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Lions hire offensive guru Caldwell as head coach

Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell talks into his headset during the fourth quarter of their NFL football game against the Jacksonvi
Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell talks into his headset during the fourth quarter of their NFL football game against the Jacksonvi

(Reuters) - The Detroit Lions named Jim Caldwell as their head coach on Tuesday with hopes the offensive guru who had great success in Baltimore and Indianapolis can work his magic with quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Caldwell, who helped the Baltimore Ravens win last year's Super Bowl as offensive coordinator, succeeds Jim Schwartz and becomes the team's first black head coach.

Schwartz was fired after Detroit went 7-9 in the 2013 season.

Caldwell, 58, spent three seasons in charge of the Colts from 2009 to 2011, leading the team to a berth in the 2010 Super Bowl before spending the past two seasons as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator with the Ravens.

The new Detroit coach could provide the key to unlocking the potential of strong-armed quarterback Stafford, the top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

"We believe Jim is the right man to lead our team and deliver a championship to our fans," Lions owner William Clay Ford said in a statement.

"We had a very specific plan and profile for our next head coach, and I am convinced that we found that man in Jim Caldwell."

From 2002 to 2008, Caldwell was the Colts' offensive coordinator, and quarterback Peyton Manning has credited him with helping his improvement as a signal caller.

Caldwell was fired after Indianapolis went 2-14 in 2011 with Manning sidelined for the season after having multiple surgeries on his neck.

Despite that low point, Caldwell compiled a 26-22 regular-season record in his three seasons as an NFL head coach. He was also the assistant head coach to Tony Dungy when Indianapolis won the Super Bowl following the 2006 season.

After joining the Ravens, Caldwell helped energize the team's offense and spurred a Super Bowl-winning run last season behind quarterback Joe Flacco's improved play.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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