Tag Archives: Jim Caldwell

Despite Bad Call, Lions Have Themselves to Blame in Loss to Cowboys

6 Jan

By Chris Murray
For The Chris Murray Report and The Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens collides with Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew on a controversial reversal of a pass interference call.

Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens collides with Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew on a controversial reversal of a pass interference call.

All the tumult and shouting from the Dallas Cowboys 24-20 win over the Detroit Lions in Sunday’s NFC Wildcard game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex. is not coming from Tony Romo’s game-winning eight-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams.

Fans on social media and on sports talking radio have been debating the controversial pass interference call or better yet non-call that happened midway through the fourth quarter.

Ahead 20-17, the Lions had a third and one at the Dallas 46 when quarterback Matthew Stafford threw a pass to tight end Brandon Pettigrew. A flag for pass interference was called against Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who appeared to be face guarding Pettigrew while also making contact with his shoulder while the ball was in the air.

Incredibly, referee Pete Morelli announced that the flag had been picked up without explanation. After the game, Morelli told pool reporter, ESPN’s Todd Archer that it was the head linesman who overruled the back judge who initially threw the flag. He also said that unlike the collegiate level, face guarding a receiver is not a penalty.

To be honest, it was bad officiating on that play in more ways than one, but it wasn’t the reason the Lions lost the game. I’ll get to that momentarily.

After that call, things began going South for the Lions. On fourth and one, the Lions intentionally took a delay of game penalty and then punted. But Sam Martin’s punt went just 10 yards. It took the Cowboys 11 plays and 59 yards to get what turned out to be the winning score.

On social media, the non-interference call was justifiably vilified by fans, especially those who hate the Cowboys. Some even pointed to a story that came out back in August that said Dean Blandino, the NFL’s Vice President of Officiating, was seen on a Cowboys-themed party bus hosted by Jerry Jones.
I guess they were implying that somehow Jones slipped Blandino a little something-something to instruct his guys to call things the Cowboys way during the season.

Enough of the conspiracy theories, let’s get down to the football end of all this.

For starters, the lack of an interference call was merely one thing the refs missed on the play involving Pettigrew and Hitchens.

As he was running his pattern, Pettigrew grabbed Hitchens face mask—a 15-yard penalty against the offense. But then Hitchens grabbed Pettigrew’s jersey, which should have been defensive holding or illegal contact.
And lest we forget the antics of Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who came off the bench without his helmet and should have gotten a 15-yard penalty. On that one play the officials definitely got it wrong.

But at the end of the day, it wasn’t the reason the Lions were eliminated from the playoffs. The Lions have themselves to blame for losing this game.

After the controversial play, the Lions still had fourth and one at the Cowboys 46. If they go for it there and make it, we’re not talking about what happened on the previous down.

I’d like to think that if you have players like wide receiver Calvin Johnson or even Reggie Bush you can get one yard against an average Cowboys defense. Johnson, who caught five passes for 85 yards, constantly burned Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr. Running back Joique Bell, who had 43 yards rushing, should be able to get one yard against that defense.

But head coach Jim Caldwell played it conservative and punted, which was not a bad thing to do to pin the Cowboys deep into their own territory. Unfortunately, Martin shanked the punt and the ball traveled a mere 10 yards and put Dallas in good field position at the Cowboys 36—bad execution on the part of the Lions.

If you go back to the play on third and one, the reason there was a collision between Pettigrew and Hitchens. It was a poorly thrown ball by Stafford. If he gets some loft on that ball and puts it out there where Pettigrew can get it, it’s a big play for the Lions.

After Dallas scored the go-ahead touchdown, the Lions had the ball with 2:32 and two timeouts left. That’s plenty of time to march down the field and win the game. The Lions drove from their own 20 to the Dallas 42 and needed three yards to convert on fourth down.
Unfortunately for the Lions, Stafford not only gets sacked, but he fumbled the football. You can’t put that on that non pass interference call. The Lions had an excellent opportunity to win the game, but did not execute when it counted.
After scoring the game’s first two touchdowns in the first quarter, Detroit scored just six points over the next three quarters. The Lions rolled up 257 yards of offense in the first half and had 13 first downs. In the second half, Detroit had just 140 yards and just six first downs.

I know the emotion of Lions fans and those who just hate the Cowboys are going to harp on the non-interference call with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter as the main cause of Detroit’s demise. Yes, the officials screwed up royally on that one play.

However, the Lions did not make enough plays to advance to the next round, something Caldwell was quick to point out during his postgame press conference.

“I’m not going to sit up here and act like that was the play that made the difference in the game. We still had our chances,” Caldwell said.


The Associated  Press contributed to this report.

In Spite of Success, Black Coaches Still Snubbed for NFL Head Coaching Spots

23 Jan

By Chris Murray

 Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell is the mastermind behind Baltimore's offensive resurgence in the playoffs.

Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell is the mastermind behind Baltimore’s offensive resurgence in the playoffs.

For the Chris Murray and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

To the NFL owners and general managers who passed on qualified African-American coaches during this last round of coaching vacancies, I hope you guys have been paying close attention to the Baltimore Ravens run to the Super Bowl.

Or better yet, go back through the various archives and look at the job that Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell has been doing over the last four weeks.  You can also look at his track record as a head coach. Isn’t he the same guy who guided the Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl as a head coach?

Then ask yourselves if you can explain to people why a guy like Caldwell is not hired for a head coaching position where guys who’ve never coached in the NFL can get head coaching jobs.  How come guys like Norv Turner, whose teams haven’t sniffed a Super Bowl, can get jobs easier than African-American assistant coaches who have done well as coordinators and head coaches.

Caldwell’s skills coaching the Ravens offense is the main reason why Baltimore is headed to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.

The Ravens offense was struggling in early December and so the team fired former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and promoted Caldwell, the team’s quarterback coach, to run the Baltimore offense.

Since the Ravens regular-season home loss to the Denver Broncos on Dec. 16, Caldwell has transformed Baltimore’s offense into a scoring juggernaut. They have averaged 452 yards of total offense and 31 points per game. In Cameron’s last nine games as the offensive coordinator, the Ravens averaged just 309 yards per game.

Caldwell was named the team’s permanent offensive coordinator on Monday.

“Like I’ve said before, he’s a really a solid football coach, first of all. He’s been around. He’s coached both sides of the ball,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh during his Monday press conference. “He’s been a head coach. He’s done it all. But, he’s mainly a really good guy. He’s a good person, and he’s genuine. He’s to the point [where] he doesn’t mince words, and he coaches football from the beginning of the day until the end of the day, and the guys appreciate that.”

The biggest beneficiary of Caldwell’s coaching prowess has been quarterback Joe Flacco, who has been playing like the second coming of the quarterbacks (Peyton Manning and Tom Brady) he has beaten in the last two weeks.  In the four games since losing to the Broncos, Flacco has thrown 10 touchdown passes, zero interceptions and has averaged 291 yards per game.

Flacco said he credits Caldwell’s guidance for helping him to become a better quarterback and giving him the opportunity to do more for the Ravens in the passing game.

“Our relationship has been great all year,” Flacco said. “It was awesome to have him in the room as a QB coach and have the talks and be around each other a lot, so you can have honest conversations and grow your relationship.

“He has been great. He is a great guy, so it has been easy to talk to him about certain things and make changes, make adjustments and things like that.”

With a proven track record as a head coach and what he’s done lately during this playoff run, you would think that we would be touting him as this hot assistant coach in line for a head coaching spot.

But then again did anyone think to look at New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell for a head coaching job. Didn’t he lead a defense that beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl last season? I guess he wasn’t qualified enough either.

Even with the Rooney Rule and Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin leading teams to Super Bowl wins in the last seven years, it’s still the same old story for Black coaches in the NFL.

Apparently, some league owners are still uncomfortable with the idea of an African-American head coach guiding their franchises in spite of all the evidence of their success leading teams at the top spot and as coordinators.

When head coaching vacancies come open next year, what’s going to be the excuse for not hiring African-American assistants like Caldwell to head coaching spots? To tell you the truth, I don’t want to hear it.

The problem lies not with the Rooney Rule, but with team executives whose mindset is stuck somewhere in the 1950s.