The most important thing the Lions did in firing Jim Caldwell was not lowering the former coach into the ground.
It was raising the standards of the franchise.
In pointed contrast to the Browns — who once more kicked fans in the face by keeping Hue Jackson around after winning one game the past two years — the Lions sent their fans a clear message that good is not good enough.
That might sound funny for a franchise with one playoff victory since 1957. Detroit could have easily continued on with the same old. Caldwell is a decent man and did a fine job, leading the Lions to two playoff appearances and three winning seasons in four years.
But the measuring stick in the NFC North is the Packers and Vikings and Bears, not their own hapless history. The fact is the Lions have the best quarterback in franchise history in Matthew Stafford, and, in a passer-driven league, they must capitalize on their win-now window.
If the Lions need to upgrade in other areas, too, it became clear this year — and, more specifically, in disheartening December losses to the Ravens and Bengals — that Caldwell was never going to put them over the top. A new, more creative voice was needed.
Give the Lions credit for raising the bar.
Good is no longer good enough.
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