Former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell is gaining buzz as a head coaching candidate, but will he actually get another chance?
Over four seasons as Detroit Lions head coach, Jim Caldwell posted a 36-28 record with at least nine wins three times and two playoff appearances. That’s literally the most successful four-year stretch the franchise has had going back close to 30 years.
But Caldwell was let go after a 9-7, non-playoff campaign in 2017, so then-Lions general manager Bob Quinn could hire the coach he wanted–Matt Patricia. Less than three seasons later, Patricia and Quinn were out.
With a two-year stint (2012-2013) on the Baltimore Ravens’ staff in-between, Caldwell got his first NFL head coaching job with the Indianapolis Colts, lasting three seasons with 26-22 record. That first season, 2009, was capped by a trip to the Super Bowl. But a 2-14 campaign in 2011, as Peyton Manning was sidelined by a neck injury, cost Caldwell his job.
Will Jim Caldwell get another shot to be a head coach?
Caldwell last worked in the NFL in 2019 with the Miami Dolphins. Health issues led to him taking a leave of absence in the middle of that season, and he was not brought back.
Just before Urban Meyer was let go by the Jacksonville Jaguars, former Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky loathed the fact Meyer was an NFL head coach and Caldwell was not. In response to that, and Meyer’s firing that week, Caldwell has been easy to tie to the coming job opening in Jacksonville. But what about those aforementioned health concerns?
Former NFL head coach Tony Dungy addressed that in a response within Orlovsky’s tweet thread, suggesting Caldwell is healthy and ready to go. Caldwell worked under Dungy for one season in Tampa Bay and seven (2002-2008) in Indianapolis before succeeding Dungy as Colts’ head coach.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano mentioned Caldwell as someone “of interest to teams with openings and potential openings.” Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports also mentioned Caldwell in a recent piece talking about head coaching candidates.
"Jim Caldwell: The former Colts and Lions head coach should have been on every team’s list last year and should remain on those lists this cycle."
The Chicago Bears will have a head coaching opening, with the firing of Matt Nagy a formality at this point. When asked on Twitter who the Bears should hire, ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller had Caldwell on a list of four candidates that intrigued him.
Caldwell wouldn’t be a hire that “wins the press conference.” But he got a raw deal in Detroit, and you can’t find a head coach who would’ve done any better without Peyton Manning in 2011. Getting a third chance to be a head coach is rare, but Caldwell might just get one if he wants it. It appears there will be interest in him.