Detroit Lions fans. We are odd creatures. We are stubborn, impatient and set in our ways. You can hear it and see it everywhere you look.
If you turn on the radio right now, your Uncle Jack is on there talking about the heartbreak that happened in 1979 or how Wayne Fontes was the greatest coach we ever had.
If you look on social media, you’re destined to encounter the fan that’s given up all hope, but can’t walk away. You know the guy. He’s the guy that chants SOL if the Lions lose the coin toss.
But one thing that brings these two together—besides the hatred of Matthew Stafford—is the fact that they want Jim Caldwell fired as soon as possible.
Is this a reaction that comes built in with Lions fans? Where does it all come from? You always hear of Caldwell’s incompetence or poor time management. You always hear about him ruining the team in one way or another.
The results never seem to show that though. It makes one wonder how we could have come to these conclusions? How do the Lions, a team that for once in its existence is actually an up-and-coming team, have so many fans calling for the termination of their coach? I have two theories.
The first one is my personal favorite. I call it the “one piece away” theory. This theory essentially says that Lions fans have long believed they were just the right piece away from winning a championship.
The right quarterback, the right coach, the right general manager and the right owners. All the Lions have ever needed to fix all of their problems is one of those things. It’s like being on a rainbow that never ends. There is no pot of gold. You have to go up in the mountains and mine it.
The point is that there is not an easy fix here. The Lions have been run like a lemonade stand that only sells pickle juice for the majority of its existence. Work needs to be done. You can’t gain 100 pounds and then think you’ll lose it after one day of working out at the gym. It takes time.
The other theory is admittedly not my own, but I like it a lot.
@POD_Payton I honestly don't think it's that. It's more like, success has been elusive for so long we don't know what it looks like.— The Lions Wire (@thelionswire) May 4, 2017
Could this all be just the misunderstanding of what success looks like? Hear me out here. I think what our pals over at Lions Wire are trying to say is that Lions fans are so used to being unsuccessful, that when it begins to turn around, they’re just not noticing it, because, again, we don’t know what it looks like.
The other part of that is the disbelief. How many times have you believed that things were moving in the right direction only to have your heart broken again?
That’s our fault. For too long we, as a fan base, looked at an unfinished and deeply flawed product and thought it was ready. We spent a lot of time blaming the coach or the Ford’s, but we never blamed ourselves for believing in the train wreck this team was for a long time.
Remember when all you wanted for Christmas was a Green Ranger? You built up the moment in your mind and truly believed you were going to get it. Can you only blame your parents when you didn’t get it? No, you brat. It’s partially your fault for thinking the store wouldn't run out.
Why Caldwell stays
So why is James’ seat not hot? Because, like it or not, he’s been successful. In a world where teams change their coaches like underwear, the Lions actually have one of the more successful coaches.
Hold on there, Lions fans. I’m sure at this point you’re freaking out about the last statement. “What success?” is what I’m sure you’re saying. What I mean by this is that the Lions are one of the teams that haven’t had to worry about changing their coach due to losing.
Since Caldwell took the job, 16 NFL franchises have switched their head coach. Only three of those teams can say they’ve had a winning record in that time. Here, check it out.
Teams with multiple coaches since 2014
|Team||Coaches since 2014||Record|
|Team||Coaches since 2014||Record|
|Dolphins||Joe Philbin, Dan Campbell, Adam Gase||24-24|
|Bills||Doug Marrone, Rex Ryan||24-24|
|Jets||Rex Ryan, Todd Bowles||19-27|
|Raiders||Dennis Allen, Tony Sparano, Jack Del Rio||22-26|
|Broncos||John Fox, Gary Kubiak, Vance Joseph||33-15|
|Chargers||Mike McCoy, Anthony Lynn||18-30|
|Browns||Mike Pettine, Hue Jackson||11-37|
|Titans||Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Mularkey||13-39|
|Texans||Gary Kubiak, Bill O'Brien||27-21|
|Jags||Gus Bradley, Doug Marrone||11-37|
|Giants||Tom Coughlin, Ben McAdoo||23-25|
|Eagles||Chip Kelly, Doug Pederson||24-24|
|Rams||Jeff Fisher, Sean McVay||17-31|
|49ers||Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula, Chip Kelly, Kyle Shanahan||15-33|
|Bears||Marc Trestman, John Fox||14-34|
|Falcons||Mike Smith, Dan Quinn||25-23|
That’s not all though. As my colleague here at Pride Of Detroit Chris Lemieux points out in his article about mediocrity and the Lions, Jim Caldwell currently has the 11th best winning percentage of all NFL coaches over the last three years. There’s something to be said for that.
The number one reason, though, is continuity. The roster trusts this coach and has a great rapport with him. Because of that, they’re willing to work hard for him and buy into the system.
Just look at what some players told former Lion Nate Burleson back in 2014:
"I talked to some guys while I was in Detroit (last week). A vet of nine years, said, 'this is the first time I've ever felt like a professional football player,' talking about Jim Caldwell," Burleson said. "Another guy said, 'he is one coach that understands the temperament of this team, which means when we show up on Sunday we're going to give everything we've got because he's taking care of us during the week.'“
If you want the Lions to buy into the ‘do your job unselfishly for the greater good of the team’ theory, Caldwell is the man to feed that through.
Whether you believe it or not, the Lions are improving all over and are actually a team that’s beginning to run like a successful organization. Now is the time to stick to your guns. That is why Caldwell is safe and will remain safe.