Jim Caldwell is the new head man in Detroit. He's spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator in Baltimore, but jumped at the chance to be in charge again.
“The fact of the matter is, it’s very rare that you get a second opportunity. Not only a second, but this is actually a third for me if you include my stint in college as well,” Caldwell said.
The lions' position was widely considered the most attractive job opening this off-season because the talent is already there.
“We got a great core to work with, that's key, right? The most important thing I want to focus in on is what is it going to take for us to win? Minimize mistakes, don't turn the ball over, be able to run the ball. Particularly in our division, where we have to go outside and play in some inclement weather. You can't always wing it up and down the field, you gotta be able to run that ball as well,” Caldwell explained.
Caldwell's predecessor Jim Schwartz held a 2-8 record against the Packers. That's more wins than former Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier could muster. He went 1-5-1 against Green Bay. He was also fired in the offseason. His replacement is Mike Zimmer, who's been coaching in the NFL since 1994, serving as a defensive coordinator for the past 14 seasons. This marks his first stint in the black and blue division.
“The Packers, Bears and the Lions are all extremely talented and we want to learn from them as much as we can,” Zimmer said.
As he begins his first head coaching gig, Zimmer can also learn a thing or two from his offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
“He's worked with some young quarterbacks, he's worked with great quarterbacks, hall of fame quarterbacks. He's been head coach of three different places, been thru a lot of these things that I'm going thru right now,” Zimmer explained.
Each offseason the Packers dedicate a week to each division opponent. With two new head coaches, there will be a lot of projections. Thankfully, division games are usually later in the season.
“I think that helps you a little bit because once these teams get four or five games under their belt, their identity is shown and how they want to play. It gives you a little better idea how you’re going to stack up against them,” Mike McCarthy explained.
Marc Trestman finished up his first season in Chicago with an 8-8 record, 1-1 against the Packers. The first matchup was an unusual battle of the backup quarterbacks. The second contest, the regular season finale with a playoff berth on the line, lived up to the storied rivalry. Trestman's background is on the offensive side of the ball, but that's not the problem in Chicago.
“Certainly the most important part of this offseason is rebuilding our defense to a stature that's expected of us at Hallas Hall, in our community and with our Chicago Bear fan base,” Trestman commented.
The packers three division rivals have head coaches with a combined one year of experience in the NFC North. Stability and familiarity should bode well for Mike McCarthy and company in 2014.