Is Dan Campbell’s 9-8 Season Better Than Jim Caldwell’s 9-7? A Deeper Look

    Dan Campbell,Jim Caldwell
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    Dan Campbell v. Jim Caldwell

    A.J. Reilly: We've got one more thing before we get to Hoorah and who cares? Oh, man. And it's something that's popped up on social media and we feel like we have to weigh in.

    Yes. But a few years ago, there was a head coach for the Detroit Lions who was fired after a nine and seven season. Mm-hmm. . And now we have a head coach who's being celebrated for a nine and eight season. Mm-hmm. , we wanna give this credit to, it looks like Alamy, uh, is who this photo was created by, but the question is, is this fair?

    Like, what's in a regime? Is Dan Campbell's nine and eight really better than Jim Caldwell's nine and seven? And is the narrative accurate? I, I don't really know how to frame this question other than what's the difference? 

    Eric Vincent: It's a lot of difference. 

    A.J. Reilly: Okay. 

    Eric Vincent: It's a lot 

    A.J. Reilly: I have a personal stake when it comes to Jim Caldwell, and I'll talk about it in a minute, but like, what are your thoughts on this?

    Campbell Vs. Caldwell Needs To Stop

    Eric Vincent: This needs to stop. Detroit Lions fans need to stop. Like this was, this was going on early in the season. Um, there's a lot of misplaced anger in this. I understand those who are supportive of Jim Caldwell. Me and Ricky have talked about this a lot. I believe while I wanted him gone, if he would've got another year, like a short-term extension after what he did with his records, I'd have been fine with that.

    I mean, he did pretty well. 11 to five, first-year seven and nine. Second year nine and seven in, you know, back to back in your final two seasons, you know, and then the Quinn-Tricia era comes in and they say nine and seven's not enough. That is where the anger rises. It is. Hundred percent. It's not with Dan Campbell.

    No, it's not with this regime. It's with what Quinn-Tricia left this team to be. It's not with what we're seeing with these coaches, man. So, again, I, if you maybe could have made this comparison earlier in the season, because what do we see from Dan Campbell? The inability to make halftime adjustments. Mm-hmm. the inability to be good with clock management.

    The ability to, uh, to like be a methodical coach. We weren't seeing that to start off the second half of the season. That wasn't even a discussion. Dan Campbell cleaned up all his mistakes. Yeah. And that was a problem with Jim Caldwell. He was bad with time management. He was really bad with his timeout usage.

    Didn't make any kind of adjustments on either side of the ball. And one of my biggest problems that I always talk about, We, we see their personalities. Caldwell's a very reserved guy. Campbell's that rah-rah leader. And to me, I feel like that resonates more with the fan base, especially with what they've been through.

    When you go through things like the Seattle screw job on that Monday night game mm-hmm. the playoff game against the Cowboys. What did, uh, Jim Caldwell do? Oh, hey. Well, I mean, we just, we just gotta play better. We can't put No, you got jobbed. We just talked about holding the league accountable. That could have been a, uh, uh, ability for him to do that and to stamp himself with the fan base.

    He never did that. His players liked him, but I feel like it's a different level of connection now. What we're seeing from Dan Campbell in this, uh, regime, especially considering the leadership as well. Brad Holmes, I think is more, um, he's more sought out for this and more built for it than a Martin Mayhew was.

    Mm-hmm. . I just think it's totally different. I think it's completely different. And these comparisons need to stop. 

    Jim Caldwell

    A.J. Reilly: I agree a hundred percent. Now, I was a Jim Caldwell fan, but that stems from a personal encounter. In my first year of college football, I was playing football in a small school in Indiana, and Caldwell was the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for the Colts, and mm-hmm.

    we weren't that far from Indianapolis. And he came up and he did one of our team chapels. And so we got to, he talked to us and, you know, we got to ask some questions and I gotta talk to him about Peyton, who was my favorite player at the time. And he's just a super nice guy. Great guy, right? And then he became the head coach of my team.

    I was like, oh, that, you know, awesome. I remembered you know, talking to him and it was great and fantastic and wonderful and like, I think that he'll do a good job. And, don't forget that he also was the head coach after Tony Dungy in Indianapolis, and Yep. It, went okay, but then ended poorly and so he comes to Detroit right.

    And goes 11 and five. Great. Seven to nines next year, and then back-to-back nine and seven teams. Yep. The criticism of Jim Caldwell is correct. 

    Eric Vincent: Yes. 

    A.J. Reilly: There's no doubt about that. Now, did some of that have to do with the people who he hired as his coordinators? 

    Eric Vincent: Yes. 

    dan campbell vs jim caldwell

    A.J. Reilly: Joe Lombardi being one of them. Okay. Yeah.

    Turning Matthew Stafford talked about how great Caldwell was as a head coach and as a player's coach, which I have no doubt about that. But you also had to be able to manage a game, which he did not do very well. So nine and seven, four years into a stint. Yeah. It probably isn't good enough.

    Should it have been good enough for the Detroit Lions at that point in time? Yeah, it probably should have been. 

    Eric Vincent: Mm-hmm. 

    A.J. Reilly: Okay. But you hit the nail on the head when your GM comes in and goes nine and seven is just not gonna do it anymore. And then you hire somebody who doesn't even sniff nine wins in his entire tenure here.

    Eric Vincent: Right.

    A.J. Reilly: Right. Like, That's not great, man. 

    Eric Vincent: Mm-hmm. 

    Dan Campbell Is In A Completely Different Situation

    A.J. Reilly: But Dan Campbell's a completely different situation. 

    Eric Vincent: Yes. 

    A.J. Reilly: This is, this is, these are not equal at all. 

    Eric Vincent: Mm-hmm. 

    A.J. Reilly: nine and seven, four years in. Yeah. You probably should be a little bit better than that. Your GM wasn't great. Okay. I get all that. You had, uh, plenty of turnover with coordinators and all that, but at the same time, this is year two of a very serious rebuild.

    Eric Vincent: Yes. 

    A.J. Reilly: A very serious rebuild. 

    Eric Vincent: Yes. 

    A.J. Reilly: And you went nine and eight with a roster that really should have only been good enough for six wins the offense 

    Eric Vincent: Yes.

    A.J. Reilly: Helped immensely because they were a top-five offense in the NFL. There's no doubt about that. Sometimes you can just outscore people. 

    Eric Vincent: Mm-hmm. 

    A.J. Reilly: But that defense that they had, worst in the league through the first seven weeks.

    Eric Vincent: Yep. 

    A.J. Reilly: Improved to 17th in the league over the last 10. Great. We'd love to see improvement, especially from the coaching staff, but these two situations are not similar 

    Eric Vincent: at all. 

    A.J. Reilly: At all. Not even close. Do you know why? Because nine and eight now is kind of the floor. 

    Eric Vincent: Yeah, exactly. 

    A.J. Reilly: Now, if Dan Campbell goes six and 11 next year and then follows that up with the nine and eight season, guess what?

    Nine and eight ain't good enough. 

    Eric Vincent: Mm-hmm.

    A.J. Reilly: I don't think that's going to happen, but these two situations are not even close. And they should even be considered close. 

    Eric Vincent: I think another big part of that difference is, again, you, you just spoke on about what point they're at. When they were with Caldwell, they weren't a young team trying to find their way.

    You had a Matthew Stafford-led team that said, okay, how can we get this guy at the postseason? 

    A.J. Reilly: Yeah. 

    Eric Vincent: How can we get Megatron in the postseason? How can we get this young veteran talent in the postseason? This is a young team. As you said, it's super, super early. That's exceeding expectations right now.

    A.J. Reilly: One of the youngest in the NFL. 

    Eric Vincent: Yes, and that's, that says a lot. You are not, 

    A.J. Reilly: yes. 

    Eric Vincent: He's given a little more leeway because of that and because they're playing so well, it makes them that much more beloved. You weren't really, you didn't have that. You had a lot of pieces during the Calwell era that people were iffy on.

    Like everyone, as you said, people didn't love Stafford through and through. That was not a thing with Detroit Lions fans. There were a lot of people who hated him. A lot of people liked him. So it was, it was not that much love consistently throughout. So they did have that, with that roster. And it's a lot different from what you see right now with Campbell in the Brad Holmes era.

    A.J. Reilly: I think that Detroit Lions fans, and listen, I love you guys. I'm one of you. I feel like since they can't be mad at the team anymore, they gotta find something to be angry about. 

    Eric Vincent: Yes. 

    A.J. Reilly: And it's just not, come on, let's move past that. As a collective group, we have a second year of a rebuild that went nine and eight with the, I think second youngest or youngest team in the NFL.

    Eric Vincent: Yes. 

    A.J. Reilly: That's now the floor. 

    Eric Vincent: Yes. 

    A.J. Reilly: If you come into 2023 expecting less than nine wins, it's a problem. 

    Eric Vincent: Yes. 

    A.J. Reilly: Nine wins is the floor next year. 

    Eric Vincent: Fred with an awesome point too. Yeah. Caldwell had a problem beating teams above 500. Campbell's done that. Beat the Vikings. You beat the Giants. Uh, I think, I don't know if the Packers were at one point above 500, but um, yeah, you, you beat good teams within the division. You got the wins that they weren't getting in that era. Like that means something. 

    A.J. Reilly: Now I not necessarily disagreeing with Ricky here. I think Patricia or he's right. Quinn-Tricia did Caldwell dearly for sure. 

    Eric Vincent: Yes, sure. And the fan base. 

    A.J. Reilly: Yeah. And the fan base. 

    Eric Vincent: Mm-hmm. 

    A.J. Reilly: Yeah. There's no doubt about that. But the problem that everybody's getting hung up on is when you go out and you say nine and eight's not good enough. And then you don't get to nine wins over the next three years.

    Eric Vincent: Yes. 

    A.J. Reilly: That's the problem.

    About The Show:

    Dan Campbell,Jim Caldwell

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