After missing out on making Ken Whisenhunt their head coach, the Detroit Lions moved quickly to lock up Jim Caldwell as the man to take over the franchise.
Caldwell has spent the past season and a half as the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, helping the team to a victory in Super Bowl XLVII. During that championship run, Caldwell re-emphasized the running game with Ray Rice, although it was Joe Flacco’s on-point passing that was the biggest story of Baltimore’s post-season success. This year, the Ravens’ offensive line woes led to major struggles in the rushing game — as any Ray Rice fantasy owner can attest. As such, a larger burden was placed on Flacco and the results were mixed.
Of course, this won’t be Caldwell’s first go-round as a head coach. He led the Indianapolis Colts from 2009-2011 after the departure of Tony Dungy. In his first season at the helm, Caldwell led Indy to a 14-2 record and an ultimate loss in the Super Bowl. The next season, the Colts finished 10-6 with a first-round playoff loss to the Jets. Things weren’t quite so rosy in 2011 when Peyton Manning missed the entire season with neck surgery and Indianapolis finished 2-14.
Now Caldwell heads to Detroit where he will once again find himself in charge of a pass-first offense. It would seem to bode well for Matthew Stafford to have Caldwell now on his side. The biggest question will be whether the coach can curb the quarterback’s sometimes-reckless ways in the pocket. In his final six games in 2013, Stafford threw 11 interceptions compared to just eight touchdowns. That was bad news for fantasy owners and even worse news for the Lions, who lost seven of their final eight games to miss the playoffs.
As goes Stafford, so goes the Lions offense. That means the success of the quarterback will have a direct impact on the fantasy fortunes of Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, Joique Bell (if he returns to Detroit) and others. For now, Stafford remains a QB1 in most leagues, but it will be interesting to see what influence Caldwell has on him.
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