Detroit Lions react: Lots of thumbs up for Jim Caldwell
Players laud new coach as a good leader with calm, quiet demeanorDetroit Lions running back Reggie Bush gave Jim Caldwell four thumbs up on Twitter.
Where Bush got four thumbs is a different story.
Plenty of players took to Twitter and social media and e-mail and their phones Tuesday to chime in on the Lions’ new coach.Running back Joique Bell, who played for Caldwell briefly in Indianapolis, tweeted: “Good to know I’ll have my old Head Coach back to replace another great coach. Great move by our front office.”Offensive lineman Dylan Gandy, who played in Indianapolis in 2005-07 and won a Super Bowl alongside Caldwell, said via e-mail: “He’s a great man and a great coach. I think he can bring a lot to the city.”
Some players quietly declined to comment on their new boss. But even offensive tackle Corey Hilliard, who was waived in 2009 in Caldwell’s first year as the Colts’ head coach, harbored no resentment.“It wasn’t his fault that I got cut,” Hilliard said in a phone interview. “It was my fault. I wasn’t playing good enough. He was justified in cutting me from the Colts.”
Over two seasons in Indy, Hilliard got to know Caldwell, who was then Tony Dungy’s quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach.
“Just a mild-mannered, quiet guy,” Hilliard said. “Not one of those big rah-rah guys. He’s very personable. He’s so quiet and laid back, but he’s not a boring guy. He has some personality. He’ll crack jokes and whatnot. But he’s a really good football coach.”
That was the same impression receiver Nate Burleson has of Caldwell from afar.“From the outside looking in, he just seems like a really level-headed dude,” Burleson said in a phone interview. “Doesn’t get too high or too low. He has a great demeanor about him. Extremely professional. Runs a disciplined program, so I like the switch.”
Hilliard referred to Caldwell as “professional” and “a good leader.”
“People look up to him,” Hilliard said. “He’s just a really good guy. That’s all I could really say about him. There’s no magic to it. He’s just a really good person and a really good coach.“I guess it’s just his swagger, the way he carries himself. He’s very calm and nothing rattles him. He has a good poker face. He just doesn’t get rattled. He has a cool demeanor.”
Hilliard said he had no preference for hot-tempered or even-keeled coaches. But if Caldwell is able to build strong relationships with players, his calm approach could serve him well.“It’s kind of like with him, you know you’re not going to get yelled at, but there’s that disappointment factor,” Hilliard said. “Kind of the same way with Dungy. You messed up and Dungy was mad about it and you knew he was just disappointed. He wasn’t going to yell at you, but you knew you let him down and guys didn’t want to let him down. …
“It goes beyond coaching. So as Jim Caldwell comes in and he builds those relationships, that effect works.”
Ultimately, Caldwell’s most important relationship will be with quarterback Matthew Stafford. Burleson said he likes Caldwell’s track record of working with Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco.
“We’ve got one hell of a QB in Matt,” Burleson said. “So if you can make the good even better, then that’s the name of the game, trying to find people you can bring in to elevate the level of already supreme talent. If you can take Matt from good to great and Calvin from — I don’t know how much better he can get, but you know what I’m trying to get at.”
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