After an 11th hour whiff on Ken Whisenhunt, the Detroit Lions have hired Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell as their next head coach.
Caldwell, 58, guided the Indianapolis Colts to a 26-22 record from 2009-11. He went 24-8 in his first two seasons, leading the franchise to two AFC South championships and to an appearance in Super Bowl XLIV, but was let go following a 2-14 campaign marred by Peyton Manning's departure. Speaking of Manning, Caldwell was the Colts' assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach from 2002-08 and, prior to that, served one season as quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He spent the last two seasons as Baltimore's quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, stepping in for Cam Cameron late in the 2012 season - a move that ignited the team to a win over San Francisco in the Super Bowl.
Not counting the Colts' bottom-out year of 2011, NFL teams employing Caldwell are 136-56 with two Super Bowl victories, three conference championships, and only two seasons without a playoff berth since he joined the league in 2001. This proves two things: 1) Caldwell has a knack for finding his way into organizations with talented players, and 2) He's smart enough to get out of their way.
Consensus in NFL circles pegged Detroit as the best job opening on the market. History tells us the Lions will be playoff-bound in 2014.
Detroit's hiring of Caldwell means only Cleveland and Minnesota are still in search of head coaches in the National Football League. The Vikings are said to be in heavy talks with Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.