The case for Jim Caldwell to be Packers’ next head coach

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Jim Caldwell of the Detroit Lions yells to the officials during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 15, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Lions 52-38. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Jim Caldwell of the Detroit Lions yells to the officials during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 15, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Lions 52-38. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Jim Caldwell should be the Green Bay Packers’ next head coach.

If you’ve heard any of the debate on who the next head coach of the Green Bay Packers should be recently, you can probably summarize the arguments into two sides.

First, you’ll hear the more popular argument, the one that says that Green bay should roll with an offensive-minded coach next season, not only someone who can control Aaron Rodgers, but also spark some creativity into the offense to make it more modern.

You’ll hear names like Lincoln Riley and Josh McDaniels tossed around. On the other hand, you’ll find some fans vouching for a head coach that knows how to turn around a defense. You’ll hear names like Vic Fangio, Kris Richard and Gus Bradley debated upon.

After the Jets game, I was all for hiring a head coach that could run the defense. Joe Philbin had just capped off a victory with a remarkable 44 points on the road. The last time the Packers scored more than 40 points was more than four years ago (against the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 8, 2014).

In my eyes, the performance showed that Philbin knew how to run an offense, and the new head coach should be someone who can work with Mike Pettine to improve the defense, especially since they just gave away 38 points to the dismal New York Jets.

However, the Week 17 loss against the Lions changed all of that. The explosive offense from just a week ago was shutout, and the defense allowed 31 points to a Lions team ranked 24th in the league in offense.

Sure, several factors could have contributed to a loss (Aaron Rodgers had to leave the game because of a concussion, several key players were injured, etc.), but the game revealed several deficiencies in all parts of the Packers team.

The next head coach should be someone who can fix all of these things, not just one of them. It shouldn’t just be someone who has experience working with one side of the ball, rather someone who knows the ins and outs of the head coaching position.

When considering these factors, the possible candidate in Jim Caldwell should stand out. He’s someone that has experience in the head coach position (seven years). He’s coached offenses and defenses that were ranked top-10 in the league, and took the teams he coached to the playoffs several times.

There’s no denying that he’s had a great deal of success with teams, some that couldn’t even imagine making the playoffs before.

However, the thing that stands out about Caldwell should be his success coaching the Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl in the 2009 season. The similarities between the team Caldwell reinvented in 2009, and the struggling Packers team should be proof that Caldwell can turn this team around.

The first time the newly appointed head coach walked into a Colts locker room in 2009, he saw much of the same situation you’ll see with the Green Bay Packers today: an offense that was criticized for being too predictable, dreadful special teams play, and a defense that struggled due to injuries.

And it doesn’t just stop there. The resemblances become even more intriguing when you look at the parallels in the players of both teams. Looking closely, you’ll even see that Caldwell worked with a situation similar to the Packers’ based on individual talent.

He was able to capitalize on the strengths of the team you’ll still find in Green Bay: a strong wide receiving corps (Indianapolis had Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne to Green Bay’s Davante Adams and Randall Cobb), and a young running back group with great potential (the Colts’ Joseph Addai and Donald Brown to the Packers’ Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams).

Nearly a decade ago, Caldwell also worked through some of the weaknesses you’ll see with the Packers team with his Colts, including injuries to starters on the offensive line.

Caldwell was a coach that was able to take advantage of the strengths and deal with the weaknesses during the season, and the Colts offense ranked ninth in the NFL that year. If he took this offense to the Super Bowl, there shouldn’t be any doubt that he can do the same with this Packers team.

The correspondence between both teams only continues on the defensive side of the ball. Need someone who can turn around a team hit with injuries? Once again, look no further than Caldwell.

By the end of the 2008 season (the season before Caldwell would be promoted to head coach), the Colts defensive line and the secondary had been banged up with injuries. Linebackers Bob Sanders and Gary Brackett and cornerbacks Kevin Hayden and Marlin Jackson were all starting players that struggled to stay healthy.

Sound familiar? For the Packers, injuries to cornerbacks Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, and Bashaud Breeland led to a depleted secondary, and injuries to the Muhammad Wilkerson, Mike Daniels, and Jake Ryan severely weakened the front seven on several Sundays.

The team needs someone who can unite a team even after these injuries. And that someone shouldn’t be who says he can do so in an interview, it’s someone who’s done it before. Caldwell is the man for that job.

Yet, perhaps the most important comparison stems from the experiences that the Colts head coach had with a 33-year old future Hall of Fame quarterback, Peyton Manning.

Although Manning suffered from an injury in 2008, the head coach was able to help him return to his top form, the form that was expected of a quarterback who was paid $99 million.

It’s possible Aaron Rodgers’ performances have been impacted by the injuries he’s taken. Whatever the case may be, Caldwell has already proven that he has the coaching chops to put a quarterback in Rodgers’ situation back on top.

The window for a chance to the Super Bowl seems to get smaller and smaller as each season goes by, and as a result, Green Bay can’t afford to hire someone who needs time to adjust to the head coaching position.

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They need a new voice that has enough experience to lead a team right from the get-go. Based on the success that this man has demonstrated in his career thus far, that choice should be clear. Jim Caldwell, former coach of the Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts, should be the next man to take over in Green Bay.