Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell will begin the 2016 season firmly on the hot seat and his first test will be against the team he spent a decade with.
Caldwell and the Lions will take on the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, a place where he was hired in 2002 as Tony Dungy’s assistant. He won a Super Bowl on Dungy’s staff in 2006 and later became the head coach of the organization in 2009 when Dungy retired.
After a couple successful years in Indianapolis, including a Super Bowl appearance, the Colts faltered. The downfall was due to Peyton Manning being lost for the entire 2011 because of a neck injury. Indianapolis fell apart in the quarterback’s absence, finished the season 2-14 and Caldwell was let go.
The Lions head coach is letting his experiences in 2011 help him as he begins this season on the hot seat.
“Sure, absolutely (I got a fair shake),” Caldwell said, per MLive.com. “I’ll just tell you this. I think you know me from all these years, that I believe this is a game where you have to win football games. You don’t win football games, you’re subject to be fired. I’ve always believed that. And not only that, you have a right to be (fired).
“I’ve always believed that, and never will change in that regard. Don’t back away from it, that’s the nature of our business. Since I started coaching years ago I’ve always believed that’s indeed the case. We’ve got to do our part.”
Caldwell landed a job on Baltimore’s staff before being hired to lead the Lions in 2014. The Lions went went 11-5 in Caldwell’s first season and the Lions made the playoffs, but in 2015 the team lost its first six games and finished 7-9.
During the 2015 season, Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford vowed to shake up the organization. She hired general manager Bob Quinn and president Rod Wood. It was believed the hirings meant the end for Caldwell in Detroit. However, after a series of meetings the Lions retained Caldwell.
The events of last season have Caldwell on thin ice. It’s ironic he’ll start this important season at the place where he made a name for himself in 2002.