Lions hire Jim Caldwell as new head coach

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions have hired Jim Caldwell as head coach, ending a two-week search during which they interviewed only four candidates.

The 58-year-old Caldwell fit a lot of the criteria Detroit had during its search. The Lions wanted someone with head-coaching experience and experience on offense, apparently preferably with quarterbacks.

Caldwell became the second minority candidate to land a head-coaching job this month, joining new Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith.

Caldwell was the first person to interview for the Detroit job, followed by former Texans coach Gary Kubiak, former Titans coach Mike Munchak and Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

Detroit was spurned by Whisenhunt, thought to be the top choice, on Monday when he chose the Titans job.

Caldwell has been a head coach at two prior stops — from 2009 to 2011 with the Colts and from 1993 to 2000 with Wake Forest. He replaces Jim Schwartz, who was fired following Detroit’s late-season collapse that resulted in a 7-9 finish.

Caldwell, who turns 59 on Thursday, posted a 26-22 record in three seasons after replacing Tony Dungy in Indianapolis. The Colts reached the Super Bowl in Caldwell’s first season at the helm and went to the playoffs the following season. In fact, Caldwell has more career playoff wins (two) than the Lions organization over the last 55 years combined. Since winning the NFL title in 1957, the Lions are 1-10 in the postseason.

After being fired by Wake Forest, Caldwell became a quarterbacks coach in the NFL, first for Tampa Bay, where he worked with Brad Johnson in 2001 and then with Indianapolis, where he was Peyton Manning‘s position coach from 2002 until 2008.

Fired by Indianapolis in 2011, Caldwell went to Baltimore first as the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach and then as offensive coordinator for their Super Bowl run after replacing Cam Cameron in December of last season.

Under Caldwell this season, the Ravens were 29th in total offense (307.4 yards a game) and 25th in scoring (20 points a game). Quarterback Joe Flacco, who Caldwell was brought in to mentor, threw more interceptions (22) than touchdown passes (19) this season.

Caldwell, a defensive back at Iowa from 1973 to 1976, has spent the entirety of his coaching career on offense, including at Penn State as quarterbacks coach from 1986 to 1992.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter contributed to this report.

  • Previously covered University of Michigan for and
  • Also covered Notre Dame for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

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