Edson: Lions Fans May Wish Caldwell Was Still Coach

At this point, it appears the Detroit Lions just got greedy.

When they fired head coach Jim Caldwell two years ago, they figured they would hire one of Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots assistants and that they would become perennial NFL contenders.

Well, this Matt Patricia hiring hasn’t quite worked out so far. After an embarrassing pre-season loss to the Patriots the other night, no one could blame Lions fans for wondering what might have been.

I realize it’s only the pre-season but last year was a step back for the Lions with Patricia at the helm. And against the Patriots a few days ago, the Lions allowed nine quarterback sacks and only completed seven passes. Brutal.

Consider these facts: Caldwell had a winning record in three of the four years he was head coach. The Lions made the playoffs in two of those four seasons.

Caldwell’s record was 36-28 (.563 winning percentage), making him the first Detroit head coach who lasted at least one season to have a winning record since Joe Schmidt (1967 to 1972).

And Caldwell’s winning percentage was the best for a Lions’ head coach since Buddy Parker in the 1950s.

But those are just facts. We’re supposed to be bowled over by the “Patriots Way.”

Maybe we still will be. But from what I’ve seen so far, this team is still a long way from being a title contender…

IT’S KARRAS TIME: Lots of talk before the New England game about the late Alex Karras. His relative, Ted Karras, plays for the Patriots and he was telling reporters how Alex deserved to be in the NFL Hall of Fame.

And he’s absolutely right.

Karras was a dominant player during the 1960s. In fact, of the six NFL linemen named to the All-Decade Team of the 1960s, Karras is the only one not in the Hall of Fame. Many people point to his one-year suspension for gambling in 1963 as the reason. But former Packers great Paul Hornung was also suspended that year for gambling and he was inducted in 1986.

So it’s way past time for Alex Karras to get his due.

ANOTHER WACKY WIDEOUT: Former Central Michigan star Antonio Brown might be headed to the Hall of Fame, but he hasn’t endeared himself to Oakland Raiders fans lately. He is making a fuss about not playing because he wants to use his old helmet, which doesn’t pass current NFL safely standards.

Brown is just another in a long line of wide receivers (think Terrell Owens and Co.) who spend too much time acting like spoiled brats. It makes Lions fans appreciate a class act like Calvin Johnson, who will soon be heading to Canton, Ohio for his Hall of Fame induction.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.