Jim Caldwell vs Dan Campbell

The thread about AG had me thinking about this.

I was never a Jim Caldwell fan because I didn’t like his schemes. But he was successful at least to the lower standards of success. It just goes to show you how important coaching is.

Lets take Caldwell’s best season 2014. And compare it to 2023.

QB - Caldwell - I know this will upset people but Stafford is/was the better QB.
RB - Campbell (by a lot) - although Reggie Bush, Bell, and Riddick were good.
TE - Campbell (by a lot) - LaPorta alone smokes Ebron, and Pettigrew.
WR - Caldwell - Yes, ARSB is the man but Caldwell had Calvin, and Golden Tate.
OL - Campbell (by a lot) - Reiff, Swanson, and Warford were solid players.
DL - Caldwell (by a lot) - Suh, Fairley, Ansah.
LB - Campbell (barely). Levy was on another planet at this time. Whitehead wasn’t bad. AA, Barnes, and Jack barely win this.
DB’s - Caldwell (by a lot) - Slay, Mathis, GQ were much better. Branch is the only challenge to them.
ST’s - Tied. Campbell has the better overall ST but Prater, and Martin keeps this tied.

I have them tied as far as talent. But Campbell #2 in scoring, #2 at stopping the run, 12 wins, division title, and NFCCG.

Obviously, people will have different opinions as some of my rankings are subjective, but I think what separates the two teams besides coaching is without a doubt the offensive line.


I love Caldwell, as a man. One handsome MF’r too. Great leader of men…most boring coaching style in the history of the NfL.


Dan is by far the better coach. He has a better staff and better leadership in the front office. Dan even has better ownership


Joe Lombardi vs Ben Johnson. Miles apart.

I think this comparison IMO also proves how good AG was with the talent he had. Caldwell/Austin had a stacked defense. I couldn’t stand Austin, and his bend don’t break defense. No doubt in my mind AG is way better not to mention the love from the players he gets, and their credit to their development. Austin’s defense was #1 at stopping the run (and tops in other categories), but with much less talent AG had his defense #2. That says a lot.

After these comparisons, and looking on paper, this team looks like it’s ready to make a big jump as if they weren’t great already.


That year the lions were robbed in the playoffs against the cowboys and we will never know how far they would have taken it. Same like last year for us.

People refuse to give Caldwell credit for his coaching. But his coaching decision was to mitigate the massive holes in the team.

He had no running game so he couldn’t run up the score so he relied on winning at the last minute because he had one of the best QBs at comebacks.

People were very forgiving of Campbell during this “retool” and were even forgiving of Patricia while he just had to “get his guys.” People were not very forgiving of Caldwell the same way they aren’t forgiving of AG. And it’s because the coaching IS that good that it is causing us to overrate the actual talent that is out there.

Our Cb room last year is what Caldwell had in his RB/OL room.

If Holmes failed to address it this season we would ALL think he was trying to sabotage AG/campbell. But when Quinn failed to address it people just blamed Caldwell.

Bottom line is It’s an unfair comparison. Campbell is set up for success while Caldwell wasn’t.


Yup - GM much better for coach dan.

caldwell kept games close and let Stafford win at the end of games…that was his strategy. It wasn’t good enough to beat good teams…cuz one man can’t beat football teams by himself…but against mediocre teams, it worked. Our horrible team beat some decent teams.


I agree with most of what you said, but Caldwell did have great talent. That’s why I did the comparison. If I was forced to choose I would give Caldwell’s roster the slight edge. Yeah, the run game, and OL is huge. That’s also why I m mentioned the biggest factor was this current teams OLine.

We’re also talking 12 wins, and division title.

I wasn’t a fan of Caldwell’s coaching style, but I’m def not bashing the guy. Our new coaching staff is just much better all around.


I would slightly disagree with this statement though. I did put in my comparison that Campbell’s OL, and RB’s are much better. So, for sure I agree on that. But Reiff, Swanson, Warford were solid, and so was Reggie Bush, and Theo Riddick. I’ll take the Reggie, and Theo versions of CB’s all day.

Caldwell took over a very talented team. Not a rebuild.


This. It was a full on rebuild. Not a “re-tool”. I was very forgiving when in their 2nd year they started 1-6. One of the greatest rebuilds in history.

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Yes to all of this. For me, I’m just comparing roster talent. Coaching style is also the point. But better GM is a different topic. No one in the history of this team comes close to BH. Ugh, I couldn’t with Mayhew. This is very sad with no offense to BH the man among men.

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I always respected Jim… dude had a winning record as Lions coach. That aint easy to do.

Good leader of men… just not a game changer.

He would need an amazing OC and DC to win at a high level… kinda like AG when he becomes a head coach :laughing:


Caldwell was better than anything they’d had in a long time, but most years his teams finished weak and they never won in the playoffs.

It’s a shame they replaced him with fatboy, but I’m pretty satisfied with Campbell so far


Is there anything about this team most of us didn’t see that was the absolute worst? “9 wins wasn’t good enough anymore.” And I agreed. With Caldwell, it seemed like they were stuck on above average. MP was supposed to take this team to the next level, and completely burned it down. Seriously, what has this team not gone through?


It’s a little sad how exciting this was… lol


Let me sum this up…




Pictures are worth so much more than a thousand words!


Caldwell is a very good HC. He was not very aggressive.
Dan Campbell is a great HC. He has no idea how not to be aggressive. Stafford would have loved playing for him.


Agreed on the aggressiveness part. Caldwell brought a discipline and restraint that was needed, but it sometimes went too far into being timid.

I think that’s a function of the conservativeness of that era and coaching tree as much as anything intrinsic to him.

The other stark difference is that Campbell moves far more decisively to fix problems on his staff. I think Caldwell was loyal to his own detriment in this area.

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