The Detroit Lions shouldn’t ignore the success that The Franchise– Matthew Stafford– has had under current offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter.
Jim Caldwell is no longer the coach of the Detroit Lions. Gone. The specter of nine men on the field on defense in a game with playoff ramifications goes with him. So does committing to the run against a bad team, costing the team a win in yet another playoff-affecting loss.
The mistakes of the Caldwell years became too much to overcome, in spite of the great things that happened. Caldwell leaves as the winningest coach in the modern era in Lions history (yes, I know about Gary Moeller… interim coach, guys). He had back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in nearly 30 years. Caldwell was in the playoffs every other year, and with some glaring weaknesses on his rosters each time.
Boy Bob Quinn has brought a refreshing change to the Detroit Lions organization. No longer is “good enough” good enough. Wayne Fontes—the coach with the most wins in Lions coaching history—wouldn’t have lasted under Quinn, because of Fontes’ penchant to make the playoffs one year, then flop to the bottom of the division the following. That was good enough for William Clay Ford for many years. It’s not good enough for BQ and Martha Ford.
The Big, Burning Question
That leads us to today. The Lions have a decision to make, and it’s a big one. Clearly, I am referring to the head coach, but more directly, I am referring to the offensive coordinator, as well. Should the Lions hang on to current offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter?
Before you throw things at me (I might skip the comments section on this one), hear me out. I’ll give you the fact that the run game stunk/stinks under Jim Bob Cooter. It’s brutal. I’ll even allow you that the game planning we’ve seen has been far too conservative.
How many times have we seen Matthew Stafford—a top ten QB, if not better—walk out on the field, only to hand off to an over-matched running back on the first two plays of the game, leading to a three-and-out? Too many, I admit it. But you have to take into account the success the franchise—nay, The Franchise—has had under JBC.
By The Franchise, of course, I am referring to #9—Matthew Stafford. Much of his growth into a top-ten QB (or better, again) has come under the tutelage of our three-named offensive coordinator. Even the national guys recognizing that Stafford has matured into one of the top QBs in the league.
So here’s why we have to ask the question.
Do you risk a setback for The Franchise by bringing in a new offensive coordinator? Let’s say Pat Shurmur, from the Vikings, comes in and changes up the offense, and we have Matt Stafford of 5 years ago as he learns a new offense? Stafford will soon be 30. Do we, the fans- or the team—have time to wait for him to grow into a new version of what we already know can be a winner?
The Lions offense, for many of the gripes I’ve heard, was in the top ten in scoring in the league. Stafford was the highest rated QB on play-action passes in the league, in spite of the running game offering NO threat. Can you imagine what might happen if there was an actual threat of effective running game behind it?
My theory on this is that Caldwell played too close to vest—risk-aversion, if you will—and it kept the handcuffs on our O-coordinator, and therefore our QB.
I don’t know the answer—I think only Bob Quinn truly does—but it’s at least something to think about as the Lions move on to their next coach.