The Lions Should Part With Caldwell, Mayhew and Lewand


Firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi was a good start.  Now it’s time for Detroit Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford to part ways with head coach Jim Caldwell, general manager Martin Mayhew, and team president Tom Lewand.

If Sunday’s blowout loss to the mediocre Chiefs proved anything, it’s that the Detroit Lions problems are not limited to Joe Lombardi’s shortcomings as a coordinator.  On Sunday, the Lions managed to make the 3-5 Chiefs look like world beaters.

The Chiefs (figuratively and literally) ran around, through, and over the Lions.  The Lions offense was offensive, their defense was deficient, and their special teams weren’t very special.  Still, worse than all that, the Lions simply looked underprepared and outclassed – against the Chiefs!

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The Lions have many issues, and can point fingers in several directions.  Joe Lombardi took the brunt of the blame for the offensives failures, and made for an easy (and in many ways, appropriate) fall-guy.  The defense has been ravaged by injuries, perhaps missing Deandre Levy most of all, and their defensive rankings seem to say they may be missing free agent departure Ndamukong Suh as well.  But losers make excuses, while winners find solutions.

Jim Caldwell is not part of the solution.  When he took over as coach of the Lions, Caldwell made it clear the Lions were not a reclamation project.  Detroit was expected to win, and win immediately. Playoffs (and playoff success) would be the norm and expectation. Caldwell also made it clear that he was comfortable and confident with Matthew Stafford as his franchise quarterback, even if in need of some fine-tuning.  That being the case, Caldwell has failed to accomplish his mission.

Last year, the Lions made the playoffs, but did not win in the playoffs. This year they are fighting for the number one pick in the draft. The offense has stalled out. The running game is non existent. The offensive line is one of the worst in the league. And ‘franchise’ quarterback Stafford is regressing (whether he is becoming a product of his environment or not).

The Lions sold themselves on Caldwell being instrumental in ‘coaching up’ Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco at past jobs. But Caldwell has not been able to ‘fine tune’ Stafford, and he must be held accountable for that.  He should also be held accountable for the failed hiring of Lombardi, the regression of the team as a whole, and that the team looks underprepared and outclassed on a week-to-week basis.

Martha Ford can (but shouldn’t) wait until the offseason of replace Caldwell, but losing is a culture, and Caldwell has shown he is not the man for this job. The Lions might as well get a look to see what Teryl Austin can do as head coach, at least on an interim basis.

Regardless of the Lions decisions moving ahead with (or without) Caldwell, general manager Martin Mayhew and team president Tom Lewand should not escape the reconstruction plans. They are as culpable as anyone for the Lions recent failures, and they have had plenty of time to get things right.

Mayhew (with Lewand) have had a long leash, as they had quite the reconstruction project (overhauling Matt Millen‘s massacre of the franchise). Mayhew has also had some success in free agency and on the trade market.

But this is a bottom-line business, and the Lions have not done a whole lot of winning under Mayhew and Lewand. The Lions have never had consecutive winning seasons under Mayhew and Lewand. They have won zero playoff games.

This year they are fighting for the league’s worst record. And there seems to be a disconnect or denial with the Lions current futility.  As recently as last week, Mayhew exclaimed that Matthew Stafford has hall of fame potential.  He also made it clear the Lions would be ‘buyers’, not sellers at this years trade deadline.

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If Mayhew truly believes all that, then he should be ashamed of how bad Stafford looks this year. While Stafford’s difficulties this year do not fall entirely (or even mainly) on his shoulders, Mayhew and Lewand should not be able to distance themselves from the team’s failures.

They’ve had since 2009 to make the Lions consistent winners, and Detroiters are still waiting.  While the wait continues for Lions fans, time should be up for Caldwell, Mayhew, and Lewand.