ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Since Jim Caldwell arrived in Detroit, his message and plan has been clear. He wants to instill his own culture -- as every coach does -- within the Detroit Lions' organization. He wants to establish his values. His plan.
His ethics, on the field and off it, have been stressed to the players he is expected to lead. Now comes the biggest test of those values so far. The Lions are off until training camp commences at the end of July -- the longest stretch they have not been around their head coach since their first meeting in April.
While they are away, Caldwell is hoping they continue to stick with the messages he has tried to teach.
“It’s all year long for the last two months because of the fact that we wanted to make certain we got our foundation and how we believe or what we believe in terms of core values, what we anticipate,” Caldwell said. “So that’s been ongoing. There’s not anything new. They’ve been taking breaks all along on the weekends and things of that nature, so we’ve had to discuss the same things we discuss normally.
“Nothing’s really new and different in that regard. Just a little bit longer break.”
What Caldwell is banking on is the leadership the Lions had in place before he was hired in January. That leadership has already stuck out to him in his first few months on the job. It is because of that he believes there won’t be issues with his players as they go away for six or so weeks.
He has some reason for optimism. The Lions stayed largely out of trouble during their first offseason break following the end of the 2013 season.
"There’s an old adage that says, 'The mark of a true leader is a man that can lead himself,'" Caldwell said. “We have a lot of guys like that, that can lead themselves. We don’t see a whole lot of mishaps off the field.
"We’re not perfect. We have some, but for the most part these guys know how to take care of business and they stay focused. So I think that No. 1, that’s your first indication."
Most of the players are headed home tonight or tomorrow and are taking a little time off. Some, like offensive guard Larry Warford and wide receiver Ryan Broyles, will take a brief break before heading back to train some more before reporting to camp.
As for Caldwell? He doesn’t have any big plans -- other than watching his daughter, Natalie, get married in North Carolina this weekend. He and his wife had been visiting Natalie in Arizona in January when he got the call he would be moving to Detroit to become the Lions' next head coach.
Now he’ll leave the Lions after his first extended work with his players to be part of one of the biggest moments of her life.
"She’s my only daughter and my youngest,” Caldwell said. “I have some things to deal with because I gave them an unlimited budget and they went over that. I have a few issues to deal with along the way.
"But the serious part of it, I’m looking forward to (it)."