On Monday, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians retired from coaching at the ripe age of 65. Dealing with a myriad of health issues and missing his family too much, Arians decided to call it a career in an emotional press conference.
Jim Caldwell, three years his junior, didn’t receiver as graceful of an exit. He was fired by the Detroit Lions on the same day and didn’t get the opportunity to address the media following the decision. His farewell was limited to a humble, 137-word statement.
So is that how the Jim Caldwell era in the NFL ends, like so many former Lions head coaches?
If it’s up to Caldwell himself, the answer is no. According to the Detroit Free Press, Caldwell told Fritz Pollard Alliance chairman John Wooten that he still wants to coach in the NFL and would do it in 2018 if given the opportunity.
“It’s a wide-open thing,” Wooten said (via the Free Press). “There’s quite a few openings right now and you never know who’s going to look at what and see how it goes. But he still has interest.”
It seems unlikely that Caldwell would get an immediate shot at a head coaching gig. We’re four days into the search for the six teams with a vacancy (Raiders, Lions, Giants, Colts, Bears Cardinals), and his name has not generated any type of buzz whatsoever.
But he may not be as unattractive of a candidate as many might think. If you look around the NFL, many see four years in Detroit with a 36-28 record as a pretty solid success. A franchise like the Bears, who has gone five consecutive seasons without a winning record, may view that as a significant step up.
Mind you, Caldwell’s next job in the NFL is very unlikely to be as a head coach. But Caldwell can certainly lay claim to part of Matthew Stafford’s development. Even before the Lions made the change from Joe Lombardi to Jim Bob Cooter, we saw a drastic change in Stafford’s play. He was no longer the reckless gunslinger; he was instead much more calculated and careful with the football.
All five other teams looking for a new coaching staff will likely have a young quarterback at the helm in 2018 or shortly after that. Caldwell could certainly be a good resource as a quarterbacks coach or even an offensive coordinator.
It remains to be seen if other teams view him that way, but with the coaching search still in its very early stages, I wouldn’t count out anything at this point.