up and down the sideline ranting and raving during game day because, if you've done your work during the course of the week in terms of preparation, making certain they're in the right spot, there's not a whole lot of yelling and screaming that you have to do. Then the other thing is - that I really do think ... you should never, I think it was a John Wooden statement - he said you should never mistake activity for achievement. I believe that. There are a lot of great coaches that have certainly done well in this League and won a lot of football games that didn't run up and down the sideline and throw their hat and scream and yell and kick the ground and things of that nature. I know without question that may have had something to do with a little bit of that perception."

On what he learned in Indianapolis: "Well, the unique thing is the fact that - No. 1 - for two years prior to taking over that spot, I had an opportunity to kind of ... I was a coach in waiting. So I had an opportunity to kind of do all the things I ordinarily would have done as the head coach. Tony was gracious to me in that regard. So I got a lot of experience there. Also, I've been a head coach, obviously, in college for eight years prior to that. But what I learned is the fact that communication is extremely important. I also learned there are a number of different ways to do things and, primarily, not just necessarily at Indy, but also my experience at Baltimore as well. That was a great education for me because I had an opportunity to kind of see a different style. I'd been with Tony (Dungy), actually, for obviously, at Tampa the one year and then in Indy and we did things a certain way which won a lot of ballgames and then I had an opportunity to go to Baltimore - won a lot of ballgames there with John, he's been tremendous. Then I also saw a little bit different way of doing some things.

"So, the great thing about it, the experience, I was able to kind of look at some things I thought would be great, some things that we had done before and say, ‘You know what, maybe we need a few more reps in this particular area, or this particular area maybe we would cut back a little bit more.' So it gave me a great platform of comparison and I think that's key.

"But, here's the big thing that I learned and we had it at a number of different places that I've been and you can develop it and that's mental toughness. Mental toughness really keeps you out of situations in which you make big mistakes at the end of ballgames when the game's on the line. That's huge. I think that can be developed. I think that can be developed because of the fact that when you practice, you expect the same type of determination.

"When the weather is bad, if we're practicing outside, you expect the same type of preparation and also commitment. When it's outside, it's cold and it's dreary that, you know what, that's a Lions' kind of weather, right? We've got to be able to flourish in that. Yeah, we have a great opportunity here within these confines because of the fact that we know what the temperature's going to be, we know there's not going to be a whole lot of wind variance in here, so we're blessed to have an opportunity to play in the dome. But we also have to be gritty enough to be able to go outside and certainly do battle against the rest of the teams that are certainly in the League as well."

On what improvements he thinks Stafford can make: "Well, first of all, I did look at a lot of film and I certainly don't think I'm an authority at that point right now. I've got to look at him further, I've got to dig down a little bit deeper, I've got to get a real good sense of things. But, for the most part, here's what we know, that we do have a set of parameters in which we use in terms of teaching and coaching quarterbacks that we know works and I'm anxious and excited about giving him an opportunity to kind of work within those parameters and I think you're going to see improvement from the onset. He's a willing guy, he's capable, he has an immense amount of talent and we've just got to bring that to the forefront.

"Here's the other thing that, oftentimes, people don't quite understand what coaching's all about. Really, in my estimation, coaching is about a couple different things. It's about empathy and expertise. It's that combination. You have to be able to take a real good look at an individual and see what he's good at, what he does extremely well and you've got to put him in position to do those things well. You don't want to put him in position of things he does not do well. And then make certain now - that still remains to be seen in how he sees things, he'll develop within that and then obviously you have to have some expertise in making certain that you can teach and develop what you want to get done and I think our staff's going to have that."

On if he has chosen his coaching staff: "It's an ongoing process right now. At this particular point in time, we're working and some things will start to take shape here shortly."

On the steps the Lions need to take in 2014: "I'll give it to you quickly in a nutshell. Obviously, the things that we want to make certain that we do, and we're talking about how we win football games, No. 1, we want to make certain we control the line of scrimmage, so I think you have to have a team offensively that can run the ball. You have to have a team, obviously, on the line of scrimmage, who can also pass protect. But the biggest thing is, in order to win, you've got to make certain that you don't have an immense amount of penalties and you don't turn the ball over. Turnovers are obviously the largest determinant as far as winning and losing ballgames and that's an area in which you have to be really good at making certain that we take care of the ball. We want to be, certainly, in the top three in the League in that particular area.

"So, we're more a one-back than we are a two-back with developing a system where we can use multiple personnel groupings. We are a team that will certainly utilize the audible, making certain that we want to have the chalk last. Oftentimes we'll align on a formation and certainly depending on what the defense does, we'll do something to get ourselves in the best possible position from our angles in terms of our blocking scheme, from our routes in terms of our levels, working high-low on flat defenders, inside-out on middle defenders, things of that nature.

"So, we're a team that does quite a bit at the line of scrimmage, but at a fast pace. From a defensive standpoint, the personnel that we have are certainly a talented group. That doesn't mean that we don't have work to do because we do have a lot to do in all those areas, but I do think, without question, we're going to have a team that lines up in a 4-3, that's going to be able to rush the passer, going to be able to stop the run. No. 1, certainly control the line of scrimmage from that aspect, but also a team that can put pressure on the passer when it is time for a team to drop back and throw it as well.

"We're going to mix it up just in terms of whether or not we blitz or play coverage, so we'll give them a variety of looks in terms of our coverage scheme as well. Our kicking game, obviously, is going to be one that certainly takes advantage of field position. That we're able to, certainly, flip the field position and that we tackle well in those areas. That's another area where penalties really hurt you in terms of the kicking game because of the fact that, sometimes when you think you've got a team in the hole then all of a sudden a penalty kind of lets them out. I think, without question, that's a very, very important area as well."

On why other coaches haven't had success with the Lions: "I can't tell you about them, but I can tell you why I think I have an opportunity to do so - that I know I have an opportunity to do so - because I've been there before, I've done it before, and I think not only that, I believe in the young men that we certainly have at the important positions on this team that they need some guidance, some leadership and direction and that we're going to get it done."

On if he has a desire to call plays: "Well, we're going to take a look and see exactly what we want to do in that particular area. Here's one thing you can guarantee, that I'm going to have, obviously, some input in that area. I'm going to be involved deeply in that area and, certainly, with the quarterbacks as well."

On his experience as an offensive coordinator in Baltimore: "Obviously, it was a great experience for me. It gave me a chance ... we took over at a time when it wasn't easy, but we were a 9-4 football team, we weren't a 4-9 team, so we had talent. Don't get me wrong. We had some guys that could get the job done, we just had to give them a little direction and certainly put some emphasis in a couple different areas here or there because there were a lot of guys that was a five-year process they had built to that point. So we can't stand here and take credit for all that. But nevertheless, what we did learn ... and it's not like this is the first time I've coordinated an offense. So, I think oftentimes that's misreported because I did it in college. I did it as a head coach in college, I was both the offensive coordinator and the head coach and I've been working around offensive football for quite some time. But, nevertheless, I also had a lot of great people working with me on that staff that did a tremendous job. But I think what it does teach you, it does teach you from a different vantage point controlling the game, what's important, don't turn the ball over, move the ball, be able to run it, control the line of scrimmage, all those things that are extremely important. But also, that you have to have some changeups once in a while as well."

On if he was disappointed he did not get another year in Indianapolis: "You know what? I spend very little time worrying about things that I have absolutely no control over - very little time. I had no control over that. What my job is, to do my job to the best of my ability and, you know what, I think in the long run it's going to balance out at some point. My high school coach, Bernie Barkin, used to always say, ‘Cream will rise to the top,' and I believe that. If you're good at what you're do, at some point in time, somebody's going to come looking for you and you're going to get an opportunity somewhere down the line. Now, there's a lot of great coaches in this League that have never gotten the opportunity and certainly hoping that a few more pop up for some individuals that were maybe in the same situation that I was in."

On if the Lions are a playoff team right now and whether he is already on the hot seat: "I've been coaching for 37 years. I can't think of a day when I sat down and felt real relaxed and said, ‘You know what? I don't have to worry about a whole lot today. You can go out here and play and don't have to worry about making a first down. It's a pretty good gig.' From day one, I understood and understood thoroughly that winning and winning a championship is the ultimate goal. That is our goal. That is what we set out for every single year and there is, without question, no compromising that. And I think that it's something that we all talk about, but that also I think it's important that we have a real good plan in order of how we're going to do this thing and then we work at it. It's a challenging job, it's the job that we chose. I've raised a family doing what I do and we know there's some risk in it, but there's a lot more reward."

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