Next up for the 2016 Detroit Lions POD Awards is the category for Detroit Lions Coach of the Year.
Head Coach Jim Caldwell
After the Lions got off to another slow start to the season, many players credited Jim Caldwell’s poise as the reason the team was able to keep a level head and win eight of nine games in the middle of the schedule.
Caldwell may have caused a lot of ire with his relationship with the media and his withdrawn personality, but it has created an environment where players don’t seem to clash with one another, nor do they create any distracting drama.
In three years, Caldwell now has a 27-21 record in Detroit with two playoff appearances (0-2 in postseason).
Special teams coordinator Joe Marciano
The Detroit Lions had one of the best special teams units in the league—sixth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. A focus on special teams personnel has a lot to do with the turnaround, but Marciano deserves a ton of credit, too. When Marciano came into town in 2015, the Lions were coming off a season in which they ranked 31st in special teams DVOA. Since then the Lions have ranked in the top half of the league in two consecutive seasons.
Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter
While his magic wore off toward the end of the year, Cooter clearly developed quite a relationship with Matthew Stafford, leading to an MVP-level performance from the Lions quarterback through the first 12 games of the season. For his first full year as the Lions offensive coordinator, he had a fairly successful season.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin
Despite a multitude of injuries to the team’s best defensive players, Austin managed to keep the Lions defense from drowning. They may have ranked horribly according to most statistical measures—dead last in DVOA by a considerable margin—but Austin developed a game plan that accomplished what was most important: limiting the opponents’ points. The Lions held eight straight opponents to 20 points or under during a 6-2 stretch in the middle of the season.
Assistant head coach/Offensive line coach Ron Prince
Prince had the unenviable task of dealing with three incoming rookie offensive linemen, a center who had utterly failed in his two years as a starter and a right tackle that was adjusting to a position change. He managed to take all of that and put together an offensive line that was the best this team has seen in years. Taylor Decker has already developed into an above-average left tackle, while Travis Swanson made huge strides as the team’s center.