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Jim Caldwell hired by Lions as head coach

Jim-Caldwell-LionsJim Caldwell has been hired by the Detroit Lions to be their next head coach, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Caldwell spent the last two seasons as offensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens. He took over as head coach in Indianapolis when Tony Dungy stepped down in 2009, leading the Colts to a Super Bowl appearance in his first season. The Colts went 2-14 the following year when Peyton Manning missed the entire season, and Caldwell was fired.

For a while it seemed like Ken Whisenhunt would be a good fit for the Lions, but he agreed to become the head coach of the Tennessee Titans on Monday. The Lions announced that Caldwell was their man less than 24 hours after that move.

Detroit fans may view replacing Jim Schwartz with Caldwell as somewhat of a lateral move. Given the talent the Lions have on offense, it makes sense that the team would bring in an offensive-minded coach to take over. Time will tell if Caldwell is a significant upgrade or not.

Lions fans receive playoff tickets day after team is eliminated

Lions-fansThe Detroit Lions were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday. Some of their fans, who irritated head coach Jim Schwartz by booing at the end of regulation, were reminded of the team’s misfortunes when they received a special package in the mail on Monday. Yup, playoff tickets.

Like many other teams, the Lions had already begun preparing for the prospect of a postseason run by printing playoff tickets. According to the Detroit Free Press, the team mailed out the invoices for the tickets last month. At the time, the Lions were in first place in the NFC North division. They have lost three of four games since.

To make matters worse, Twitter user Jeff Naz said the team is offering a credit toward next year’s tickets rather than refunding the cost of the playoff tickets.

In reality, these things happen. It’s just painful for Lions fans that they happened to receive their useless tickets a day after losing an overtime game in brutal fashion. Maybe this will help Matthew Stafford’s girlfriend gain a better understanding of what this tortured fan base has to deal with.

Brandon Marshall: Detroit Lions are like our annoying little brother

Brandon-Marshall-BearsThe Detroit Lions got the best of the Chicago Bears in both meetings between the NFC North rivals this season, and as a result Jim Schwartz’ team is currently in first place. However, Brandon Marshall is not quite ready to give the Lions the credit they may deserve.

While standing in as a host on “The Jay Cutler Show” on ESPN 1000 Monday, Marshall compared the Lions to an annoying “little brother” who is not better than the older brother but simply managed to beat him.

“It’s the little brother that kind of grew up a little bit,” Marshall joked. “He may be a little taller than the big brother. He’s not stronger. He’s not better than the big brother at anything. But that one day, he just says, ‘I’m fed up. I’m done. I’m gonna punch my brother in the face.’

“It’s the little brother that, big brother wants to go out and play with his friends and the little brother is annoying, [saying], ‘Hey, can I go?’ No, you can’t go, Detroit Lions. Sit back. Sit in your little city. Fix your financial problems and all of that, you know. You can’t come with us right now. But right now, they’ve got the best of us. They beat us twice. They swept us. But what matters is when we see them in the playoffs. It’ll be a great show. It’s gonna be tough. But I guarantee it’s not gonna go down like it did the first two games.”

With Jay Cutler nursing multiple injuries, the Bears are hardly a lock for the postseason. Marshall also indicated that he felt some late hits from the Lions contributed to his team’s diminishing health.

“They’re borderline illegal,” he said. “I’ll attach my name to it. I’m looking at film today, and it was kind of disgusting to see the D-line go out of their way to knock our quarterbacks down after every single play. The ball was gone. They’re pushing them down. They’re hitting them below their knees. It was kind of disgusting.”

The Lions are certainly used to hearing people call them out for cheap shots and illegal hits, but this is a no-win argument for Marshall. Detroit beat Chicago twice, and both wins are huge given how close the standings are. Now, it is Marshall’s team that will have to find a way to make up for it.

Reggie Bush: Lions team most talented I have ever been on

Reggie-Bush-DolphinsReggie Bush may not have gotten the ball as much as he would have liked during his five seasons with the New Orleans Saints, but he did win a Super Bowl and play with some of the game’s best players. The 2009 Super Bowl champion Saints were loaded with big names like Drew Brees and Marques Colston on offense and bruisers like Jonathan Vilma, Roman Harper and Darren Sharper on defense. Apparently that level of talent did not match up to the 2013 Detroit Lions.

During a recent interview with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, Bush was asked if he believes his current team is the most talented he has ever played on.

“I do,” Bush said, via MLive.com. “I feel like our talent matches up with anybody’s in this league. … We’re really talented and we just got to work hard. And leadership has to improve. We just got to improve in all areas and I think we’re going to be a tough team this year. We’re going to score a lot of points.”

In a sense, Bush is right. The Lions have a tremendous amount of talent on offense, led by the best receiver on the planet in Calvin Johnson. That being said, this is a Detroit team that finished 4-12 last season. Reaching the playoffs in 2013 would require a major turnaround, but Bush has his sights set on a championship.

“I came here to work,” he told the Detroit News on Wednesday. “I didn’t come here to vacation. I came here to win championships, to win football games, and that’s what I look forward to doing.”

Confidence is a positive and it’s nice to see that Bush is optimistic about his new team, but the Lions need to be careful not to set the bar too high. Earlier this month, Nick Fairley said he expects Detroit to reach the Super Bowl in 2013. Super Bowl? As much talent as anyone in the league? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

Nick Fairley: Lions are going to Super Bowl

Nick-Fairley-LionsAfter a tremendously disappointing 4-12 season last year, the Detroit Lions are looking to get back on track in 2013 and contend for a playoff spot. Jim Schwartz’s team’s inability to take things one game at a time last season cost them in the long run, which is why it will be important for the Lions to simplify things when training camp begins.

For starters, Detroit should not be thinking about the Super Bowl just yet. Someone needs to tell that to defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

“I expect big things,” Fairley told the Detroit News earlier this week. “I am going to say we are going to the Super Bowl because I am competitive and that is what I want for the team and it is one of the goals. I am sure we are going to take it game by game and day by day.

“I always have high expectations. I got my kickball tournament and I am trying to win these games. It is the competitor in me that comes out on Sundays.”

There is nothing wrong with being confident and setting out to win a championship. That is exactly what you want from players, but it’s probably not a great idea to bring up the Super Bowl when your team won only four games a season ago. The Lions may have been too cocky coming off their impressive 2011 season in which they reached the postseason for the first time in 12 years. Now, it’s back to basics.

Fairley believes his team can win the Super Bowl and that’s great. However, this NFL coach could tell you that sometimes it’s best to not raise fan expectations if you can help it — especially with a fan base as frustrated as the one in Detroit.

Jim Schwartz’s family is finally speaking with him again after Lions’ terrible season

The Detroit Lions were one of the most disappointing teams in football last season, going from a playoff appearance in 2011 to a miserable 4-12 record in 2012. After posting its first winning record in 11 years, the team was expected to continue improving and possibly even win a playoff game. Instead, the Lions went in the opposite direction.

Head coach Jim Schwartz took a lot of the blame for the four-win season, but it wasn’t just the fans who were upset with him. His own sons were also furious with their father.

“Nobody is happy. My kids are just starting to talk to me again,” Schwartz said earlier this week, via MLive.com’s Anwar S. Richardson. “My son (has) a lot of Lions posters and sweatshirts and hats. They weren’t happy with 4-12 either. Believe me, nobody was, and we all want to get that taste out of our mouth. The only way we are going to get that out is if we move on past it, and we identify what the unique capabilities of this team are, try to accentuate those, identify our weaknesses, try to minimize those, try hard every day in the offseason and training camp, and have a good game plan each week.”

We’ve heard the whole “my wife won’t even talk to me” bit before when coaches or teams struggle, but Schwartz reiterated that he was serious about his family being angry. He said his son Christian took the abysmal season particularly hard.

“That wasn’t a joke. He was mad,” Schwartz said. “If you see his room, he’s got Lions helmets and jerseys. It’s not because he’s my son. It’s because he’s a big Lions fan. If I worked down at the Rogue (automotive plant), he’d still have all that same stuff. He’s a fan … I imagine that you walk into the Rogue on Monday morning after a Lions loss, nobody is in a good mood. Nobody is in a good mood over in Allen Park either. Part of our job is moving on and getting ready for the next week.”

A lot of things went wrong for the Lions last season. They were certainly better than their 4-12 record indicated, but you have to make a lot of mistakes to lose 12 games in a season. Schwartz took the blame from one particular player for losing control of the team, but it certainly wasn’t all his fault. Regardless of who was or was not to blame, Lions fans were given flashbacks. When you look at their records through the 2000s, you realize that is a very bad thing.

Photo credit: Jim Brown/US Presswire

Nate Burleson tries to convince Reggie Bush to sign with the Lions

The Detroit Lions are in need of help at the running back position, and the name Reggie Bush seems to keep coming up in association with their backfield. Although he once again showed that he is susceptible to injury last season, Bush played in all 16 regular season game with the Miami Dolphins and nearly rushed for 1,000 yards. He also hauled in 35 receptions out of the backfield.

While I highly doubt Bush is capable of remaining healthy and being effective as an every-down back, he could be a nice fit in an offense that throws the ball a lot like Detroit’s. That’s why Lions receiver Nate Burleson is trying to recruit him.

“I’m going to just say this, ‘Reggie Bush, you already took your talents to South Beach, come on to Detroit,’” Burleson told NFL Network’s NFL AM on Monday morning, via Around the League. “He still has that legend behind him. … And if I can get Reggie Bush in a Detroit Lions uniform, ooh-wee, watch out.”

It’s a nice idea, but it may not be that simple. As Around The League’s Chris Wesseling pointed out, Detroit is currently just $2 million below the projected salary cap for the 2013 season. There Lions have 23 unrestricted free agents on their roster, so they will have to take care of some of their own in addition to seeing what’s available. At age 27 and coming off his two best seasons as a pro, Bush is going to look to cash in on what should be the final big contract of his career.

The Lions were a disappointing 4-12 last season, but their record is not a good indicator of where they’re at as a team. They have some holes — mostly on defense — and very little money. With the way Joique Bell emerged as a viable running back option toward the end of last season, they might be best suited spending their limited funds elsewhere.

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE