Caldwell & Campbell comparison

There have been numerous discussions on Caldwell and his time in Detroit; should or shouldn’t he have been fired etc etc.

There was a question in today’s Detroit News Mailbag and I found J Rogers answer interesting on the differences between Caldwell led team and Campbell led team.

:arrow_forward: Q: You have covered the team under a few different regimes in your time on the beat — in your estimation from being around them, does this one truly feel different, especially in a better way? — @EricSalonen

:arrow_forward: A: Culturally, there’s a pretty significant overlap between what is currently being built and what Jim Caldwell had going on during his tenure in Detroit. That’s because both coaches treat players with respect and take a genuine interest in them as people. That fosters an environment where you want to play for your leaders.

The biggest difference between this regime and that one is the relationship between the front office and coaching staff is stronger, with a concerted effort toward always being on the same page. Ownership deserves plenty of credit for putting the pieces in place to foster that kind of environment.

Additionally, Caldwell’s squads were veteran-heavy and largely maxed out on their potential. Dan Campbell and Holmes have a young roster and everything and everyone is growing together. The ceiling for this roster, including the upcoming draft assets, is as high, if not higher, than the 2014 Lions (the most talented team I’ve covered), while having potential for far greater staying power.


I found the comparison interesting especially on the coaching staff front office relationship and the contrast in players; young vs old.

Is it accurate?


They do have the same 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th & 8th letters in their name. Outside of that, I see nothing.


Campbell is very excitable and animated, while Caldwell always had the same expression and looked like a damn mime on the sideline.

1 Like

Very similar, as in good leaders of men & good ball coaches. Personality, coaching styles, etc not so much


Also, Campbell improved his in-game management. Caldwell never did.


Right. I think the similarities are trust and respect, but it’s where that originates that is markedly different. Caldwell being the father-type personality with Dan being much more the field warrior with an attack plan and the experience that adds to his credibility.


It is hard to compare he situations as when a coach takes over and the type of team he takes over matters. One of the reasons Schwartz was fired after 2013 was his team got worse over the course of the season, not better. Stafford overall folded like a tent in the last four games. That 2013 team BLEW the Packers out on Thanksgiving then went 0-4 to finish 7-9. There were awful meltdowns V. the Bucs and the snow game V. the Eagles along the way that season but that 2013 team was solid and had no business going 7-9. That club ended up 13th in scoring and 15th in points allowed. And Stafford was broken, Calvin’s finger was torn up and the team was in disarray. Caldwell walked into that. And Jim rebuilt Stafford into what he is now and that team overall played up to their potential.

I don’t think a Dan Campbell would have been a good fit for that 2014 team and I don’t think Caldwell would be a good fit for our young Lions now.

Campbell is a fire-breather and young guys eat that up. Vets however know there is a game next week and strategy and subtly are necessary for them.

I loved the Caldwell hire as I thought it was what that team needed (and he should never have been fired) and I liked the Campbell hire at the time as it was clear the Lions are going young. As the Lions age Campbell will likely learn how to better relate to VETERANS versus 22 year old kids. I am excited about that.

The front office division under Caldwell has been a mystery here for YEARS. Here on this board we debated the hiring of Joe Lombardi day one. There was never a connection between Caldwell and Lombardi and then the front office drafts Ebron shocking all of us in 2014. That NEVER made any sense except Mayhew and company were forcing the Saints on to the Lions without a head coach on board. Most of us wanted to draft Odell or DT Donald…I wanted CB Kyle Fuller but Ebron was not loved as we all saw small hands, a high drop % and an immature attitude that came out in interviews. Yet we drafted him anyway. Also, Suh and Fairley were on the way out and we all knew that in 2014 and we went a TE anyway.

I believe that issue has in fact been corrected. To me it is easy to see Holmes and Campbell in the 2014 draft situation themselves now. I don’t know who they would have picked but no way would they have agreed on Ebron as the pick. And to be fair the draft contract rules did tie Mayhew’s hands a bit BUT Mayhew screwed up Suh’s situation and that contributed to Suh leaving in 2015. To me Brad would have likely traded Suh and gotten something for him like he did with Stafford IF Brad thought he could not get a deal done. I don’t think Brad would allow his team to be leveraged by a player.

The 2014 Lions signed Golden Tate and we had Calvin but I don’t think a Holmes/Campbell would have ruled out WR Beckham. We had Fairley and Suh but I don’t think they would have ruled out Donald. Zach Martin was also on the board and he was a BEAST they may have considered. Impossible to know but clear to see Front Office blowing the most important pick of Caldwell’s tenure.

The 2015 Lions went 7-9 (thanks to Caldwell and Stafford) but they were 23rd in points against and 18th in points scored as Mayhew was fired too. That ONE 2014 draft pick was critical and it showed the gulf between head coach and front office and we all KNEW it then.

The Lions then repeated a bad approach by hiring Bob Quinn who then tried to draft for a scheme and a coach he didn’t understand. The 2016 draft was really, really good and the 2017 draft killed Caldwell and the Lions including Bob Quinn.


Morgan Freeman Applause GIF by The Academy Awards


I think Bob’s 2016 draft class will forever be an underrated class when it comes to how damn good of a job he did. Very few GMs can say they ever had a class with that many guys becoming “long time” NFL players. He missed on the long snapper though. LOL


Of course, they’re both great clock managers.
Beyond that, DC is fire, where JC is cool.

Risdon answered this question also, and the big difference that he pointed to was that Caldwell was a zero at player development. Wanted vets; no interest in developing the young guys. That is the hallmark of the current team.

Campbell is a cap hell; full rebuild guy.

Caldwell was brought in to take a good roster to the next level. The expectations were playoffs and contention. He said so himself. Instead we plateau.

Many still seem bitter about the 9-7 not being good enough, and considering what happened after, it’s understandable. Caldwell failed to do what he was brought here to do. The firing was fine. What followed was not.

1 Like

Completely different ends of the risk taking/risk aversion spectrum

1 Like

Yes, he should’ve.

Caldwell wanted Lombardi. He wanted a guy who worked with an elite QB (Brees) to come and work on teaching Stafford how to run an offense. Lombardi is the one who wanted Ebron. The Lions were trying to recreate the Saints offense, and Lombardi wanted someone who would do what Jimmy Graham would do for the Saints.

Caldwell also stumped hard for bringing in Ron Prince and made him TE coach and assistant head coach. Prince was a horrible coach. He destroyed what Bill Synder built at K-State, so completely the Snyder himself came out of retirement to put the pieces back together. K-State immediately got better when Snyder returned. Caldwell also was fiercely loyal to Teryl Austin, who made the Lions defense progressively worse and who also couldn’t count to 11.

I don’t believe Caldwell was a good overall coach. I DO believe he was a good coach for what the Lions needed post Jim Schwartz. Schwartz was known to be a dick to everyone, played favorites, and greatly encouraged his players to be dicks. Caldwell got the Lions to calm down, and got the locker room under control.

I do believe Dan Cambell is a good coach, and is also good for what the Lions are doing. The coaches Campbell brought in are all focusing on teaching the current players and making them better. Campbell has the right temperment, and knows how and when to push buttons. He has his flaws, as all coaches do, but Campbell seems very strong on self evaluation and pushes himself to be better. He doesn’t just change his mind for the sake of it, and he also doesn’t die with his own cause. If things he did aren’t working, he is shown to pivot if he truly thinks it’s not working. He’s also shown he will learn from mistakes, like the first Vikings game.

I know everyone gets stuck in hyperbole these days, between greatest coach ever and worst coach of all time. That being said, just because Caldwell was a better coach than Schwartz, and much better than Patricia, does not mean Caldwell himself was good. He was a bad coach, and there’s plenty of proof that dictates it. Just take a look at Caldwell’s record in successive seasons.


Rogers specifically said culturally. He didn’t compare their personalities. He didn’t even compare X’s and O’s. Culturally, I can most definitely see the overlap. Players love them both. Campbell definitely has an advantage in Holmes.


I don’t think this could possibly be overstated.:clap:

1 Like

Good point.

Rogers made a point of how this front office/coaching staff’s relationship is much stronger than the Caldwell one. I do wonder if an implication is being made intentionally by Rogers when he says the current group works hard to be on the same page.

The two biggest differences to me between Caldwell and Campbell are the assistant coaches they hired and their aggressiveness. Caldwell was always very conservative especially on offense. That cost us in several games. Especially against Dallas in the playoffs. Dan is much more aggressive and plays to win. So far that style has worked more often than not. The biggest advantage to me between the two is Campbell has put together a much better coaching staff top to bottom than Caldwell did.


You might be right but at the time on this board we were all scratching our heads about Lombardi. Jim Bob Cooter however worked under Caldwell for three seasons and Caldwell brought Jim Bob to Detroit and Jim Bob took over when Lombardi was fired. Many here, today AND then, thought Lombardi was a VERY strange hire for an OC.

In Detroit Campbell worked with Glenn AND Ben Johnson (who Patricia brought with him). Anthony Lynn was a strange hire as Campbell didn’t appear to have close ties to him but it us clear Dan respected him and that Dan wanted an experienced play caller. Dan also pulled that plug early when he saw the writing on the wall.

Concerning Prince, the Lions lost so much talent I am not worried about things overall. Caldwell took us to the playoffs 2/4 seasons and left with a winning record. We haven’t seen a winning record again until 2022.

I like both Caldwell AND Campbell and I think the FO and staff are aligned better now and that is critical.